Reflection on the 30th Nepal Day
At the 30th Nepal Day on May 4, 2019 in Cologne’s Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, the German-Nepal Society offered its guests a colorful bouquet of lectures, films, dance and culinary delights around the distant Himayala state.
Every time I experience Nepal Day, I get goosebumps. For one day, I feel like I’m sitting in a Nepal snow globe in the middle of Cologne. This year’s Nepal Day at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum should be no exception. How does this feeling come about?
This year, Nepal Day celebrated its 7th anniversary under the motto “Discover the 30 facets”. The focus of the entire day was on the diversity of Nepal as a cultural travel destination. In addition to lectures, film and photo screenings, the festival was accompanied by a colorful supporting program. Throughout the day, traditional dances from all regions were performed on the stage and in the foyer of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum. Under the guidance of Kamala Dahal, young Nepalese women rehearsed the dances of the individual ethnic groups for weeks and performed them with a big smile on their faces in colorful, traditional clothing, accompanied by the appropriate music. In addition, there were delicious classic Nepalese snacks and Daal Bat in the evening. With this interplay, coupled with the prizes from Nepal for the raffle in favor of the planned Nepal Foundation, a book table and the handmade products of the Nepal AG of the Mechernich Comprehensive School, one almost felt as if one were at a festival in Kathmandu, gave the perfect basis for this cultural experience.
The program on stage was made possible by speakers who came from near and far, some also from Nepal itself. This made it possible to gain different perspectives on the diverse forms of tourism in Nepal as well as on the political, economic and social situation in the country. It was especially nice to get personal impressions from people who left their hearts on a trip to Nepal or whose heart beats for their homeland. I find the Nepalis in Germany admirable, who are so committed to living and continuing their culture here. The continuation of the dances is just one example of this. At the same time, the classic Panchopar prayer dance at the opening of the stage program was proof that these traditions are also taken up and practiced by non-Nepalis.
This year, the focus of Nepal Day should be on a positive and promising topic: tourism in the seven federal states. We wanted to show that every part has something to offer for guests from near and far, away from Mount Everest, Chitwan and Pokhara.
Did we manage to do that? Probably not. But what we have managed to do is show the versatility of Nepal. And this in numerous facets, whether it is about the indigenous population like the Chepang, or the wonderful and impressive culture, like the horses in Mustang and hiking trails on the Manaslu. We also got an insight into the possibilities of alternative travel in Nepal, such as feeling with Nepal or the Children’s Aid Nepal. Not only is this form of tourism closer to the people, it also supports them economically through local overnight stays and socially sustainable tour operators. At the same time, Aditya Baral showed us the complexity and high relevance of tourism for Nepal. The art that was part of the raffle, the dances and the food also helped to draw a colorful and impressive picture of Nepal.
The experience report of the former German ambassador to Nepal Matthias Meyer, who drove back to Germany by car from Nepal, was also exciting.
But what we also saw that day are the contrasts and the inner turmoil of the country. As Arun Karki has pointed out, there are large-scale infrastructural projects that are justified, but they must not forget the important road expansion, especially in rural regions. The expansion of health care in rural areas is also necessary, as Arne Drews of Nepalmed pointed out.
The political framework is a challenge, as Dr. Karl-Heinz Krämer explained. A torn opposition, corruption and human rights violations are just a small part of the many political issues facing Nepal. Added to this is its geographical location as a “sandwich country” between India and China, two countries struggling for political influence in Nepal. It is worth mentioning here the use of China in Nepal’s infrastructure, as pointed out by Mr Karki.
Other speakers drew attention to the motivated and inquisitive youth in the country as well as to the diaspora scattered around the world, whose financial repatriations are very important for their families and the entire economy of Nepal. In Akhanda Bhandari’s impressive picture contribution, we used the example of the Chepang – the forest people – to see the difficult conditions under which parts of the indigenous population, completely on their own, live.
All participants have shown again this year: Nepal is a country of longing and everyone who has ever been there, or comes from there, leaves a piece of his heart there. In addition to the breathtaking nature, the colorful culture and the traditional delicacies, it is the Nepalis themselves who make every visit to Nepal an unforgettable experience.
The German-Nepalese Society would like to thank everyone who made this impressive day possible. We would like to thank the speakers who shared their knowledge and enthusiasm for the country and its people with us, as well as the numerous volunteers before, during and after Nepal Day. In addition, the Nepal Tourism Board, the Nepalese Embassy in Berlin and the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum for their support.
I would like to express my special thanks to our 1st chairman Ram Thapa, who was the driving force behind the organization and implementation of the Nepal Day. He tirelessly builds bridges between Nepal and Germany and promotes exchange between people from both countries. In doing so, he fulfills a very important role and always brings with him the Nepalese confidence that everything will work.
Make a note of the date for 2020: The next Nepal Day will take place on 23 May 2020 at the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne.