Bahá'í Faith In Nepal
Nepal, in addition to containing the highest and most magnificent mountain tops in the world, like Mount Everest and the Kanchanjunga, is possessed of and elevate the spirit. Its exceedingly hospitable and ever-smiling people free the visitors of all their care sand worries. A visitor to this country can never forget its enchanting scenes. The Bahá'í faith first came to Nepal in 1950s. In all probability, it was Mr. Kedarnath Pradhan from Sikkim who came to Katmandu along with his family to proclaim the message of Bahŕ'u'llŕh. At that time there was no formal administration but a lot of Bahá'í activities took place and there are still many believers in Nepal who had accepted the Faith then. The first Local Spiritual Assembly in Nepal was that of Katmandu city which was elected in 1960-61. There was also a Bahá'í group in Bhaktapur at that time. Later in 1960s, with the arrival of Prof. P. N. Rai, from Uttar Pradesh, India, a lot of activities were initiated in Birganj area and a large number of Local Spiritual Assemblies were formed. This phase of development continued till mid 1970s by which time many Bahá'í communities also came into being in the industrial and border town of Biratnagar. Many eminent Bahá'ís visited Nepal, prominent among them being the Hand of the Cause Dr. A. Furutan. The first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Nepal was formed during his visit to Nepal in 1972. However, due to the conditions in Nepal and at the instance of the Universal House of Justice, the National Assembly and the 40 other Local Assemblies were dissolved in 1975. for a few years, till 1982, there was an Administrative Committee which looked after the affairs of the Cause in Nepal.
Many pioneers from India helped to further propagate the faith in Nepal. Mr. Dinesh Prasad Verma, a Bahá'í form Bihar, helped in opening up the Eastern Nepal to the Faith. Mr. Udai Narayan Singh spent a great deal of time in teaching the Faith not only in Nepal but also in the neighbouring lands of Sikkim and Bhutan. He is now settled in Biratnagar as a pioneer. There have also been a couple of pioneers from America, New Zealand and England, Mr. & Mrs. David Walker from the U.S.A. did a great job in consolidating the Faith in Nepal from 1976 to 1985. The Batchelor family from England remained in Katmandu for 6 years and left in 1985. At present, there are two pioneers in Katmandu- Mr, Larry Robertson from the U.S.A. and Mr. Ramachandra from Malaysia. Both of them have got married to Nepalese Bahá'í girls and are the members of the National spiritual Assembly of Nepal. They speak Nepali fluently and are loved by the local friends.
Mr. Bharat Koirala, who is the first Bahá'í from Nepal to be appointed a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors, with his Persian wife, Mahsheed Koirala, played a vital role in establishing the Faith in Nepal. Unfortunately, Mahsheed passed away about two years ago right after a short illness leaving behind her two children - a son and a daughter - who live at present in Katmandu with their father. They are all devoted Bahá'ís and have no aim in life except to play their role in promoting their beloved Cause.
According to one estimate, the number of Bahá'ís in Nepal is about 1500. There are about 40 Local Spiritual Assemblies in some thirty-five districts of Nepal (out of a total of seventy-five districts). A piece of land has recently been purchased for the purpose of constructing a Bahá'í Centre in Katmandu. They also have their Temple land.
The local Bahá'ís in Nepal have some real achievements to be proud of - like running literacy classes for women, training in weaving, knitting, vegetable farming, etc. The Bahá'í community in Malangawa is having a Bahá'í school with 30 to 40 children. Pokhra, a spot of tourist attraction in the mountains, has a very strong Bahá'í community. The Biratnagar Bahá'í community has not only achieved the goal of almost 100% literacy for the Bahá'ís but has also transformed the lives of the believers in many other ways. It has helped them to overcome their drinking habits. The friends in this community now celebrate the Nineteen Day Feasts with great enthusiasm, send their children to children Morals Classes regularly and take an active part in all other Bahá'í activities. Where as formerly they were always in debt, now each family is earning about Rs. 10000/- per annum. Says Mr. Bharat Koirala, "The Bahá'í Faith is beginning to change their lives not only spiritually but materially also."
What else can one wish except that this community of the Greatest Name may progress from strength to strength.
© Prof. Anil Sarwal