When Burma became independent, there were more than 100 Nepali-Gorkhali settlements in the hilly areas. Aung San Suu Kyi, the father of Burmese politician and current powerful leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had agreed with Kachin Province and Nepali-speaking people to have a separate territory in the local Kachin Province.
Despite the difficult situation, about two lakh Nepalis are now living in Burma. About 50,000 of them have migrated to Thailand. When visiting the villages of Nepalis living here, it seems that they have visited the villages of Nepal. All the festivals celebrated by Nepalis are celebrated here with pomp and circumstance. Even though the Burmese government does not recognize Nepali language, classes one to 10 are taught in Nepali language in the temples.
Despite nearly 50 years of military rule, one language, one country and one religion, Burmese Nepalis have preserved their language, Hindu religion and culture. Even in the autocratic situation, many people have contributed to the ‘Save Nepalis in Burma’ campaign. Among them, Thakur Guragain’s name is in a high place in the field of language, literature and education.
The Burmese army began military rule in 1962, fearing that the country would fall apart as different castes sought their rights. The constitution was drafted only for the benefit of the Burmese caste and language. This affected the teaching of Nepali language like other castes.Orders were issued for people of foreign descent of various castes to leave the country.
Fearing the military government, thousands of Nepalis returned to India and Nepal along with many foreigners. Even now, thousands of Nepali speakers returning from Burma live in states like Tripura, Mizoram and Nagaland in India.
Literary writer Thakur Guragain is the same person who started teaching Nepali language to young children in Burma during the harsh military rule.
Due to the closed society, Nepali courses from class 1 to 10 were handwritten and prepared. Arrangements were made for such books to be read as religious books in hundreds of temples scattered throughout Burma. Due to this campaign started in 1975, the merged Nepali language has flourished again.
Today, more than 80 percent of Nepalis in Burma can read and write in Nepali. 98 percent of Nepalis conduct their home affairs in Nepali language. In Burma, Thakur Prasad Guragain’s songs are rarely memorized by Nepalis. The Madan Award Guthi had given the Jagdambashree honor to Thakur Prasad Guragain in 1954 BS for his struggle to save the Nepali language outside Nepal even during the harsh military rule.
He has also recently been honored by Myanmar’s democratic government. Guragain, who has written hundreds of songs, poems and articles for children, has published six novels, a collection of short stories, a collection of essays and a collection of poems. Some of his books have been translated into Burmese.