Hami Gorkha Hoom, Hami Gorkha Rahumla!
The world trembled when the First World War was declared in 1914. Soldiers marched, sailed and flew from remote stations to the war theatres. There were two Gurkha battalions centred in Dharamshala who were quickly moved to action. By December 1914 they had reached the war theatre in France. As news of loss of beloved ones streamed in, the Gorkha community came closer in grief and anxiety. Wives became widows, children became orphans and parents lost their sons. The need of the hour led to the idea of an Association for social welfare work.
In 1916, Gorkha veterans, Subedar Major Hony Captain Madho Singh Rana, OBI, (village Shyamnagar) Subedar Kanak Singh Thapa (Thapa Niwas, village Dari) and Sri Baburam Bogati (village Dari) initiated and established the foundation of the Punjab Gorkha Association (the region was then called Punjab, as Himachal Pradesh was carved out much later as a new state in 1971). In total they were fourteen founder members including Capt Teju Karki (Dari), Capt Sarabjit Thapa (Dari), SM Ramkishen Bisht (Dari), SM Balvant Singh Mahat (Dari), Subedar Jai Bahadur Karki (Shyamnagar), Sub Jangu Kharka (Pension Line), Sub Devi Singh Karki (Pension Line), Sub Hira Singh Pradhan (Pension Line), Sub Bhagwantu Thapa (Dari), Sub Naru Thapa (Dari) and Sub Tulbir Thapa (Dari). Subedar Major and Hony Capt Madho Singh Rana who had served in the distinctive role of ADC to the Viceroy of India (1905-1910) was the first President of the Association. The first of its kind in India the association is recognised by the Ministry of Defence. In the beginning, there were just about three or four Gorkhali villages (along with the Punjab towns of Gurdaspur, Dhaliwal and Amritsar). Today seventeen Gorkhali villages from within Dharamshala town with their individual mukhias come under the jurisdiction of the Association.
Over the last 100 years, the Association has remained steadfast on its foundation mission of social work and keeping the Gorkha families together. The community spirit produced legendary figures from Dharamshala such as Late Master Mitrasen Thapa with his masterpieces of literature, plays and songs in Gorkhali, Late INA Capt Ram Singh Thakuri who was INA’s Band-Major and close associate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Martyr Freedom fighter INA Capt Dal Bahadur Thapa and many more. Though small in numbers the Bhagsu Gorkhali spirit has remained inimitable.
On 27th, 28th and 29th October the members and community got together to celebrate its centenary with a three day festival with the present President Lt (Retd) Bhupinder Singh Gurung at the helm. It was a great moment of reunion and gathering of Gorkhali families who have been staying here for generations. Old memories were revived and bonding renewed with fresh vigour. Vibrant dances were performed by local girls and boys trained under the guidance of Gorkhali ladies. The next generation Gorkhalis—the children enjoyed the most never to forget again their Gorkhali roots.
Thank you to Shri Bimal Gurung
Keeping the spirit of one Gorkha identity, Shri Bimal Gurung, President of the GJMM and Chief Executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, Darjeeling Hills sent his good wishes with a contribution from the people of Darjeeling Hills. A very fine gesture indeed, reaching across nearly 2000 kms of distance between Darjeeling and Dharamshala.
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