Prithvi Jayanti, in Nepali पृथ्वी जयन्ती, literally “Birthday of Prithvi Narayan Shah” and also known as the Nepal Ekikaran Diwas or National Unity Day, is an observance annually celebrated on 11 January (Poush 27) to commemorate the birth of King Prithvi Narayan Shah who was the first king of unified Nepal.
In the mid-18th century, he set out to unify small kingdoms which would become present-day Nepal.
During the observance, many people add a garland to his statues, participate in the parades, and remember his contribution to the country.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah, was enthroned at the age of 20 in Gorkha, one of 54 states in Nepal at that time.
One of his reasons for uniting the states was to make it harder for the region to be occupied by the British Empire.
In the mid-18th century he set out to unify small kingdoms which would become present-day Nepal.
After his victory at the Battle of Nuwakot in 1744, he headed for the Kathmandu Valley, where the three Malla kingdoms Bhaktapur, Patan, and Kantipur were ruling. He went to a battle with the Kingdom of Patan over the town of Kirtipur, and in 1767 the town fell into his hand.
This posed a threat to Kantipur and, subsequently, the King of Kantipur, Jaya Prakash Malla, requested assistance from the East India Company to stop the rapid expansion of Gorkha.
Recently, the king had also imposed a blockade on the kingdom which hurt the East India Company’s trans-Himalayan trade with Tibet and China as they used the route that went through Kantipur.
The company accepted the request and sent Captain Kinloch who met king Prithvi Narayan Shah’s forces at the Battle of Sindhuli in 1767. The battle proved to be disastrous for the company, and Kinloch fled with approximately 800 soldiers out of almost 24,000.
After this, the king managed to conquer the valley and proclaimed himself as the King of Nepal on 25 September 1768, establishing a period of hereditary rule that only ended in 2008 when Nepal became a republic.
After his death on January 11th 1775, the Unification of Nepal campaign was continued notability by Prince Bahadur Shah, Queen Rajendra, and statesman Bhimsen Thapa.
At its greatest extent, the Kingdom of Nepal extended from the Sutlej River in the west to the Teesta River in the east.
During Prithvi Jayanti, high officials including the Chief of Army Staff, the President and the Prime Minister of Nepal remember king Prithvi Narayan Shah’s contribution to Nepal.
The people who participate in the parades chant slogans praising.
Quotes from Divyopadesh, a collection of teachings of the king, are also chanted, while his statues throughout Nepal are garlanded.
The Nepali Army organises a unification torch rally from the birthplace of the king in Gorkha and it concludes after reaching the capital Kathmandu on 11 January.
Prithvi Jayanti was celebrated as a public holiday from 1951 and, although It has not been a public holiday in recent years, it is widely observed.
The government stopped celebrating January 11th as National Unity Day, which was traditionally celebrated as a public holiday, following the political change brought about by the second people’s movement in 2006.