Britain is celebrating 200 years of the Gurkhas with a series of events including an Everest climb and an Arctic expedition.
April saw the launch of “Gurkha 200” in London to raise issues such as pensions for retired soldiers.
A team will attempt to become the first serving members of the Brigade of Gurkhas to conquer Mount Everest, via the South Col route. Another expedition will bid to circle Ellesmere Island in the Arctic circle using kayaks and skis.
Major Andrew Todd (part of the Expedition’s management team) labelled the Gurkhas’ commitment to training “truly inspirational” and assured us that their sights are “firmly fixed on the summit of Everest”.
All Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years’ service will be allowed to settle in the UK, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said.
It comes after a high-profile campaign by Joanna Lumley and other supporters of Gurkha rights – and an embarrassing Commons defeat for the United Kingdom government.
Gurkhas, are people from Nepal who take their name from the eighth century Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath.
His disciple Bappa Rawal, born Prince Kalbhoj/Prince Shailadhish, founded the house of Mewar, Rajasthan (Rajputana). Later descendants of Bappa Rawal moved further east to found the house of Gorkha, which in turn founded the Kingdom of Nepal. Gorkha District is one of the 75 districts of modern Nepal.
Kukri - fighting knife
Probably the most renowned fighting knife in the world is the kukri, the wickedly curved knife of the Gurkhas of Nepal.
In the hands of an experienced wielder this knife is about as formidable a weapon as can be conceived. Like all really good weapons, it’s efficiency depends much more upon the skill that the strength of the wielder and thus it happens that the little Gurkha a mere boy in point of stature, will cut to pieces of gigantic adversary who does not understand his mode of onset.
The Gurkha generally strikes upwards with the kukri, possibly in order to avoid wounding himself should his blow fail, and possibly because an upward cut is just the one that can be least guarded against.