Home India News Gayatri Devi’s ‘kin’ in Nepal mourn her death

Gayatri Devi’s ‘kin’ in Nepal mourn her death


Kathmandu : Two days after her death due to protracted illness, Rajmata Gayatri Devi, born in the royal family of Cooch Behar and married to the dashing ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Jaipur Sawai Man Singh, is being mourned by her ‘kinsmen’ in Nepal.

“A part of history came to an end,” said a sorrowful Pawan Rajbanshi, whose Rajbanshi community is regarded as having descended from the once rich and powerful 16th century Koch kingdom that spread over north Bengal and Assam with its capital at Cooch Behar.

Now reduced to a struggling ethnic community whose rich legacy has been forgotten, the Rajbanshis of Nepal say the death of Gayatri Devi, born princess Ayesha in the royal household of Cooch Behar, has snuffed out their last remaining link to grandeur and greatness.

Migrating from India, Rajbanshis live mostly in eastern Nepal’s Jhapa, Sunsari and Morang districts.

About 15 years ago, the tea garden district of Jhapa hosted an international Koch conference, which was to have been attended by Gayatri Devi.

However, she was unable to come due to illness.

“But she promised she would attend the next Koch conference in Nepal as she was keen to be acquainted with her ‘people’ in Nepal,” says Rajbanshi, a radio journalist who translated the first Geeta in the Rajbanshi language this year.

Unfortunately, the next international Koch conference in Nepal was held four years ago, at a time the kingdom was racked by political turmoil.

King Gyanendra, whose Shah dynasty is also related to the former rulers of Rajasthan, had seized absolute power with the help of the army and India had suspended diplomatic ties with the royal regime.

It would have been politically incorrect for the three-times member of parliament and blueblooded Gayatri Devi to visit Nepal at that juncture and the Rajbanshi clan’s wish to meet her remained unfulfilled.

“We were sad to hear about her death but sadder because Nepal’s media has ignored the news totally,” Rajbanshi said. “We came to hear of it only on Thursday after an Indian television channel reported her passing away.”

The community is now planning a tribute to her in Nepal’s state media, especially when the Nepali state-run daily Gorkhapatra carries a page in the Rajbanshi language.

They also plan to hold a memorial meeting.