Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering First Everester Tenzing Norgay

Darjeeling, May 29: One of the most internationally acclaimed Indians seems to have been forgotten in his own native land, if the number of people who paid homage to Tenzing Norgay’s samadhi in Darjeeling today is any indication.

On this day in 1953, when Tenzing Norgay Sherpa scaled Mount Everest for the first time with Edmund Hillary, the hill people danced to Bir Tenzing timro biswa la gaudhachaa jai gan (The world is singing your song, brave Tenzing). It was composed by singer Navin Bardewa for His Master’s Voice (HMV).

Following Tenzing’s achievement, the then prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, established the now world famous Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where the mountaineer served as the field director and the adviser till his death on May 9, 1986.

Local people said they had not yet seen such a big funeral procession in Darjeeling other than that of Tenzing. Even on May 25, 1997, the hill people were singing laurels of the mountaineer, as was evident from the huge turnout at a function where Hillary unveiled Tenzing’s statue at the HMI.

But 14 years on, only a few people were seen paying homage to Tenzing at his samadhi here, apart from the 100-odd people of the Sherpa community, including Tenzing’s own family members, and the HMI authorities.

sir edmund hillary-tenzing norgay
“We have been organising a small prayer meeting here for the past three years. However, we haven’t yet been able to organise cultural programmes or mark the event in a big way. There is no help from the government either,” said P.T. Sherpa, the joint secretary of the United Buddhist Sherpa Association of Darjeeling.

Col. Neeraj Rana, the principal of the HMI, said: “We held a prayer meeting and also helped the Sherpa community organise the event. Funds are not a problem.”

More than the government’s non-participation, the lack of response from the common people seems to be the most disappointing.

“I do not know what has happened. I do not even know why he has been forgotten. But I am here to pay my homage to him today,” said Nima Norbu, an Everester.

Incidentally, May 29 was so dear to Tenzing that he even celebrated his birthday on this day.

“My father did not remember his date of birth but he always said he must have been born on this date,” Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, son of the legendary mountaineering and an Everester himself, had once said
(The Telegraph)

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