After a brief introduction by Mr. Arjun Ghimire, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy, the national anthems were playing and a Nepalese traditional candle lighting ceremony was held, followed by a promotion video of the country which showed some of the faces and views of the beautiful Nepal and its people.
First speaker was Mr. Nadav Ben-Yehuda, who serves as a Senior Advisor to the Embassy and the Chairman of Israel-Nepal Chamber of Commerce. In his speech, Ben-Yehuda engaged the audience with the trivia question of who was the first to reach Everest's peak? As Ben-Yehuda shared, on 29 May 1953, Sir Edmund Percival Hillary KG and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest and that we can learn that we should never do missions like this alone.
For the question of who added 2 feet to the 29,000 height, that was Radhanath Sikdar who was an Indian mathematician best known for calculating the height of Mount Everest. Ben- Yehuda continurted by sharing his personal climbing experience in Nepal, specifically Mount Annapurna, and perhaps breaking the record of the highest chess game ever being played.
The speech was followed by a beautiful traditional Maruni dance by two female dancers wearing traditional Nepalese customs. Ambassador Rizal then began her formal remarks by sharing that she is deeply honored and privileged to welcome the guests and that this day marks the anniversary of a new constitution, which was promulgated via Constitution Assembly on the 20th September 2015. On this day, the entire nation celebrates this day with the full spirit of unity.
The Ambassador elaborated that the new constitution embraces the principles of republicanism, federalism, secularism and inclusiveness, and that it frames the fundamental political principles, procedures and duties of the government and guarantees the human rights of its citizens.
Considering Nepal’s diverse culture and traditions, which vary from one region of the nation to another, the constitution has recognized all the local languages spoken within Nepal as national languages. In this fashion, since Nepal enjoys a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions blended to form a national identity, the Ambassador explained that the Nepalese celebrate a wide variety of festivals that turn later to family gatherings.
Nepal is the country with many of the religious sites for the Hindus, Buddhists and Kirats, some of them has been regarded as the world heritages sites. Despite that, as the Ambassador stressed, Nepal has adopted religious secularism by the new constitution.
Then, the Ambassador focused on the relationship between Nepal and Israel, established in 1960. She said that despite the topographic and climate variations, hosting the highest and the lowest points on the earth respectively, Nepal and Israel share a unique bond and a lot of similarities in actions.
It started when Nepal, an ancient country nestled between two great Asian civilizations ,and Israel, a newly established country in the Middle East with ancient history, decided to establish diplomatic ties that turned out to be a milestone in international relations of both countries and people.
It continued with Israel’s support to train and educate Nepali farmers how to use new technology to boost agriculture production, and with Israel’s remarkable assistance during the devastating 2015’s earthquake in Nepal, through Israel’s assistance to Nepal during Covid-19 pandemic.
Till date, Nepal is well loved by Israelis and vice versa with deep respect for eternal faith and trust between the two countries that doubtless go beyond time. Thus, The Ambassador thanked and expressed gratitude on behalf of Nepal for all hands of cooperation provided by Israel for the development of Nepal.
The Ambassador concluded by expressing confidence that in the days ahead the bilateral relations will grow stronger. She thanked the Minister and the Excellency Ambassadors, Senior Government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, fellow Nepali compatriots and other distinguished guests for joining the celebration.
Next speaker was Israel’s Minister of Diaspora and the fight against anti-Semitism and Minister of Social Equality Mr. Amichai Shikli, who shared how pleased and honored he is to represent the government and the people of Israel in congratulating the government and the people of Nepal on the occasion of its Constitution Day.
He mentioned that Nepal was the first country in South Asia to recognize the State of Israel and to establish diplomatic relations with it, followed by the first visit of its Prime Minister, B.P. Koirala, who met with then Israeli Prime Minister, David Ben- Gurion, in the Summer of 1960.
Just two years ago it was the 60 years anniversary of strong diplomatic relations between the two countries consisting of fruitful cooperation across many areas such as agriculture, health, education, tourism, security and humanitarian aid.
The minister elaborated on MASHAV, and participation in the "Learn & Earn" agricultural training program which has already successfully trained some three thousand "graduates" that have since returned to Nepal equipped with unprecedented knowledge and experience in modern Israeli farming technology.
He also mentioned hundreds and thousands of Israelis have come to Nepal to volunteer in programs for the development of Nepal and some simply as tourists to partake in treks throughout this phenomenal country, forming strong connections with local Nepalese. He predicted that 2023 may break the record for the highest number of Israeli tourists visiting Nepal.
Similar to Ambassador Rizal, Minister Shikli also mentioned the assistance Israel provided to Nepal after the terrible earthquake and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also appreciated and admired the care-giving services generously offered by Nepalese citizens to elderly population here in Israel, and that they are being welcomed to Israeli society with the same warmth and caring that they provide our elderly population.
Ironically, as the Minister noted, Nepal and Israel are also connected through geographically opposite extremes – Nepal is of course famous for having the highest mountain in the world, Everest, and Israel, for its part, is famous for having the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea.
Last, Minister Shikli mentioned the Nepalese football player who joined the Israeli women's team known as SAMBA. He concluded his remarks with warm wishes for a future of peace, stability and economic prosperity and that the friendship between the countries will grow ever stronger as each day goes by.
Following the wine toasting by the Ambassador and the Minister, the guests enjoyed the traditional dishes, with the ambience of festive lights and decorations.
Photos Silvia Golan
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