Word of the Year 2019


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गुठी विधेयक /gu·ʈʰi bi·d̪ʰe·yak/ (Guthi Bill)


Nepali Language Resource Center's Word of the Year 2019 is गुठी विधेयक /gu·ʈʰi bi·d̪ʰe·yak/, and the word means "Guthi Bill."

The word was used significantly more by our users in 2019 than it was in the previous years.

Nepal Academy's dictionary defines गुठी as "a social institution that takes care of land, houses, property, etc., set aside to conduct religious and social activities, including festivals and rituals, from the revenue generated from such property.” The dictionary also mentions that the term can also refer to such property that can only be used by the Guthi. The word originated from the Sanskrit word, गोष्ठी (Gosthi) meaning a group or an assembly.

The Guthis of Nepal are land trusts that have religious and cultural ties to the society. The Guthi system, that dates back to the Lichhavi era of the 5th century, also maintains temples, other social infrastructures and organizes various festivals and rituals. Local communities have benefited from the practice as they have been able to develop various skills, from paintings to masonry, and the system has also provided a source of revenue generation to the communities.

The Nepal Communist Party government, with an overwhelming majority in the Parliament, introduced a bill to reform the Guthis in the country. The Guthis of Kathmandu Valley objected to the proposed bill leading to prolonged protests in Kathmandu, which ultimately led to the government withdrawing the bill.

The usage of the word soared after the bill was tabled at the end of April, throughout the period of protests and until the bill was withdrawn towards the end of June.

Many Guthis own prime real estate and are also prime tourist attractions. So, in addition to being a cultural institution, it has significant financial implications to various stakeholders involved in managing them. Additionally, all Guthis are not the same in terms of their structure, some Guthis are public whereas some are private, and they are not subject to the same set of rules as regular non-profit organizations are.

The government argued that the bill would bring the different forms of Guthis under a central control and bring transparency to their operations in order to stop alleged financial irregularities. However, the critics of the bill, led by the Newar community of the valley, argued that the bill was a ploy to downplay the long-standing tradition and a tactic to grab the Guthi land from them. Many of the government buildings today were once Guthi land that were nationalized at various points in history.

The protests intensified and were joined by groups outside of Guthis as well and eventually forced the government to withdraw the bill from the Parliament.


There are Guthis in and outside of the Kathmandu valley. The Guthis of the valley are primarily run by the Newar community and they saw the bill as a blow to their heritage. Similar opposition to the bill was not seen outside of the valley, which points to the fact that the Guthis of the valley are different in nature compared to those outside of the valley. Realizing this distinction, by the end of the year, the government was working with the valley's lawmakers and leaders, who advised the government to include a special provision for the valley's Guthis in any future Guthi reform bills.

The fact that even a government that had an overwhelming majority of votes to pass the bill had to withdraw it because of the protests in Kathmandu underscores a delicate balance that needs to be maintained while trying to make changes to a system that is deeply rooted in the tradition and heritage of the community.

The following related words were also among the top words for 2019: नेवार /ne·wär/ (Newar), प्रदर्शन /pra·d̪ar·san/ (protest, demonstration).

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हावाहुरी /hä·wä·hu·ri/ (tornado, windstorm)

In late March, a deadly windstorm swept through the southeastern Tarai region marking the recording of the first ever tornado in the country. Nepali vocabulary does not have a word for tornado as it has never been recorded before, but the word हावाहुरी, which translates to windstorm, soared in usage when the tornado hit and the usage continued to spike during the relief operations. In a report, the authorities confirmed the recording of the first ever tornado after analyzing the satellite imagery, social media posts and a visit to the region, in the absence of proper instruments to detect tornadoes.[1] The report said that the tornado, which took 30 lives, injured over a thousand people and damaged many buildings and structures in the rural communities, was estimated to be of EF3 intensity on the Enhanced Fujita Scale and had wind speed between 180 to 265 kph (112-165 mph). The tornado which started in Chitwan National Park near the border with India moved eastwards at a speed of about 34 kmh (21 mph) and tore through the rural communities of Bara and Parsa districts along it’s nearly 53 km (33 mi) path.[1]

Bangladesh and the eastern parts of India have frequent tornadoes, and Nepal may have had tornado events in the past but were never recorded. The March tornado in the southeastern Nepal has highlighted the need to establish a severe weather warning system, a recommendation of the report, to minimize the impact of any future severe weather events in the country.

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सी जिनपिङ (Xi Jinping)

The 2019 visit by the President of China, Xi Jinping, to Nepal was a notable event in the nation. The word "Xi Jinping" spiked during October when President Jinping arrived in Kathmandu on a two-day state visit to Nepal. It was an important political event as a sitting president of China was visiting Nepal after a gap of twenty-three years even though the two countries share a common border. While Nepal hoped to benefit from China's Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese side was hoping to make grounds as regards to curtailing anti-China activities from the Nepali soil and at the same time not disturb the delicate balance China and India have when it comes to dealing with their common neighbor, Nepal. One of the significant gains Nepal hoped to achieve was greater connectivity with China, mainly the possibility of a railroad connectivity between China and Nepal that would link China to the Indian subcontinent.

© NLRC

References:
[1] Report on Bara-Parsa Tornado. Government of Nepal, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), the Small Earth Nepal (SEM) and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), June 2019.

About Word of the Year
Nepali Language Resource Center's Word of the Year and other top words are chosen from the most used words by users on our Website or our apps. Two types of words rank the highest in usage: evergreen words, which are not considered in choosing top words, and words whose usage spikes as a result of certain events. We then choose the Word of the Year and other top words based on how they rank in the current year and how they compare to their normal usage in the previous years.


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