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Nepalese Army

Last modified: 2000-01-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: nepal | star | crescent | triangle | dagger | footprint | god | asia |
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Introduction

The modern Nepalese Army was founded in 1762, and today consists of 22 battalions and 44 independent companies. At least one of these is cavalry, and a few others have since WWII converted to artillery, engineers and signals without any change in their old names or in their colours. The Nepalese gave the British Army quite a licking in an 1814-16 border war, and have been perpetual friends and allies of Britain and India ever since. Nepal supplied the British Indian Army with ten regiments of Gurkha mercenaries. At Indian independence six remained in India, and four went directly to the British Army. By British tradition these are "Rifle" regiments and do not carry colours. The Nepalese Army on the other hand has always been sovereign, and shows not a trace of British influence. Nepalese units have been rotating on UN peacekeeping duty in Lebanon since 1978, but I don't know if they have taken their Colours with them.

The sample colours are adapted (scanned and considerably retouched) from watercolours in "Royal Nepalese Army Colours: a Short History" by an Army History Task Force (1991). The book gives a brief history of each battalion and company, but virtually no information on the significance of the colours. They seem to follow no rules, and vary wildly in size, shape, and colours. In fact, these variations seem to be the distinctions between units. (Two units have flags in the same shape as the national flag.) Most of the Army units date from the late 18th and early 19th century, and their flags do not appear to have been altered in any way since then. The devices on the national flag occur frequently on Army colours. Other common devices are a dagger, and a pair of footprints.
Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

According to Smith (1977), the footprints of Buddha point to Buddha's birthplace in what is now Nepal.
Ole Andersen, 13 October 1999

"Main Colours"

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
This one is paraded on the right of all the battalions and companies, is believed to pre-date the modern Army (1762), and is considered the main flag of the whole army.

Colours of Shree Devidutta Battalion

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
Awarded by the King in 1785 for gallantry in battle. These Colours are considered "divinely consecrated" and every officer in the Army takes his oath while touching these Colours. The Colours are also considered the protector of the Capital and never leave Kathmandu.

Colours of Shree Bhairavnath Battalion

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
Raised in 1810, and now a parachute battalion.

Colours of Shree Ganeshdal Battalion

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
Raised in 1846, and now responsible for all the signals and communications of the Army.

Colours of Shree King's Household Cavalry

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
Raised in 1849, and has acted as Household Cavalry ceremonial unit since 1952.

Colours of Shree Vajradal Company

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
Raised 1806.

Colours of Shree Bhagvati Prasad Company

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
Raised in 1927.

Colours of Shree Parshwavarti Company

by Todd Mills, 21 June 1997

[Click on flag for larger image.]
Raised 1936 and disbanded 1952. Was the Prime Minister's bodyguard.




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