This Valentine’s Day,
A cheers to how happy we are
Or how alone we are
But most importantly, cheers to love that keeps us alive.
Now that the humour in poor taste is done, let’s get back to the article’s main point…which is how to express love in Nepali. But first thing…what is love?
In Nepali, you cannot just come up and define love using a single word. Love is something abstract and something potent…so in Nepali, the word love is split into two primary words:
प्रेम (prem) and माया (maya)
When you first ask someone who speaks Nepali, you have had probably asked how to say ‘I love you’, isn’t it? Well, the common answer to that would be ’Ma timi`lai maya garchu’…which is sort-of true but it just doesn’t sound right. When we talk of love, we tend to link it to the romantic version and not the different type of love…like the love that saved Harry Potter from Voldemort.
So, first thing I’ll tell is…माया (maya) is the unconditional love. It is also the love a mother feels for her child, or the true love that a human feels for another human. It is the love that never falters and is never selfish. The verb ‘To love’ which incorporates ’maya’ is ‘माया गर्नु’ (maya garnu) in Nepali.
प्रेम (prem) on the other hand is the romantic love. The love that a person has for his/her lover, the love that binds two people to a relationship. Unfortunately, there isn’t a verb used for prem.
You cannot ‘love’ objects in Nepali, only like them (to a certain degree). So, words for ’love’ are very sacred in Nepali, used only while meaning a human being.
When you say ‘I love books’ or ‘I love eating’, you cannot use either of the two words above because they simply make no sense! So, you cannot say ’Ma kitab lai maya garchu’ because it makes no sense at all.
Hence, there is a verb for this. It is ‘मन पर्नु’ (man parnu) or मन लाग्नु (man laagnu). They both are equivalent but ’man parnu’ is used a bit more than the latter. In fact, you can even say ’ma X lai man paraauchu’ to mean ‘I like X’ (where X is a human). This magic verb works for both objects and humans…but it is more like ‘Like’ than ‘love’. You can also say ’ma X lai dherai man paraauchu’ to mean ‘I like X very much’.
From everything discussed above, we come to a couple of sentences:
1. म तिमीलाई माया गर्छु (ma timi`lai maya garchu)
= I love you.
2. म तिमीलाई धेरै मन पराउँछु (ma timi`lai dherai man paraauchu)
= I like you very much. (= I love you)
3. म तिमीलाई मन पराउँछु (ma timi`lai man paraauchu)
= I like you.
Now, where to use them?
If you are confessing, then I’d suggest sentence 2 or 3. 1 doesn’t sound natural at all. However, if you are in a loving relationship and want to express you love (like always), you can use sentence 1. Remember, 1 cannot be just hurled around everywhere because it is an extremely contextual sentence.
‘Prem’ is used like a noun:
मेरो र उसको बीचको प्रेम (mero ra us`ko bich`ko prem)
= Love between I and Him/Her
Anyway, happy loving this Valentine’s Day! [or so विश्व माया दिवस (bishwa maya diwas /World ‘Love’ Day/ as my calendar says…]