“Lahure Nabhai Marne Chhaina”: Locating Lahure Aspirations through Wholesome Memes
Becoming a Lahure has been a major aspiration for Nepali youths for many generations now. Although getting recruited in the British (Indian) Army during the major wars was discouraged and even actively resisted primarily by mothers and wives, young Nepali men have always been fascinated by the cherished lives of Lahures, monies that they brought home, and the prestige attached therewith. Additionally, the British Lahures and their families now are entitled to live in the UK and seek British citizenship. This, in addition to the monetary benefits, has made the British Lahure migration an important source of aspiration for Nepali youths. Furthermore, with the news of the potential hiring of Nepali women into the foreign armies and the already existing recruitment in the Nepali security forces, the Lahure aspirations have now extended to young women too. They are not more limited to becoming partners but can themselves become a Lahure.
Using publicly available wholesome memes posted on social media and comments on such posts, mainly on the public discussion groups on Facebook, this paper analyses the migration aspirations of young Nepali men and women. Most of these Facebook groups, each with multiple thousand followers, let the members post and/or comment on their posts. This way, the members who know or are unknown to each other can interact and express their views. These wholesome memes and comments are almost always motivational, and the participants prompt each other to meet their aspirations of becoming a Lahure. With their shared aspiration of becoming a Lahure, they also share their motivations of staying fit and doing tough training exercises.
Furthermore, the wholesome memes portray a general poor economic background of the aspiring Lahures that could be changed to a “good life” after migration through hard work and training. The aspiration of a “good life” that will be achieved after becoming a Lahure involves making the parents happy. On the one hand, the aspiration of a “good life” entails providing for the parents, especially the mothers, on the other hand, only the faithful partners/lovers who wait for the Lahures without complaints are accommodated. The unsuccessful potential partners are thought of as losers for not waiting for the Lahures. Moreover, by keeping the aspiring Lahures on a morally superior position compared to other individuals as the former are “sacrificing their lives for the service of the country and people.” The underlying messages carried in the memes are filled with narcissistic and hypermasculine tropes that are both patronising and patriarchal.
Keywords: migration aspirations; masculinity; Lahure; wholesome memes; social media.