Nepal sees seven New Year Days in 365 days!
Keshav P Koirala
Kathmandu, April 12:
Nepal, thanks to her cultural diversity, observes at least seven new years a year. It may sound unbelievable but it's true. Nepalis celebrate the new year days of the Bikram Sambat, the Gregorian Calendar, the Tola Lhosar of Tamu Sambat, the Sonam Lhosar of Tamang Era, the Gyalbo Lhosar of Sherpa or Tibetan Era, the Nhoo Daya of Nepal Sambat and Lawa Sal of Tharu era, among others. And it is the Bikram Sambat New Year Day that we will celebrate tomorrow. Historians present conflicting theories about who introduced the Bikram Sambat. There were two kings by the name Vikramaditya after whom this era could have been named. One was the king of Ujjain of India and the other was the king of Vishalnagar, Nepal.
"Vikramaditya of Ujjain was surely not the founder of the Bikram Sambat as it is being publicised these days. This calendar was in use long before he was born," said academician of the Royal Nepal Academy, Gyanmani Nepal. But what complicates the matter is that there is not sufficient historical evidence supporting the Vikramaditya of Nepal. Interestingly, the era got its name as Bikram Samwat only in 401 BS. Earlier, it was known as Malawa Gana Samwat. "However, some archives found in the Kathmandu valley have mentioned Bikram Sambat," historian Nepal disclosed.
Mandeva Sambat, the then official calendar, was replaced by Nepal Sambat after 304 years of its practice in 879 AD and later in 1903 AD, the Nepal Sambat was replaced with Bikram Sambat. Naresh Bir Shakya of Nepal Bhasha Manka Khala (NBMK) said that the Rana rulers replaced the existing official calendar of Nepal Sambat with that of Bikram Sambat because the Nepal Sambat has 354 days in a year and that there is 13 months in a year after every three years, because of which they had to pay more salary to the government officials.
The BS New Year Day has religious and cultural importance too. People from the hills and terai worship Satya Narayan, Newars in Bhaktapur celebrate Bisketjatra and Tharus celebrate Seruwa to usher in the New Year.
Dr Samba Raj Acharya, professor of the eastern vedic Astrology at the Mahendra Sanskrit University, said, "The BS is a fusion of the lunar and solar calculations, which makes it different from any other calenders of the world." According to Dr Acharya, BS is scientific and pragmatic one because it is a combination of both lunar and solar calendars.
(This newsfeature was published in The Himalayan Times on April 13, 2004)