Nine new years in 365 days!
Keshav P. Koirala
Kathmandu, April 14
Bidding farewell to the year that was, folks are welcoming the New Year 2067 of Bikram Samwat on Wednesday. But revellers will not have to wait for 12 months to witness New Year. Thanks to our cultural diversity, there are many calendars in use and people get to celebrate New Year at least nine times in 365 days.
The first days of Bikram Samwat, Nepal Samwat, Gregorian calendar, Islamic or Hijri calendar, and Tola Losar, Sonam Losar, Gyalpo Losar, Tamu Lhochhar, and Magh 1 are observed as the new years in different communities. Change of the year plus cultural and religious importance aside, all these days have been projected as the matter of ethnic identity. The government, too, has recognised most of the days as public holidays.
There are debates over after who the era is named. But Bikram Samwat got its name about 800 years after its start. “History shows the era was known as Malawa Gana Samwat or Krita Samwat till the ninth century,” historian Gyanmani Nepal said.
Bikram Samwat, Nepal’s official calendar, is the fusion of solar and lunar calendars, while Gregorian calendar is solar and the Islamic calendar, which has only 354 or 355 days a year, is lunar. The new year days marked by the country’s Mongolian communities are calculated as per the Chinese calendar. “Tola Losar of Humli people, Sonam Losar of Tamang, Gyalpo Losar of Sherpa are marked according to lunar calculations,” said culture expert Dr. Jagman Gurung, “While the Gurung community celebrates Tamu Lhochhar as its new year on Poush 15 according to solar calculations.”
Though they do not have a separate calendar, Tharus celebrate their New Year on Magh 1. Kirat people also have started celebrating their New Year of Yele era on the same day.
Culture expert Satya Mohan Joshi believes that Bikram Samwat’s wide use and legacy is instrumental in uniting people. “People have started campaigning for their ethnic identity and pressing for the recognition of their calendar. However, Bikram Samwat is culturally associated with people of all castes and creeds and it can nurture Nepaliness.”
According to historians, Mandeva Samwat was official Nepal’s calendar till 879 AD, only to be replaced with Nepal Samwat and Bikram Samwat in 1903 AD.
New Year days
Bikram Samwat 2067 (April 14, 2010) *
Nepal Samwat 1131 (Nov. 6, 2010)*
Hijri Calendar 1432 (Dec. 7, 2010)
Tamu Lhochhar (Dec. 30, 2010 )*
Gregorian Calendar (Jan. 1, 2011)*
Tola Losar (Jan. 5, 2011)
Sonam Losar (Feb. 4, 2011)*
Yele Samwat, Maghi (Jan. 15, 2011)*
Gyalpo Losar (March 5, 2011)*
(Source: Department of Information)
*: Public holiday
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