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Monday, October 19, 2009

Nepal Sambat

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nepal Sambat (Nepal Bhasa: नेपाल सम्बत) is the national lunar calendar of Nepal.  It was used whole over Nepal in Medieval Nepal and early part of modern Nepal till Chandra Sumsher decided to remove it in BS 1960.  It was started in 880 AD during the reign of King Raghav Dev to commemorate the pay back of all the debts of Nepalese people by a Nepalese called Sankhadhar Sakhwa. Local legend has it that he raised the funds through alchemy, turning the sand of the Bagmati river to gold dust. Gregorian calendar is also widely used due to it international acceptance and Nepal Sambat has its own special relevance for Newars living in Nepal. Nepal Sambat is one among few of the native calendars to Nepal.Most of others either passed over the time or only maintain existence in the religious calendars called Patro.

Structure


Nepal Samvat , a lunar calendar, is a variant of "saka sambat" a Hindu calendar with main difference being, Nepal sambat lags saka sambat by 802 years. It consists of 354 days per year due to the fact lunar month has 29 or 30 days based on the movement of the moon. So it necessitates a month adhik mas to be added every third year. This calendar came into being and into official use during the reign of king Raghabdev, immediately after the completion of the Saka Samvat 802 (on 20 October 879 AD). The year 804 was approaching within a year and according to legend, his decision was guided by his fear of number 804, that some people still believe, brings misfortune. People with traditional belief still try to escape with number 8 that comes together with 12 (in Nepali -ath barha). Doing math correctly,804 adds up to 12 and 804 means 8 along with 12.



Nepal Samvat is a unique calendar in the sense,all other calendars are named after some rulers or religious leaders. Nepal Samvat is the only calendar which is named after a country. This calendar is said to have been introduced by a common subject Shankhadhar Sakhwa by clearing on his own all debts owing to the state by the then subjects of Nepal. This calendar was in continuous official use Nepal (and not just in Kathmandu valley as is widely thought) and had significant influence to be mentioned in the documents of Tibet, China, and kingdoms of northern India. After the unification of Nepal, under the Shah rulers, the calendar was in use as is evident by Sugauli Treaty. In 1903 AD, Rana prime minister Chandra Shamsher replaced Nepal Samvat with the Bikram Samvat, a Lunisolar calendar, which is in use as the official calendar in Nepal till date. Since the founder of the Nepal Samvat, Sankhadhar Sakhwa has been recognized as a national hero of Nepal. Nepalese people especially, inside Kathmandu Valley,are also demanding to preserve as well as reintroduce the Nepal Samvat as Nepal's official calendar.


Year 2000 AD refers to year 1120 in Nepal Sambat, or 2057 in the official Bikram Sambat calendar.


This calendar was widely used in official use during the Malla period in Kathmandu valley. After the unification of Nepal, Saka sambat took ground and later on, during the premiership of Chandra SJBR Bikram Sambat were recognized for official use. This calendar, Nepal sambat, is being revived, especially in Kathmandu valley, over the last 3 decades. Moreover, the calendar was widely used by Newars for cultural and religious purpose inside the Kathmandu because of its relation with festivals Jatra that are celebrated in Valley


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