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Which Calendar Is Used in Nepal?

If you're curious about which calendar is used in Nepal, the Bikram Sambat or Vikram Samvat calendar holds a key position in the country's cultural fabric. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this calendar and how it differs from the Gregorian calendar commonly used worldwide? Discovering the intricacies and significance of this ancient calendar system might unveil a fascinating connection to Nepal's vibrant traditions and celebrations.

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Nepal Sambat Establishment

Established on October 20, 879 AD by Sankhadhar Sakhwa, Nepal Sambat, a unique lunar calendar, marked a significant milestone by becoming the official calendar under the Malla dynasty in Nepal. Unlike the widely used Bikram Sambat calendar, Nepal Sambat follows a lunar system, reflecting the traditional values and cultural heritage of the Nepali people.

Nepal Sambat, with its origins deeply rooted in history, holds a special place in the hearts of Nepalese individuals. It not only serves as a means to track time but also embodies a sense of national pride and identity. The year 1746 AD, as evidenced by ancient inscriptions, stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Nepal Sambat, showcasing its historical importance and cultural significance.

This calendar was not confined within the borders of Nepal alone; it transcended geographical boundaries and was embraced by Nepali merchants in Tibet for trade and daily activities. Its influence extended beyond just tracking days; it fostered a sense of unity among communities and celebrated the rich tapestry of Nepalese traditions.

Despite facing periods of suppression, Nepal Sambat prevailed, resilient in its essence and unwavering in its cultural value. The calendar continued to be a symbol of freedom, embodying the spirit of a nation that cherishes its history and traditions.

Historical Usage and Suppression

During historical periods of usage and suppression, Nepal Sambat, the official calendar established in 879 AD, faced various challenges but persisted as a symbol of cultural resilience and identity. Initially introduced under the Malla dynasty, Nepal Sambat was widely used, as evidenced by inscriptions from 1746 AD reflecting its adoption by Nepali merchants in Tibet and its prevalence in regions like Gorkha. Despite facing suppression during the Rana period, the calendar continued to be utilized during the Shahs period, with official documents in Lhasa and inscriptions in temples attesting to its significance.

The calendar's cultural significance became more pronounced during the revival campaign of the 1920s, symbolizing nationalism and identity. Unfortunately, Nepal Sambat experienced suppression once again under the Panchayat regime, resulting in the disruption of New Year events by the authorities in 1987. However, in 2011, Nepal Sambat was officially recognized as the national calendar, marking a significant milestone in its journey. This adoption led to the spread of New Year celebrations nationally and internationally, showcasing the calendar's enduring heritage and cultural importance.

Revival and Current Usage

Amidst its historical challenges and enduring significance, the Nepal Sambat calendar has experienced a remarkable revival, becoming a celebrated symbol of cultural heritage and national pride. The revival campaign that began in the 1920s aimed to preserve the rich cultural heritage of Nepal. The demand for Nepal Sambat gained momentum with the publication of Nepal Bhasa Manka Khala, a literary treasure that highlighted the importance of this traditional calendar system.

Despite facing suppression under the Panchayat regime, the Nepal Sambat calendar continued to be revered by the people as a symbol of nationalism and cultural identity. In a significant turn of events in 2011, Nepal Sambat was officially recognized and adopted as the national calendar of Nepal. This declaration sparked widespread celebrations both within the country and across international borders, showcasing the resilience and importance of this historical calendar system.

Today, the Nepal Sambat calendar is not only a means to mark time but also a testament to the enduring spirit of the Nepali people. Its current usage as the national calendar reflects a deep-rooted connection to tradition and a celebration of cultural heritage that continues to be cherished and honored by the nation.

Lunar Calendar and New Year

Nepal follows the Nepal Sambat national lunar calendar for ceremonial and religious festivals, emphasizing the cultural significance of lunar cycles in marking important occasions. The Sherpa people in Nepal celebrate Losar, their New Year, on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar. In the year 2148, the Sherpa community commemorates the Year of the Iron Ox following the Tibetan Calendar. Losar festivities are a vibrant display of cultural practices and rituals that hold significant meaning within the Sherpa community. These traditions not only mark the passage of time but also serve as a way to honor their heritage and connect with their roots.

The lunar calendar of Nepal plays a crucial role in shaping the cultural identity of the Sherpa people. It serves as a guide for organizing festivals, celebrations, and other important events throughout the year. Understanding and respecting the Sherpa calendar and traditions is essential in appreciating the rich cultural tapestry of Nepal. By partaking in the festivities surrounding Losar and learning about the significance of the Year of the Iron Ox, one can gain insight into the unique customs and beliefs that have been passed down through generations in the Sherpa community.

Milestones and Leap Year

The intricate leap year calculations of the Bikram Sambat calendar in Nepal present a unique perspective on timekeeping, particularly in relation to milestones and the alignment of celestial bodies. Here are some fascinating insights into how leap years and milestones are intertwined in the Bikram Sambat calendar:

  1. 67-Year Difference: Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Bikram Sambat calendar experiences a 67-year difference due to its leap year calculations, making it distinct and culturally significant.
  2. Sun and Moon's Positions: The leap years in the Bikram Sambat calendar are not fixed every four years but are determined by the intricate positions of the sun and moon, adding a layer of astronomical considerations to timekeeping.
  3. Cultural Significance: The leap year differences between the Bikram Sambat and Gregorian calendars hold deep cultural significance, shaping traditions and celebrations that mark important milestones in Nepali society.
  4. Historical Significance: The historical roots of the Bikram Sambat calendar's leap year calculations contribute to its importance, reflecting centuries-old practices and beliefs that have stood the test of time.

Understanding how leap years are calculated in the Bikram Sambat calendar not only sheds light on the unique timekeeping system in Nepal but also highlights the rich cultural and historical tapestry woven into the fabric of the country's calendar.