The coming 19th October 2009 has special meaning, both politically and culturally. It coincides with the Nepal Sambat 1130 which has been endorsed by the Government as official as Vikram Sambat which is currently being practiced and which falls under Kartik 2, 2065. What makes Nepal Sambat so skeptical and controvertial (for those who want to adhere to running Vikram Sambat) and so curious and enthusiastic (for those nationalists who want to own homegrown era in nation’s name). It is not that there are no other home grown eras like Lhosar Era celeberated by the Tamangs, Kirat Era celebrated by Kirati community, Mythali Era celebrated by Mythaly community etc. But what makes Nepal Sambat so pressing to be adopted as national Nepal Sambat is primarily due to the fact that it originated in most developed place, the Kathmandu vally and it was established by an ordinary Newar businessman, Shankhadhar Sakhwa. He belonged to the indigenous lingual community residing in Kathmandu vally who are far most developed as complete national having common language, common psychological mindset, common economy and fixed geography. The specificity of Newars is that despite being multi-religious, multi-regional, multi-racial they are bound together by one language and that is Newari language. And additionally it served the country for longest period before being sucked by Saka Sambat and then finally Vikram Sambat now in practice. In fact so developed Kathmandu valley and its inhabitants the Newars that people residing outside the valley used to call Kathmandu valley as Nepal. Another most specificity of this Era is it is not named after religion, or ethnicity, or king but in the name of the country, Nepal. A person clearing debt for the people, whether mythically or really evokes nationalism. Last but most importantly most of the cultural celebrations are based on Nepal Sambat lunar calendar.
At this juncture it is important to note that universally nations after nations are now adopting Gregorian calendar based onsolar system which has been proved to be most scientific so far. Along with this phenomena nations after nations are adopting their home grown national era as cultural national era to be celebrated such as Shakh Era in India and Lhosar as China’s cultural national era. From this point of view the nationalist people of Nepal has been launching movement to establish Nepal Era as national era in place of Vikram Sambad. They are also asking to establish Christian Era for day to day functioning as it is not only most scientific but also practiced in many places.
What makes Nepal Sambad interesting is that it was declared by an ordinary Newar businessman Shankhadhar Sakhow who had gone to fetch sand from Bishnumati river which was found to be gold the next day. He is supposed to have paid off depth of the people thus making them free. It is in celebration of that day when the people of Nepal got debt-free that this era was sanctioned by the King Raghab Dev who was ruling in Kantipur (now Kathmandu district). It was started from 20th of October 879 Thursday. It is lunar calendar and it begins with the day of new moon of Kartik (Kachhala). 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.
It is interesting to note that Vikram Sambad is named after the king Vikramaditya in Ujjain in India. It was Chandra Shamsher Rana who introduced Vikram Sambat during Rana period. What is interesting is that although both Vikram Sambat and Nepal Sambat are luner calender based, most of the culural festivals are dated based on Nepal Sambad. The contradiction at present is that Vikram Sambat is in use at the cost of Nepal Sambat.
Here one is not trying to compare which Sambat, Nepal Sambat or Vikram Sambat is better or more scientific. What is for sure is that both being luner based are far behind Gregorian calender based on solar calender. The hour of the day is to adopt the most scientific calendar which is Gregarian calendar for day to day use which is yet not in practice in Nepal. With the same spirit cultural calendar reflecting Nepal specific culture should be practiced. If former is hard core day to day reality then latter is notional psychological reality. It is important to note that cultural calendar will differ from country to country hence will have no meaning in international interaction except as part of cultural tourism.
Today the struggle to establish Nepal Sambat is also related with whether one is being with old mindset or new. There is a rightist conservationist tendency which does not want to recognize Nepal Sambat at all, they are the one who are still with the old mindset of unitary state there is middle roader vascilitating tendency who gives official recognition to Nepal Sambat but falls short of implementing it and there is forward-looking tendency who are for not only for officially recognizing it but for implementing it. In fact they want to go ahead to implement Gregorian calendar for day to day activity so that they can catch up with the region and the world around.
In totality the euphoria for implementing Nepal Sambat as national Sambat in this globalized world is like being proud of Mount Everest globally and nationally. Globally one is proud of Mt Everest because it is the highest peaks in the world which everyone wants to conquer but not everybody can. But at the same time one lands up respecting the original country and its people where it is placed without hurting one’s own country’s specific beauties.
Politically Nepal Sambat is important as it carries the identity and ownership of the country exerting internal as well as external nationalism. Internally, Nepal Sambat being originated from Kathmandu vally, will respect the aspiration of Newars who are fighting for creating Newar autonomous state when the country goes to federalism. Externally, it will help exert nationalism by discarding foreign based Vikram Sambad which even the concerned country has discarded using for day to day activities. It is interesting to know that it took First People’s Movement in 1990, for the interim government under the Prime-Minster, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai to officially recognize Shankha Dhar Shakwa as national Bibhuti, and it took People’s War together with Second People’s Movement to officially recognize Nepal Sambat as national Sambat by the interim government in 2006 under the Prime-minister, Pushpakamal Dahal. Are we then waiting for another higher People’s War and Movement to implement Nepal Sambat?