Nepal celebrates new year

October 27th, 2011 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 27 (IANS) While other countries in South Asia celebrated Dipawali in various forms this week, Nepal ushered in its indigenous new year with gusto Thursday, ringing out the year 1131 and ringing in 1132.

Nepal’s Newar community, the original inhabitants of Katmandu Valley and a people known for their business acumen as well as artistic and architectural talents, took out rallies in the valley, playing traditional instruments and dressed in traditional finery, to celebrate the start of the new year according to the Newari calendar, known as Nepal Sambat.

Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, whose wife Hisila Yami belongs to the Newar community, hailed the calendar as Nepal’s national legacy that started on a joyous note of emancipation.

According to popular belief, the calendar came into effect in 880 AD to signify Kathmandu valley’s liberation from bondage and debts after a common man, Sankhadhar Sakhwa, who was also an alchemist, transmuted sand into gold and paid the national debt of the valley to its ruler Raghav Dev.

In the past, Nepal, including the government, followed the Newar calendar till it was replaced by prime minister Chandra Shumsher Rana in the 20th century.

The Ranas, who were close to India, switched over to the Vikram Sambat calendar popularised in India by Indian emperor Vikramaditya.

In one calendar year, Nepal has the unique distinction of heralding the new year multiple times.

In winter, the Kirats, a community predominant in eastern Nepal, will celebrate the start of the Kirat new year 5072 as per the Yele Sambat, the calendar named after their first king Yelamber Hang.

It will be a roller-coaster ride on the time machine in January as the Gurungs, a mountain people who migrated from Tibet in the 6th century, will welcome their new year 2069.

Then come mid-January and Tamangs, another community with Tibetan roots, will celebrate their ethnic year 2088. In February, it will be the turn of Tibetans to observe their new year Lhosar.

When it is April and spring, Nepal will then finally celebrate the traditional Nepali year in accordance with the Vikram Sambat calendar that is also followed in parts of India.

In 2012 April, Nepal will celebrate the beginning of Vikram Sambat 2069.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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