Monday, October 27, 2003

Government nod for Nepal Era, finally

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, October 26

The government today finally recognised the Nepal Era as the national calendar.

The movement started 24 years ago by the Nepalbhasa Mankaa Khalaa (NMK) to recognise the era was initiated by a Nepali, Sankhadhar Sakhwaa, the legend goes. The Nepal era follows the lunar system, by which most of Nepal's festivals are determined.

"The Nepal Era has got national recognition now, there is no doubt," Minister for Information and Communication Kamal Thapa said today, adding the Nepal Era should be used widely in public and ways to use it practically should be discussed.

Thapa was addressing a programme to launch a new postage stamp with the portrait of Sakhwaa who was recognised as the National Luminary by the government on November 18, 1999.

According to the legend, written in Bhasa Cronicle, Sakhwaa initiated the Nepal Era after he got citizens of Kathmandu out of their debts. That was possible as he got a huge treasure during the reign of King Raghav Dev. He had seen some porters bringing sacks of sand from the Bishnumati river on an auspicious day as per the king's order. Sakhwaa thought of it as extraordinary and bought the sand himself. On the next day, on October 20, 879 AD, the sand turned into gold powder with which he could let people be free of their debts and he, then, initiated the era.

Minister Thapa said all Nepali citizens are indebted to Sakhwaa, adding the contributions of "this great person" should not be confined to a small territory or any one community, but should be considered as national heritage.

Naresh Bir Shakya, secretary

of NMK, said though they have been raising the issue of recognising the Nepal Era by the state for the past 24 years, previous governments never acted. "I think it is a great achievement of the NMK movement. Now, people will be inspired to use the Nepal Era in public, too," he added.

In 1980, the NMK had started the movement to demand not only recognition from the state but also exchange New Year greetings. The movement also worked as a platform to protest against the Panchayati System before 1990, but later it turned into a cultural festival.

Nepal Era was the official calendar for over a thousand years in the history of the Kathmandu Valley and today it serves historians for study of historical documents all of which have dates from the ninth to the 19th century according to the Nepal Era.