Monday, October 23, 2006

Sherchan for recognising Nepal Sambat

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, October 22:
Thousands of activists, mostly Newars, have been making a hue and cry since the past 26 years calling governments to recognise the cultural identity of the Nepal Sambat (Era) and announce it as the national calendar by replacing the existing Bikram Sambat, but nothing to this effect has happened yet.
Deputy PM Amik Sherchan today said he would table a proposal on recognising Nepal Sambat as the country’s national calendar in the Thursday’s cabinet meeting and also sought an application from the activists as a proposal to the government.
“I only need a letter from some coordinating organisation as a proposal to the government. I also want to see Nepal Sambat recognised,” he said addressing a programme of Jyapu Samaj, orgnised on the eve of Nepal Sambat 1127 New Year.
This statement, however, has not come as an encouraging development to the people who have been rallying across the Kathmandu Valley to observe the native Nepali Sambat New Year.
Chairman of Newa Day Daboo, the national forum of the Newars, [Malla K Sundar] said: “It is customary for all political leaders to deliver encouraging speeches to the audience, whom they consider a vote bank, but do almost nothing when it is time to make a ground-breaking change.”
“Since long, we have been hearing prime ministers and other prominent leaders highlighting the significance of the Nepal Sambat. But, unfortunately, our demand of having it recognised it still a distant dream,” he said.
“It is strange that the governments are indifferent to Nepal Sambat. Recognition to the Nepal Sambat will establish Nepal as the only country in the world with its native calendar and pave way to use the international Gregorian calendar for day-to-day affairs,” said Prof Prem Shanti Tuladhar, the chairperson to New Year Celebration Committee.
Since the calendar was formulated 1,126 years ago, it was the only Nepali official calendar in historic times. Still, people either turn their back to it or incorrectly claim that it only belongs to the Newars,” she said. Human Rights activist and chairman of Nepal Bhasha Mankaa Khala, Padma Ratna Tuladhar said the government must make a clear policy on why to choose a certain calendar and which one to choose rather than blindly following the one handpicked by Chandra Sumshere Rana.
“It is sympathetic that we don’t have a policy on following a specific calendar. We need a clear policy, in the constitution, to decide which calendar should be followed and why. After going through the big change on monarchy, we must ask why we cannot discard the Bikram Sambat which is related with a legendary monarch and why we cannot accept a citizen’s legacy,” he said.
History has it that a commoner Sankhadhar Sakhwa introduced the Nepal Sambat after donating all his wealth to free Nepalis from debt during the reign of King Raghavdev on October 20, 897. The Nepal Sambat is based on lunar movements and is followed to observe all Hindu and Buddhist festivals.