Bikram Sambat: The Traditional Hindu Calendar System and the Nepali New Year Celebration
Bikram Sambat, also known as the Vikram Samvat, is a traditional Hindu calendar system that has been used in various parts of South Asia for centuries. It is named after King Vikramaditya, a legendary ruler of ancient India, and is based on a solar year of 365.2425 days. The Bikram Sambat year typically begins in mid-April and is celebrated as the Nepali New Year, known as Bisket Jatra in some parts of Nepal.
The Bikram Sambat calendar has a rich history and cultural significance, particularly in Nepal, where it is the official calendar. It is also used in parts of India and Bangladesh. According to legend, King Vikramaditya established the calendar to commemorate his victory over the Shakas, a Central Asian tribe that had invaded India. The calendar was first introduced in Nepal in the 14th century by the Malla kings, who ruled over the Kathmandu Valley.
The Bikram Sambat calendar has twelve months, each with 30 or 31 days. The first month is Baisakh, which begins in mid-April, and the last month is Chaitra, which ends in mid-April. The months are named after various Hindu deities, such as Baishakha after the god Vishnu, and Kartik after the god Kartikeya.
The Nepali New Year, also known as Navavarsha or simply Nepali New Year, is one of the most important festivals in Nepal and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal. The festival typically falls on the first day of the month of Baisakh, which usually falls on April 13 or 14 in the Gregorian calendar. The day is marked by various rituals and customs, including cleaning and decorating homes, visiting temples and shrines, and exchanging gifts and greetings with family and friends.
One of the most famous New Year celebrations in Nepal is the Bisket Jatra, which is held in the town of Bhaktapur, near Kathmandu. The festival lasts for several days and includes various cultural and religious events, such as parades, processions, and street performances. The highlight of the festival is the chariot procession, in which large wooden chariots carrying statues of Hindu deities are pulled through the streets by devotees.
In conclusion, Bikram Sambat is an important and fascinating calendar system that has played a significant role in the cultural and religious traditions of South Asia, particularly Nepal. The Nepali New Year, which falls on the first day of Baisakh, is a time of great joy and celebration, marked by various customs and rituals that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage. The Bisket Jatra, held in Bhaktapur, is a particularly spectacular event that draws thousands of visitors from around the world. Overall, Bikram Sambat is a testament to the enduring power and beauty of South Asian culture and tradition.