Sunday, April 12, 2015

Nepa Chhen Greets Bikram Sambat New Year 2072 with Various Programs

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Advisor,  Nepa Chhen, Portland, Oregon, USA

The Nepalese people living in Nepal and living across the world are welcoming the Bikram Sambat New Year 2072 with new optimism, enthusiasm and resolution.

Bikram Sambat -- which was created by emperor Bikramaditya of Ujjain, India following his victory over the Sakas in 56 BC -- is the official calendar of Nepal. In fact, Bikram Sambat was introduced in Nepal during the period of Rana autocracy. Prior to that, Saka Sambat was the official calendar of Nepal.

Although Bikram Sambat which derives its name from emperor Bikramaditya, is an official holiday in Nepal, it is not enthusiastically celebrated by the people in Nepal like Nepal Sambat and Lhosar. However, the Nepalese people across the world celebrate the Bikram Sambat New Year as a part of maintaining Nepalese traditions and culture.

Although there are growing signs of discontent with the Bikram Sambat  as the official calendar of Nepal among some sections of Nepalese population especially among the ethnic communities, Bikram Sambat is still used popularly for almost all practical purposes in Nepal except the cultural and ritual procedures.

Detractors of Bikram Sambat calendar claim that Bikram Sambat does not have anything related to Nepal, and it is so true. So why did the Ranas scrap the Saka Sambat and replaced it with the Bikram Sambat? Emperor Bikramaditya was a Hindu emperor. Therefore, ostensible reason for Hindu Ranas to adopt Bikram Sambat could be because it was created by a Hindu emperor.

But Saka Sambat which was officially used in Nepal prior to the Bikram Sambat is also not related to Nepal. In fact, Saka Sambat is official calendar of India today, along with the Gregorian calendar. First of all, it is very important to clarify that Bikram Sambat is not a Nepali calendar as wrongly claimed by its diehard opponents. Yes, Bikram Sambat is official calendar of Nepal, but again it is not a Nepali calendar. Gregorian Calendar (Christian Calendar) is an official calendar not only of the UK, the US, Canada, many European countries but it was an official calendar even in the non-Christian Communist Soviet Union. Gregorian calendar is an official calendar of India too, along with Saka Sambat.

It goes without saying that arguments must not be for the sake of arguments. Criticism and arguments should be healthy, logical and rational and should not be based on jingoism and chauvinism. I have never read or seen anything that describes Bikram Sambat as Nepali Sambat. Some sections of the Nepalese community is harbouring a deep ambivalence about the Bikram Sambat when they wrongly claim that we should not celebrate India-born Bikram Sambat as Nepali New Year. First of all, no body can say or claim that Bikram Sambat is a Nepali calendar. To celebrate it or not simply depends on their personal wish or freedom. We cannot and should not impose anything in a free and democratic society.

To say that we have been taught wrong history just demonstrates ignorance and lack of information and knowledge because even high school students in Nepal are aware that Bikram Sambat is not a Nepali calendar.

Anyway, it is  a matter of great satisfaction that Bikram Sambat New Year is celebrated by the Nepalese communities across the US too. In Portland, Oregon Nepal's official new year is celebrated every year by Nepalese Association of Oregon (NAO) and Nepa Chhen separately.

Nepa Chhen, a non-profit organization of the Nepalese community in Portland - which champions the cause of enhancing Nepalese arts, culture and traditions and which aims to build a community house - greeted the Vikram Sambat New Year 2072 by organizing a reception program with various activities on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at Nekusing Memorial Theater, Hollywood Taekwondo School in Portland.

Welcoming the guests on the occasion, Nepa Chhen's advisor Diwakar Maharjan threw light on the organization's activities. On the occasion. Nepal Chhen's president Rajesh Maharjan wrapped Khata on the new Nepalese community members.

More than 100 people  attended the reception. Though there were lots of songs and dances during the reception, it was Mamata Dipbim who stole the show. Portland's Nepali Rock Group "Manda" was also the center of cynosure. A raffle game was also organized with the fund-raising purpose.

Well, I think with the passing of time,  New Years keep coming and going, and we meet new people, new experiences, new hopes, new dreams and maturity in our lives.

*Shakya is also State Education Director, NRNA-USA Oregon Chapter, Portland, USA.

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