“Nyugu Da ya Vintuna”
This is how you wish a New year in Nepal Bhasa (Newari language). Each year, the Newa people, residing inside and outside of Kathmandu valley celebrate their new year on the fourth day of Yamapanchak Tihar (Swanti).
Although the day is more popular for Mha Puja, Govardhan Puja and Deusi Khelne din, people do not forget to wish Nyugu Da too. History says that for at least four millennia, we the civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year.
Different time zones, phases and rulers have had their own calendars and eras in the past, which gradually directed to the differences in the new year celebration. In Nepal too, we follow three calendars. The gregorian, Bikram Sambat and lastly Nepal Sambat. The gregorian and Bikram Sambat is said to be the borrowed calendars of Nepal while Nepal Sambat is of native Nepal.
There is an interesting story regarding how the Nepal Sambat started in Nepal. Here, although the fact is true that Nepal Sambat started on 20 October, 879 A.D. yet the story related to its start-up is quite unbelievable.
Whenever we talk about the Nepal Sambat, the very first name that comes up in our mind is, of course, Shankhadhar Shakwa, also spelt Sankhadhar Sākhwāl. It is said that Sakhwal was a post, with due respect by the King of that era, given to the Shankhdhar.
The legend of Shankhadhar is quite interesting since it mentions the real characters like the king of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, King Raghav Deva and Ananda Deva I respectively. It was said that, at that phase, Lalitpur was the capital of the valley and Ananda Deva I was ruling over Bhaktapur.
But both of them were quite worried about the economic status of their nation. People were all drowned in debts, thus a kind of enormous economic crisis was befallen in the city. In such a situation, a famous astrologer of Bhaktapur came up with a solution.
He suggested the Juju (the King) arrange for people to bring sand from the bank of the Bishnumati river of Kathmandu. With that, he also stated that the sand must be taken in an auspicious time. Explaining all the consequences and merits of his suggestion to the king only, he then left the rest of the work to the porters.
The porters too, as planned early in the morning went to the Bishnumati river and get the sand out from there. Coincidentally, the native of Kathmandu named Shankhadhar noticed them and ask why they came this far to get sand?
Within that small talk, he somehow suspects that there must be something special about the sand. Thus, he convinced those porters to sell them to him. Shankhadhar was said to be a merchant so he probably easily convinced them to sell it to him.
The porters too sold the sand and get another batch of sand from the bank of the river. Unaware of the fact that sand taken on the auspicious time turns out into gold, the porters landed normal sand to the king.
The very next day, when the King went to see the sand, expecting it to turn into gold, he got shocked whereas, Shankhadhar also got shocked seeing all the sands turned into gold. The king and the astrologers did an investigation concerning where on earth did they go wrong. So in the process, they found out that a merchant bought it from the porters.
Which after, they console themselves saying we got what we are destined for. On the other hand, Shankhadhar, getting that much gold thought about helping people out with their debts. Thus, he then paid all the debts of the native people.
Did you know that he was called the person who could give loans to the nation?
Further, he then turned out to be the real hero for all. Seeing his good deed, the King also grant his wish to start a new era, the Nepal Sambat. During that time, Shaka Sambat was already in existence. Yet, Nepal Sambat found its place over that time.
It was then officially started to be used as the national calendar until the reign of Kathmandu valley was taken over by King Prithivi Narayan Shah. Nevertheless, we still celebrate it with the same fad and use it to celebrate our traditional festivals. Almost all the events that eventually takes place in Kathmandu valley (like Jatras, Naach, festivals) is marked with the Nepal Sambat.
Since Nepal Sambat was pioneered by Shankhadhar, it is also called Shankhadharkrit Sambat. With that, it has several more names like Nepaliya Sambat, Nepal Desiya Sambat and Nepal Sambat, of course.