It may soon be curtains for Bikram Sambat

Kathmandu, May 31:

As the nation assumes a semblance of political stability, human rights campaigners and political activists alike are clamouring for a change of the national calendar.

They say the Bikram Era is a leftover of a feudalistic society that needs to be done away with and replaced by a system that is more acceptable to a democratic society.

While the world reverted to the Gregorian calendar in 1582, Nepal chose to adopt the Bikram Sambat — a calendar named after a King — as its official calendar.

“We will intensify our demand for a new national calendar after the government settles the major political issues,” Malla K Sundar, a politician-turned-human-rights-campaigner, told this daily today.

He said organisations like the Newa De Daboo and the Mankha Khala — both active in the social and intellectual uplift of the Newari community — have been fighting for a new national calendar for a long time.

“We approached a number of erstwhile governments on the issue. I remember former prime ministers Sher Bahadur Deuba and Surya Bahadur Thapa assuring us that needful would be done on this front. But nothing came out of their assurances.”

He said the Nepal Sambat and the Gregorian calendar were equally acceptable, adding, it was up to the people to make the ultimate decision.

“Bikram Era was forced on the Nepalis by feudal elements. We have since come a long way and a change is long overdue,” said Dr Krishan Bhattachan, a sociologist. He agreed with Malla that the existing calendar was biased towards the Brahmans.

He also emphasised the need for extensive discussions on the issue. “Nepal Sambat, for example, has the backing of the Newar community but may not be acceptable to others.”

“It doesn’t matter to me whether we switch over to a Georgian calendar or a one based on Nepal Sambat.”