Nepali calendar – Bikram Sambat

Nepali calendar – Bikram Sambat

The Nepali calendar includes the Hindu calendar Bikram Sambat (Vikram Samvat) and the days of the week, days of the month and anniversaries of the Gregorian calendar.

The Nepalese calendar, Nepali Patro – also called Nepali Bikram Sambat, in short BS – means all national holidays, cultural and religious festivals of all ethnic groups of Nepal. It includes mainly Dashain, Tihar, Teej, Chhath, Lhosar, Holi and Muslim Eid.

Difference in years

Nepali Bikram Sambat is ahead of the Gregorian calendar – counted as the Anno Domini – for about 56 years and 8 months. According to a popular legend, the ancient ruler of ancient India, Vikramaditya of Ujjain established the era of Vikram Samvat after he defeated the Saki tribes, that was in 57 BC. Therefore, according to Bikram Sambat in the current year 2018, we will have 2075 BS.

The Nepalese calendar counts syderic years – in the solar cycle – and lunar months – according to the lunar cycle.

Solar cycle and lunar cycle

The Nepali New Year falls in the solar cycle on the first day of the month of Baishakh, that is in the middle of April. The Bikram Sambat solar cycle is mainly used for marking dates related to public holidays. In 2018, the new BS solar year will start on April 14, the first day after the new moon of the Baishakh month.

At the same time, the New Lunar Year is taken into account in the second half of March, that is in the month of Chaitra. Bikram Sambat lunar cycle is used to mark festivals based on religious traditions. The lunar year 2075 BS began on Sunday, March 18, 2018, that is, Chaitra Sukla Pratipada day.

Lunar month

One month is exactly 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds. Twelve such months constitute the lunar year 354 days 8 hours 48 minutes and 36 seconds. To help lunar months coincide with the solar year, every three years the thirteenth month is added – adhika māsa.

As you can see below – the month in the Bikram Sambat calendar can count from 28 to 32 days.

And so – counting the months of the Vikram Sambat calendar from the beginning of the solar cycle, or the moment of the Sun entering the Aries Zodiac, we have:

No.NameIn devangariIn gregorianNumber of daysFestivals
1.Baishakh बैशाख april-may30-31 Ganga Saptami, Buddda Purnima
2.Jesthजेठmay-june31-32
3.Ashadh अषाढ़ june-july31-32 Vyasa Purnima
4.Shravanश्रावण july-august31-32 Hariyali Teej, Raksha Bandhan
5.Bhadra भाद्र august-september31-32 Krishna Janmashtami, Hartalika Teej
6.Ashwin आश्विन septemer-october30-31 Saraswati Avahan, Durga Ashtami, Dussehra (Navratri)
7.Kartikकार्तिक october-november29-30 Diwali Amyavasa
8.Mangshir मंसिरnovember-december29-30 Annapurna Purnima
9.Poush पौषdecember-january29-30 Tamu Lhosar
10.Magh माघ january-february29-30 Makar Sankranti (Pongal), Saraswati Panchami
11.Falgunफाल्गुनfebruary-march 29-30 Maha Shivaratri , Sonam Lhosar, Falgu Purnima (Holi)
12.Chaitra चैत्रmarch-april30-31 Chaitra Navaratri (Ram Navami)

Paksha or cycle of lunar phases

15 tithi is Paksa, or two weeks of the lunar cycle. Within a month, Sukla Paksa (or Gaura Paksa) stands out – that is, the rising moon, i.e. from new to full – and Kriṣhṇa Paksa (or Vadhya Paksha) – a waning moon, from full moon to new moon.

During the Sukla Paksa phase – that is, from the first day after Amavasya, the new moon – the days are also called ‘sukla’ and are considered to be generally successful for activities related to the conclusion of contracts or business.

However, the days in the Krisna Paksa phase – that is from the first day after Purnima, the full moon – are considered rather unfortunate. This time Vedic astrology recommends as beneficial for collecting crops, extraction of honey from beehives, for personal introspection, for performing operations and for the implementation of holidays and psycho-physical recreation.

People with an emotional disposition perceive the phase of the waning moon as highly beneficial in planning or in other important activities, while in the phase of the growing moon they feel insomnia emotional instability, inability to concentrate and make decisions.

Days – Tithi

The smallest unit of the calendar is tithi, which is the day. Tithi are counted according to the moon cycle. Individual tithi start at different times of the day, and the length of the day varies from about 19 to about 27 hours.

Bikram Sambat in its traditional form does not use dates in the monthly cycle – 1,2,3 … 30,31 – only the names of subsequent days in the cycle of one Paksa – like Pratipada, Dwitiya, Tritiya … Purnima/Amavasya. In today’s calendars, both the names of days and numbers are used to denote days. Therefore, the festival names often have the names of subsequent calendar days, eg. Narka Chaturdasi: Narkasur is the name of the demon, which must be defeated on the eve of the Diwali festival, Chaturdasi and Paksha’s fourteenth day. The next day is Diwali Amavasya, or the moon of the month of Kartik, in which Diwali is celebrated.

The names of the next days are the same in both lunar phases, except on the last, fifteenth day. This day is full moon, or Purnima in the phase of Shukla Paksha, or the new moon, or Amavasya, or Ausi for Krishna Paksha.

No.Devangari No.Paksha days
1.Pratipada. Prathama
2.Dwitiya
3.Tritiya
4.Chaturthi
5.Panchami
6.Shashti
7.Saptami
8.Ashtami
9.Navami
10.१०Dashami
11.११Ekadashi
12.१२Dwadashi
13.१३Trayodashi
14.१४Chaturdashi
15.१५Purnima/ Amavasya, Ausi

In the table, besides the names of subsequent days, I also give the numbers of subsequent days in the devangari notation of the Nepalese language (although it is known that – as well as in Europeanized digits – the style of writing can sometimes differ). The meaning of the names is exactly: First, Fifth, Eleventh …

As a curiosity for the researchers of the topic, I say that individual festivals are celebrated in the regions often with the difference of one day. For example, Holi – one of the most popular festivals in Nepal – the people of Terai celebrate a day later than in the hills. This information is rather for those who would like – like us – to take a personal part in regional celebrations.

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