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New Years in Nepal

Updated on October 29, 2013

Nepal in Figures

Name: Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal

Area: 147,181 sq km

Official language: Nepali

Recognized regional languages: More than 100 indigenous languages

Number of communities living in Nepal: More than 92

Kingdom declared: 21 December 1768 (Beginning of Shah dynasty, the last ruling dynasty in Nepal)

State declared: 15 January 2007 (Interim Constitution 2007, which was promulgated after the end of decade long Maoist insurgency)

Republic declared: 28 May 2008

Population: Approximately 29,331,000; 41st most populous country

Women in the parliament: 33% (out of 600)

Life expectancy: 62 years

Literacy rate: 48.6%

UN Human Development Index: 142, out of 177 countries.

What is Losar?

Losar is New Year Festival in Tibet, which is also celebrated by three different indigenous communities in Nepal, Tamang, Sherpa and Gurung. The word Losar has origins in the Tibetan culture. Losar celebration began in Tibet long before Tibet accepted Buddhism. Ancient Tibet practiced Bon religion. In winter a Bon religious ceremony was held, deities were propitiated with incense, food and drinks. Later this festival was modified as Losar or the New Year's festival.

On the night of 31st December, along with the world, Nepal welcomes New Year. However, Gregorian calendar is not officially recognized in Nepal. The widely accepted New Year will come only in the middle of April, when Nepal officially celebrates the beginning of New Year. This is according to the Vikram calendar, which is the official calendar in Nepal. Apart from these two New Year’s of Gregorian and Vikram calendar, Nepal officially recognizes seven other New Years.

Gregorian Calendar

Nepal Government corresponds with other countries according to Gregorian calendar.January 1st is not a holiday in Nepal, unless it is a Saturday (Weekdays begins from Sunday). However, the private sector and urban youth use Gregorian calendar.

Maghi: The Tharu New Year

Nepali anthropologists have extensively written that the Tharu community is the direct descendent of Shakya, the clan of the Buddha. There are many archaeological evidences to support this fact. Interestingly, the Tharu community largely follows Hindu tradition. According to 2001 census (the new census 2011 is yet to be published), 5.6 percent of people living in Nepal are Tharus.

Tharus are considered aboriginal people living in the southern foothills, near India. Their language belongs to Indo-Aryan group.

Though there is no record of Tharu calendar, Maghi, which falls in January, is generally believed to be the Tharu's New Year. The Nepal government officially recognizes Maghi as the New Year of Tharu community. Maghi, which falls on 15th of January, 2012, is a New Year holiday in Nepal.

Sonam Losar: The New Year of Tamang community

Tamangs are believed to be the oldest tribe of Nepal. According to the Tamang legend, Kathmandu called Yambu was their ancient capital. Lhochhar (also called Losar) is combined from Lho (new) and Chhar (year). Lhochhar or Losar marks the beginning of Tamang New Year. Tamangs will celebrate Sonam Losar, or the New Year, in January 24, 2012.

Tamang comprises of 5.6 percent of the total population. They are sparsely distributed, but majority of the Tamangs are mainly concentrated to the central hilly districts. Apart from Nepal, Tamangs also live in India, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Tibet.

Tamang language falls in Tibeto-Burman language group. Their script is called Sambhota. Tamangs celebrate Hindu as well as Buddhist festivals in their own version. The Tamang originally practiced Bon religion but today they are the largest population in Nepal to follow Buddhism in Nepal.

Animal Sacrifice is important aspect of New Year celebrations in Nepal
Animal Sacrifice is important aspect of New Year celebrations in Nepal | Source

Galbo Losar: The New Year of Sherpa Community

Galbo Losar is the New Year of Sherpas in Nepal, which falls in February (24th February in 2012). The most famous of all Sherpas is Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who climbed Mount Everest along with Edmund Hillary in 1953.

Sherpas are mountain-dwelling people of Nepal, Sikkim in India, and Tibet. The Sherpas of Nepal live in the Solukhumbu district, just beneath the Everest and her sister Himalayas. The Sherpa language belongs to the south branch of the Tibetan language family and does not have a distinct written script.

It is believed Sherpas migrated to Nepal, in the last 400 years, from the Kham region in eastern Tibet. In the recent years Sherpas are also migrating to the West, especially to the United States. According to the 2001 Nepal Census, 154,622 Sherpas are living in Nepal. Majority of Sherpas are Buddhists, and very few people practice Hinduism, Christianity or Bon.

New Year is overtly religious even in Nepal
New Year is overtly religious even in Nepal | Source
250 years old place of founder of modern Nepal
250 years old place of founder of modern Nepal | Source

Vikram Calendar

Vikram is a Hindu calendar named after Vikram Aditya, also called Vikramaditya, who is believed to be the king of Ujjyan, India. Legend has it Vikramaditya, after hearing the prosperity of Nepal, came to Kathmandu Valley in disguise. After his identity was discovered, the ruler of Kathmandu offered him the reign and appointed King of Nepal. Thus began the advent of Vikram calendar.

There are many myths surrounding King Vikramaditya. One of the most popular myths is his devotion to Vajrayogini, the Buddhist Goddess. Every night King Vikramaditya applied spices all over his body and fried himself in a wok. At midnight Goddess Vajrayayogini arrived and feasted the human roast. The next day, the king found himself sleeping soundly and the wok full of gold.

According to Vikram calendar widely used in Nepal and India the year 2011 AD is 2068 Vikram Samvat.

Shrawan: The Beginning of New Fiscal Year

The new fiscal year is not actually a New Year, however, Hindu month Shrawan marks the beginning of new economic calendar in Nepal. Announcement of government policy and budget is highly anticipated happenings in Nepal. The new fiscal year begins somewhere in the middle of July.

Nepal Sambat (Calendar): The New Year of Newar People

The civilization of Kathmandu valley, called Nepal Mandala or simply Nepal, in the ancient time, is credited to Newar people. According to Nepal's 2001 census, the Newar is Nepal’s sixth largest ethnic group, which represents 5.48 percent of the total population. Nepal Sambat is one among a few calendars native to Nepal, and the only calendar named after the country. According to Nepal Samvat, the year 2011 AD is 1131.

Newar people belong to mostly Tibeto-Burman group, while some are the descendent of Indo-Aryan ethnicities. They are thought to be aborigines of Kathmandu valley, though there is no record to show the record when they began living in Kathmandu.

Nepal Sambat was used throughout Medieval Nepal. In 2007, Nepal government recognized the Nepal Sambat as the national calendar in 2007. Nepal Sambat was started in 880 AD. According to the legend a Newar man named Sankhadhar Sakhwa cleared all debts of local people owing to the state, and to commemorate his altruism, a new calendar, based on lunar months, was started.

The New Year in Nepal Sambat begins the day after the Hindu festival of Divali, which was on October 27, in 2011. The founder of the Nepal Samvat, Sankhadhar Sakhwa is a national hero in Nepal. His calendar has been mentioned in the documents of Tibet, China, and northern India.

Hijri: The Islamic New Year

Samashuddin, the Sultan of Bengal, invaded Kathmandu valley in 1349 AD. He vandalized temples and looted treasures. In about 1490 the first batch of Muslims came in Kathmandu valley as traders and refugees. After the partition of India-Pakistan, and during the War of Independence in Bangladesh, more Muslims from India and Bangladesh came to live in Nepal. Though Nepal did not persecute Muslims, the state policy was hostile until 2006 when the country was announced secular.

The interim constitution of Nepal, 2007, recognizes Muslim community and Muslim calendar. Hijri calendar or Islamic calendar marks the migration of the Prophet Mohammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina.

To determine the exact date of beginning of Hijri, the Nepali Muslim leaders discuss and then chose a date. Nepal government later announces that day as official holiday and advent of New Year. In 2011, November 15 was the beginning of New Muslim Year.

Two Gurung women remains happy after the celebration of Tamu Losar
Two Gurung women remains happy after the celebration of Tamu Losar | Source

Tamu Losar: The New Year of Gurung Community

The Gurungs are the indigenous people of central region of Nepal. They mostly live in North West Nepal, in Mustang, Dolpa, and around the Annapurna mountain range. Gurungs migrated to Nepal in the 6th century from Mongolia. Gurung community is also called Tamu and hence their New Year is called Tamu Losar. Tamu Losar falls in the last week of December or first week of January. The New Year of Gurung community in 2011 begins in 30th December.

Gurung language is a member of the Tibetan languages and they consist of 2.39 percent of the Nepali population. In early times Gurungs practiced Bon, also called shamanism, and later converted to Tibetan Buddhism. However, today there are many Gurungs in Nepal who also practice Hindu religion. Cultural practice in Gurung community is largely shamanistic. Their religious rituals include animal sacrifice, venerating dead ancestors and nature worship.

Gurungs are brave people. Most of their youths join Nepal Army and Nepal Police. They, along with Magar people, are also famous as Ghurkha soldiers. Ghurkha Regiment is a part of Indian and British Army.


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    • profile image

      Siok Pagane 4 years ago

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    • davidwhoward profile image

      davidwhoward 5 years ago from Indiana

      That was a great article. Laid out well, and full of good information. Thanks for sharing!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @DDE, thanks for reading and commenting.

      @starstream, I agree with your point of view. Thanks for sharing your thought.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 5 years ago from Northern California

      It is important in all cultures to celebrate the new year even if the exact dates differ. We all need a fresh start and inspiration. Thanks for sharing the history.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An insightful Hub, thanks for sharing this information, voted up!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hi Girish,

      Sometimes these new near celebrations frustrate me.

      Have a wonderful 2013.


    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      This is very interesting hub, A very happy new year 2013 Vinaya, God bless.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hi GoingOnline,

      Nepal is culturally rich, it is melting pot of different races and religion.

      Thanks for your comment.


    • GoingOnline profile image

      GoingOnline 5 years ago

      Clever, 9 chances of celebrating instead of just one... and 8 more chances to welcome a new year if you hadn't been available for one of them. Great hub, made me want to organize a holiday and learn more about the country!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hi Deborah,

      I'm glad that you like my hubs on my homeland.

      Thanks for always appreciating my works.


    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love these hubs that you write on Nepal.. it looks so interesting and fantastic.. I would love to visit..I do ,love to travel.. thank you for sharing


    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Peggy, I had written this as newspaper article. But the editor wanted to trim to suit the space. I did not compromise. Thanks for reading closely and leaving a wonderful feedback.

      Have a great weekend.


    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Vinaya,

      I learned so much by reading this professionally written hub of yours. I'm so glad that you published this on HubPages instead of in the newspaper because to have cut out any of this subject material would have been a shame. Nepal has many different people and customs as does the United States. Thanks for sharing the information about all of these New Year celebrations and the different calendars with us. Many up votes + tweeting and sharing to HP followers. In the upcoming weeks, enjoy your New Year's celebration!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hi acaetnna, Nepal will be celebrating yet another New Year in few weeks time. Thanks for reading and appreciating my work.


    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 5 years ago from Guildford

      I found this hub totally fascinating and learned a great deal. I am always so interested in learning about other cultures. Voting up and ticking the appropriate boxes too.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hi Girish, thanks for reading and leaving positive feedback.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Wonderful share about Nepal, culture, various traditions and various celebrations, an awesome hub, voted up.

    • profile image

      Rodman 5 years ago

      So happy to be part of the readers, once told by my Nepali girlfriend, Kalpana that her country has different new year and thank you for making it more elaborate.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      @Sonny, thanks for coming back.

      @Angel, thanks for your generous comment.


    • Angelme566 profile image

      Angelme566 5 years ago

      Nepal indeed is so rich in culture and tradition. A very great hub..Voted UP and shared

    • Sonny Ellar profile image

      Sonny Ellar 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

      you are welcome! the pleasure is mine Vinaya!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Hi Sonny, lots of Nepalis go to the Middle east to work as migrant workers. Thanks for reading and leaving a nice comment.


    • Sonny Ellar profile image

      Sonny Ellar 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

      informative and very interesting! I would love to see Nepal someday. I have a few Nepali friends with whom I have previously worked with here in the middle east and I love listening to their stories very fascinating just like your hub here.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Dear Angel, thanks for always being around.


    • Angelme566 profile image

      Angelme566 6 years ago

      How beautiful is your country , so very rich in culture..and you have narrated it so well like you are a historian .

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Dear Christy,

      Regular days have begun in Nepal.

      Thanks for wishing me.


    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Happy New Year Vinaya! Great information combined with your own photos here!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I am so happy that you are sharing this fascinating information again, Vinaya, as I had missed it when you first published. I have and continue to learn so much about your beautiful culture and practices through your writing and photography.

      Voted UP & UABI-- thank you and Happy New Year!

      Hugs, Maria

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      I recommend these wonderful hub authors to the hub community.

      Happy New Year.

      Thank you very much for your wonderful comments.


    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 6 years ago from Finland

      Nepal seems to be a very interesting country. I really learned something by reading this hub. And you really have many New Years and many communities. Great hub!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Happy New Year tomorrow! That's a lot of New Year parties!

    • profile image

      Jenny 6 years ago

      New Year is coming in Nepal. I wish you a very Happy New Year.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Hello lesleypaulvj,

      thanks for stopping by. I'm happy that you enjoyed my working.


    • lesleypaulvj profile image

      lesleypaulvj 6 years ago from Trivandrum, India

      Hi, its interesting to know about the new years celebrated in Nepal and the festivities surrounding it. Also very good information regarding the culture and tradition of Nepal. Wonderful!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Hello LoveDoctor, thanks for leaving comments here, there, everywhere.

      Take care

    • profile image

      LoveDoctorLove 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading and learning more about your culture and traditions. keep up the good work.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      alocsin, welcome to Nepal. We just celebrated a New year two days ago. In April we will celebrate another New Year.

      Thanks for your comments.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Maybe I should move over there and join all that celebrating. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Maya, I'm delighted that you found me.

    • profile image

      maya 6 years ago

      I found this article when I was doing a search on Nepal. This is good article.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Millionaire, thanks for reading and leaving appreciative comment.

      Have a wonderful 2012.


    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      This is very interesting - there are a lot more New Year's than I knew about. Happy New Year to you.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Frank, thank you very much!

      Happy New year

      2:05 AM Kathmandu

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 6 years ago from Shelton

      I guess I am never to old to learn something and of your culture and homeleand.. brilliant my friend :)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Thank you very much. I Love to listen to U2.

      happy New Year!

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      A song for you! Happy New Year!!!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Dear Jenu

      I just returned from a New Year's Eve party. Our society is very tolerant. We love to celebrate every holidays. We are celebrating Gregorian calendar, and we will also be celebration the calendars, and New Years as well.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 6 years ago

      Wonderful culture history Vinaya. Your unique style of writing always keeps me intrigued with all your subject material. I guess this year is a time of celebration or many celebrations in your woods.

      Now with all the different types does everyone celebrate each or just for that particular group?

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal


      Thank you very much. I had actually written this hub as newspaper article. The editor told me to restrict word limit to 900 words, I did not agree, and published on hubpages.

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      When you posted a comment in one of my Hubs that there were nine New Year celebrations in Nepal, I knew that statement was an article in the making. Thanks, once again, for sharing Nepali history, culture, and celebrations with us.

      Great Hub!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      Hello Sueswan

      I wish you mother Happy Birthday (and of course Happy New year)

      Thanks for reading and leaving a wonderful comment.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 6 years ago

      Hi Vinaya

      It was very interesting to read about the different cultures in Nepal and their New Year celebrations.

      My mother will celebrate her 80th birthday on February 24, 2012. I will have to tell her that it is also Galbo Losar the New Year of Sherpas in Nepal.

      Voted up and away

      Happy New Year!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 6 years ago from Nepal

      @snakeslane, most of the time you are the first to comment on my hub. I'm blessed with a reader like. Thank you very much for appreciating article and pictures, my fellow writer/poet and a wonderful friend.

      @rochej, thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      @Audrey, thanks for sharing information about your culture.

      @tammyswallow, yes hubpages has given us this opportunity, we get to read writers from different parts of the globe. Thanks for your comment.

      @Flora, you teach me (your poetry styles) and I teach you mine (culture and country) Smile!

      @radha, though I have not been to the US, I believe it is multi cultural country. I'm amazed by its level of tolerance. You printed my article to read in detail, that's so nice of you.

      @always exploring, the practice of animal sacrifice is one of the most contentious issue in Nepal. Thanks for leaving a wonderful comment.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I am so pleased that you are writing about your homeland. I love to learn about other cultures. The picture of the animal sacrifice was difficult for me. Thank you Vinaya, very educational hub...

    • profile image

      radhapriestess 6 years ago

      Very interesting to hear about all the new years in Nepal. I think the US probably has quite a few of them, too, considering we are a nation of immigrants. Chinese New Year, Jewish and Hindu New Year are the ones I am most familiar with along with the Gregorian calendar. I had to print the article out, so I can read it more in detail.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Thanks for teaching us about the various calenders and all their new year days.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina


      This is a fascinating hub. I like the fact that hub pages is international because I learn so much about foreign cultures and places I never knew about. I didn't know about this calendar. Very impressive!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 6 years ago from California

      Happy New Year !! I grew up in a Russian Orthodox community and their calendar is a bit different as well--so we had two Christmases and two Easters--great hub!

    • rochelj profile image

      rochelj 6 years ago from USA

      It must be fun to have so many New Years to celebrate!

      This is very interesting.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 6 years ago from Canada

      Happy New Year(s) Vinaya Ghimire! Great photo gallery and interesting history of culture and demographics of Nepal. I love the opening photo, the double exposure of car and green foilage background with the white papery 'flags' looks really cool. The bloody lamb sacrifice image is intense. Regards, snakeslane


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