Sankhadhar Sakhwa

Sankhadhar Sakhwa is a Nepalese philanthropist. He cleared the debts of all the people in Nepal. A new era was initiated from the date in which he cleared the debts. This new era is called Nepal Sambat. On the basis of the information contained in “Bhasa Bamsali” and “Rajbhogmala Bamsawali“, a low-caste merchant called Shangkhadar freed the people of kathmandu from their debts during the region of Raghav Dav and started a new era called Nepal Era to commemorate it. Sakhwa had collected the wealth through the gold that he panned from the sand of the Bishnumati river.Sakhwa had established his own stone image at the southern gate of Pashupatinath. The stone image is still there. Shangkhadhar Sakha’s name has been included in the list of “National Heroes Of Nepal” by the cadinet decision on November 18, 1999.


Sankhadhar Sakhwaa, who lived somewhere near Maru of Kathmandu 1132 years ago. Once he saw that a couple of labourers were carrying some sack-full of sand from the nearby river of Bishnumati and taking it to Bhaktapur. He understood that it must be extraordinary sand and he instantly bought the sand. The next day, the man found that all the sand in his basement had turned into real gold.Instead of consuming it, he used the miraculous property in liberating the people from the burden of debt and thus he launched another calendar of his own. He did not use his name for this but made it “Nepal Era” which is still in use.There could be some debate on the authenticity of the legend but what we cannot ignore that a unique and truly Nepali calendar was launched 1126 years ago. Taking his contribution to the nation, the government also has recognized Sakhwaa as a national luminary.And the calendar has been in use since then till today. Till a Rana prime minister declared Bikram Era as the official calendar some 101 years ago, it was the official calendar for around one thousand years. Historians have evidences that it was used not only in Nepali but also in Tibet and India too, in some cases. Since it follows the lunar system, it is the window for Nepalis to determine cultural events, including the Tihar itself. The day of Mhapuja, the fourth day, is the most colourful day in the valley as tens of thousands of people gather at Basantapur and other city centres to exchange good-wishes among friends, organizations and even political parties. 


A Newar organization named ‘Newaa Mahaguthi, Nepaa’ constituted a committee named ‘Sankhadhar Sakhwa Research Management Committee’ to commission the historians, archeologists and intellectuals to initiate research work on the life of Shankhadhar Sakhwa. The Committee then invited proposals in various newspapers and journals with provisions for attractive prizes and remunerations for outstanding research reports.The New Year is celebrated in extravagant ways – in cultural milieu, rock and roll concerts, motorcycle rally, candle walk, publication of books and musical albums, decoration of localities with New Year greetings and so on. The mass cultural rally is the centre of attraction for some 26 years. They march along the path, in traditional costumes, with traditional drums and altruistic hearts.


Since then, various places and institutions in Nepal have been named after Shankhadhar Sakhwa, such as street names, cooperative and financial institutions, statues, parks, postage stamps etc. Such practices truly reflect the recognition of Shankhadhar Sakhwa’s contributions to the welfare of Nepalese society. The Newar community in particular has also been very active in organizing rallies and processions with the slogan ‘Nepal Samvat, a National Samvat’ on the occasion of every New Year Day. This publicity will serve to make the ruling government realize the need to recognize and implement Nepal Samvat as the official calendar of the country.

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