Nepal ushers in New Year ahead of world


Kathmandu : The new republic of Nepal Tuesday ushered in the New Year ahead of the rest of the world – among the five New Year days observed in the country in a year.

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The Gurungs, an ethnic community living in west Nepal who are known for their valour and form the backbone of the Gorkha regiments in the Indian and British armies, celebrate Dec 30 as the beginning of their New Year.

Tamu Lhosar Tuesday was the beginning of the ethnic year 2065, marked as the year of the cow. Parties began in Nepal and abroad where the Gurung diaspora lives.

Nepal, which became a republic formally this year, declared Tamu Lhosar an official holiday out of deference to its indigenous culture, with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and President Ram Baran Yadav issuing messages of goodwill.

Nepal is probably the only country in the world that enjoys five New Year days in a single calendar year, with three of them declared official holidays.

On Jan 1, the country will once again celebrate the start of 2009 with the rest of the world.

Around February-March, an extra innings will be added to New Year celebrations when it is time for Lhosar, the start of the Tibetan New Year.

In April, there will be yet another ethnic New Year according to the old lunar calendar that Nepal shared with India.

The Bikram Sambat calendar will help Nepal once again zip ahead of the rest of the world as it heralds in the year 2066, going by the calendar that is still used for all official work in Nepal.

Four months later, it will be time for the Newar community, the first residents of Kathmandu valley, to celebrate their New Year, which, according to the Nepal Sambat calendar they use, will be 1130.

Already boasting of the highest number of state holidays, this year Nepal saw still new ones added to the list with Christmas and Eid becoming official holidays.

Next year, there could be some more with a clamour that the death anniversary of Everest hero Sir Edmund Hillary also be declared a national holiday.

This year, Nepal enjoyed 52 state holidays, which included four days’ closure to ensure peaceful elections in April.