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Vikram Samvat (Vikram Samwat, Vikram Sambt, Bikram Samvat, Bikram Samwat, Bikram Sambat or Vikram's Era) (Devanagari:विक्रम सम्वत्) (abbreviated as V.S. or B.S.) Listen (help·info) is the calendar established by emperor Vikramaditya. It uses lunar months and solar sidereal year. It is the official calendar of Nepal, also termed Bikram Sambat, but is computed using the tropical year.
The Vikrama Samvat is said to have been founded by the emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain following his victory over the Sakas in 56 BC, although it is popularly (and incorrectly) associated with the subsequent king Chandragupta Vikramaditya. It is a lunar calendar based on ancient Hindu tradition (see Hindu calendar and Vedic time keeping). The Vikram Samvat calendar is 56.7 years ahead (in count) of the solar Gregorian calendar. For example, the year 2056 BS began in AD 1999 and ended in AD 2000. The new year begins with the first day after the new moon, in the month of Chaitra, Chaitra Shuddha 1 or Chaitra Shukla Paksha Prathama; which usually falls in March–April in the Gregorian calendar. The nine-day Navaratri festival season begins on this day, culminating on Ram Navami day. In Nepal, it begins in mid-April and marks the start of the solar new year.
In India, the reformulated Saka Calendar is officially used, although in the Hindi version of Preamble of The Constitution of India, the date of adoption of constitution 26 Nov 1949 is presented in Vikram Samvat (Margsheersh Shukla Saptami Samvat 2006). There have been calls for Vikram Samvat to replace Saka as India's official calendar.
Hindi & Nepali
This calendar derives its name from the original Rajput king Vikramaditya of Ujjain of Paramara dynasty. After the rise of the Rana oligarchs in Nepal, Vikram Sambat came into unofficial use along with the official Shaka Sambat for quite some time. They discontinued Shaka Sambat in its 1823rd year, and replaced it with Vikram Samwat for official use since then to date. Vikram Sambat came into official use in its 1958th year. The calendar is widely in use in western India, where it is known as the Vikram Samvat.
The date is supposed to mark the victory of king Vikramaditya over the Sakas, who had invaded Ujjain. Alternatively, it has been thought by some scholars to correspond to the Azes era, of the Indo-Scythian king Azes I, but this seems to be now thoroughly discredited by Falk and Bennett who place the inception of the Azes era in 47/6 BC.
The story is described in "Kalakacharya Kathanaka", a much later work by a Jain sage called Mahesara Suri (probably circa 12th century CE). The Kathanaka (meaning, "an account") tells the story of a famed Jain monk Kalakacharya. It mentions that gandharvasen, the then-powerful king of Ujjain, abducted a nun called Sarasvati who was the sister of the monk. The enraged monk sought the help of the Saka ruler, a Sahi, in Sakasthana. Despite heavy odds (but aided by miracles) the Saka king defeated gandharvasen and made him a captive. Sarasvati was repatriated, although gandharvasen himself was forgiven. The defeated king retired to the forest, where he was killed by a tiger. His son, Vikramaditya, being brought up in the forest, had to rule from Pratishthana (in modern Maharashtra). Later on, Vikramaditya invaded Ujjain and drove away the Sakas. To commemorate this event, he started a new era called the Vikrama era. This story seems to be somewhat jumbled, as the original Vikramaditya began his rule from Ujjain, and not from Pratishthana. The Ujjain calendar started around 56 BCE to 58 BCE, and the subsequent Shalivahan Saka calendar was started in 78 AD at Pratishthan.
The traditional New Year of Bikram Samwat is one of the many festivals of Nepal, marked by parties, family gatherings, the exchange of good wishes, and participation in rituals to ensure good fortune in the coming year. It occurs in mid-April each year, and coincides with the traditional new year in Assam, Bengal, Burma, Cambodia, Kerala, Kashmir, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab, Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu and Thailand.
In addition to Nepal, the Vikram Samvat calendar is also recognized in northern India, eastern India, and in Gujarat among Hindus. In Buddhist communities, the month of Baishakh is associated with Vesak, known as Visakah Puja or Buddha Purnima in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, Visakha Bucha in Thailand, Waisak in Indonesia and Wesak in Sri Lanka and Malaysia. It commemorates the birth, Enlightenment and passing of Gautama Buddha on the first full moon day in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June. Although this festival is not held on the same day as Pahela Baishakh, the holidays typically fall in the same month (Baishakh) of the Bengali, Hindu, and Theravada Buddhist calendars, and are related historically through the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism in South Asia.
- The Encyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia by Edward Balfour, B. Quaritch 1885, p.502.
- "Vikram Samvat should be declared national calendar". The Free Press Journal. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2012.
- Falk and Bennett (2009), pp. 197-215.
- Nepali Calendar
- Official Nepali Calendar
- Harry Falk and Chris Bennett (2009). �Macedonian Intercalary Months and the Era of Azes.� Acta Orientalia 70, pp. 197–215.
- "The Dynastic Art of the Kushan", John Rosenfield.
- Nepali Calendar