Sankhadhar Sākhwā (Nepal Bhasa: शंखधर साख्वा:) (also spelt Sankhadhar Sākhwāl) was a Nepalese philanthropist who cleared the debts of all the people in Nepal and started a new era on that date. 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 Shankhadhar freed the people of Kathmandu from their debts during the region of Raghav Dev 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 Lakha Tritha a small river near the Bishnumati river.
Sankhadhar Sakhwa, who lived somewhere near Maru of Kathmandu 1133 years ago. Once he saw that a couple of labourers were carrying some sack-full of sand from the nearby Bishnumati River 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 to liberate the people from the burden of debt, marking the beginning of a new era and new calendar in Nepal.
Historians have evidences that it was used not only in Nepal 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.
Sakhwa had established his own stone image at the southern gate of Pashupatinath. The stone image still stands today. Sakhwa created a new festival which is still celebrated by the Newars which is known as Mha Puja (worship your own body).
On 26 October 2003, the Department of Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp depicting his portrait.