Nepal’s calendar has three major differences from the Western one: it is 57 (or, for three months of the year, 56) years ahead of the Western calendar; its months start and finish approximately two weeks out of kilter with their international equivalents; and the New Year officially begins with the month of Baisaakh, in mid-April. This “Bikram Sambat” calendar was established by the legendary Indian emperor Vikramaditya; India long since went over to the European model but Nepal, which resisted colonization, has maintained tradition. Inevitably, there are calls for change. Some want to return to use the “Nepal Sambat” of the Kathmandu Valley’s indigenous Newari people; others prefer to modernize.
The decisions of astrologers, on whom festival dates depend, are notoriously unpredictable, as they are based around the phases of the moon. The common names of the Nepali months are listed below; alternative spellings, sometimes based on classical Sanskrit, are often seen.