Connecting Dots

Happy New Year

Published On: December 31, 2016 12:25 AM NPT By: Dinkar Nepal

In Nepal we have two functional calendars and that always creates a lot of confusion
It’s a happy coincidence that the New Year Eve is a Saturday. 

I was in that New Year mood since the beginning of December, thinking about putting up a list of sixteen best books of last year, or even listing seventeen things that I will do the coming year. It’s time to talk about new plans, and new resolutions. It’s time to reflect back on things—life, aims, plans, goals and methods. And it’s also a time to change course or decide on priorities. 

But a day before Christmas, our government did an unbelievable thing. First, they waited till the last moment to decide whether it is a public holiday in Nepal or not, and then, the date for Christmas holiday was published as 10th of December in the announcement letter. 

Yes. It may sound crazy, or lazy, but that actually happened. 

I then decided that I will lambast them in my next column, for two reasons. One, they showed utter political negligence by taking this decision at the eleventh hour. And two, they embarrassed us. 

But then, two days after that incident, I met a friend who had this strange problem with his birthdates in the passport, driving license and the citizenship card. The dates are different. 

This problem, created by conversion from the Vikram Sambat to the Georgian calendar, is nothing new to us. Almost all of us have grown with this. My father applied some unique formula in converting the dates when he took us from Nepal to get enrolled in a school in Dehradun, in grade seven, and his calculation made a difference of two months. I don’t at all regret becoming younger in my documents, but it is a recurring problem. 

Let me talk about another random incident, and then we can connect the dots. While talking about the Pokhara Street Festival, which is organized every year during New Year’s time at Lakeside, another friend put forward an emotional quandary:  ‘Why should we celebrate their new year? We should have this festival during Baisakh.’

It wasn’t a difficult question at all, and that’s why I termed it as just an emotional quandary. The targets of the street festival are the foreign, mainly western, tourists.  And the festival has to be organized at this time because it is the holiday season in the west. That’s simple and logical. But even though it looks voluntary, it’s an inevitable cultural imposition. 

We are not the only people dealing with this discomfort. This evident outreach and inevitable influence, has made many people in non-western countries campaign aggressively against symbolic things like celebrating Christmas in China or Valentine’s Day in India. They see it as an existential threat. Or at least project it as such for political reasons. 

A Chinese College located in Xian has banned Christmas celebrations, choosing instead to have students attend screenings of propaganda films about Confucius on Christmas Eve. According to a Reuters report, banners were draped outside the university with slogans that read: “Strive to be outstanding sons and daughters of China, oppose kitsch Western holidays,” and “Resist the expansion of Western culture.” 

But despite this aggression—and that’s the biggest irony—China manufactures 60 percent of the world’s Christmas decorations.

It’s clear. Neither is it a new thing, nor is it only our problem. Globalization is inescapable. And in today’s definition of globalization, a skewed representation in favor of the west is inevitable. This has made some people interpret globalization as imposition of western culture and western ideas into our way of life.  Some have even called it neo-imperialism. But as much as one is free to call a spade a spoon, it can’t be avoided or escaped. 

For example, in Nepal we have two functional calendars and that creates a lot of confusion, always.

But we can’t escape it. We have to deal in the Georgian Calendar to deal with foreigners. But locally, our own Vikram Sambat is strongly followed. This phenomenon, the confusion of translations, occurs in every field.

When I tried to see things from this angle, I suddenly saw the embarrassing thing done by the government as a mere innocent typo. So there is no question of the lambast that you were expecting here. 

But to save myself from being apologetic, I will end with one suggestion to the person who signed that letter announcing the Christmas Holiday—as a New Year resolution, please make it a habit to read the documents that you sign. It will save you from many troubles and us from future embarrassments. 

As far as the resolutions are concerned, to generate some ideas, I asked a dear friend about her resolutions and she said—she wants to be happier. That was convincing enough. Let’s try to do the same in our own way—let’s resolve to be happier this year.  

Happy New Year!


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