Understanding Hindu Calendar or Panchangam
Hindu Calendar or Panchangam is a collective name for the lunar calendars. Since ancient times it has undergone many changes in the process of regionalization and today there are several regional Hindu Calendars.
There are 2 types of Hindu Calendar read more here.
Some of the more prominent regional Hindu Calendars include the Assamese Calendar, Bengali Calendar, Malayalam Calendar, Nepali Calendar, Tamil Calendar, Telugu Calendar, and Kannada Calendar.
An ancient Hindu Vedic Calendar is called as Panchangam/Panchang/Panjika, which refers to Panch(Five)+Angam(Limbs) in Sanskrit.
5 Attributes of Hindu Panchang
Hindu Calendar is based on Muhurtha or Muhurtham, A Hindu muhurtha or muhurtham (moment) can be represented in five attributes of Hindu astronomy.
The five limbs or five attributes of Hindu calendar are Tithi, Vara, Nakshatra, Yoga, Karana.
- Vara / Vasara – The Weekday
- Tithi/Thithi – A Lunar day
- Nakshatra – The Moon’s asterism (in which the moon resides sunrise)
- Yoga – the angular relationship between Sun and Moon
- Karana – Divisions based on Tithis
These attributes mainly depend on the movements of the Sun and the Moon. Traditionally no religious event is performed without consulting panchangam in most of the Hindu families.
A Panchangam is a tabulation form of positions of Sun, Moon, and other planets for every day of the year in a fixed place and time of the day.
Suryasidhantha and Grahalaghava are the two scriptures where theories of Panchanga found.
In Hindu Calendar, there are Twelve Months (each month is divided into 2 Pakshas), Six Seasons (each season consisting of 2 months) in a year. There is also a cycle of 60 Calendar year names called Samvatsaras in Hindu Calendar.
The common feature of all regional Hindu calendars is that the names of the Vara, Tithi, Nakshatra, Yoga, Karana, Month, Paksha, Season (Ruthu) and Years are the same (because the names are based in Sanskrit) though the spelling and pronunciation have come to vary slightly from region to region over thousands of years. The month which starts the year also varies from region to region. The Buddhist calendar and the traditional lunisolar calendars of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand are also based on an older version of the Hindu calendar.
Tithi – Lunar Day
A Lunar Day, Hindu Calendar/Panchangam is a lunar calendar because it depends on Lunar day, just as sunrise and sunset, the moon also rises in the east and sets in the west – the time between one Moonrise to another is called as Lunar day. The Sanskrit meaning of the lunar day is Tithi. There are 30 lunar days in a lunar month and a lunar month divided into 2 parts One is Krishna Paksha, Second is Shukla Paksha. Paksha is a Fortnight or a Lunar Phase. The first fortnight between New Moon Day and Full Moon Day is called Shukla Paksha, the period of Waxing Moon and the second fortnight (Fading Moon/Waning Moon) of the month is called Krishna Paksha. In South India, Lunar Month starts from the first day of Krishna Paksha and in North India, Lunar Month starts from the first day of Shukla Paksha.
|Shukla Paksham||Krishna Paksham|
Nakshatra – Lunar Mansion
Observe the Moon’s position with the background of stars on an evening and in the next evening at the same time and in the same place you will find the Moon’s position has changed towards the east. The region of sky that has been displaced by the moon’s eastward movement in one day called as Lunar Mansion, in Sanskrit Nakshatra.
In Atharvanaveda 28 Nakshatras was mentioned. The Moon travels 360 degrees in a lunar month, the moon displacement in a lunar day is 13 degrees 20 minutes approximately, a division of 27 portions was adopted since that resulted in a cleaner definition of each segment i.e, 13.3 x 27 = ~360. In the process, Abhijith Nakshatra was left out without a portion.
Each Nakshatra is also divided into 4 Padas (Quarters).
Yoga – The Auspicious/Inauspicious Period
The angular relationship between Sun and Moon or the period during the joint motion of the Sun and Moon is yoga.
There are 27 Yogas.
Karana – Half Phase of Tithi
Half part of a Tithi is called a Karana. There are 11 Karanas. The first 7 Karanas are movable, these are called as Chara Karanas. The next 4 Karanas are fixed, these are called as Sthira Karanas.
1.Bala, 2. Baalava, 3. Kaulava, 4. Taitil, 5. Gara, 6. Vanija, 7. Vishti
- Shakuni, 9. Chathushpada, 10. Naaga, 11. Kinsthugna
Vara – Weekday
There are 7 days in a week, each day clearly named after seven of nine grahas (major astrological influences used in Hindu astrology).
|Sunday, The Sun||Ravi Vara|
|Monday, The Moon||Soma Vara|
|Tuesday, Mars||Mangala Vara|
|Wednesday, Mercury||Budha Vara|
|Thursday, Jupiter||Guru Vara|
|Friday, Venus||Shukra Vara|
|Saturday, Saturn||Shani Vara|