Hindu Calendar 2006

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Courtesy and Copyright SIDH (The Society for Integrated Development of the Himalayas)

In the traditional Hindu calendar, the breaks were observed on pratipada (first day of the waxing and waning phase of the moon) and ashtami (eighth day of waxing and waning phase). The main divisions of the year were: season, month, half-month (paksha), day-night and sunrise. However, an alien system (Gregorian) was imposed upon the entire country during the colonial rule. The concept of Sunday as a day of rest is just one example. When the British came to the subcontinent, observance of Sunday as a day of rest was limited to Europeans – Indians worked all seven days. However, in 1842 the Governor of Bombay Sir George Arthur ordered that no government work was to be done either by Indians or Europeans on a Sunday and that future government contracts with outside tenderers were to specify this. As a result, we overtly subscribe to one set of politically correct assumptions that dominate the world today, but these are constantly belied by the reality of our everyday experience. Even though we would now feel quite lost without the Gregorian calendar, many people still think that the weather turns cold only after Diwali (amavasya or the new moon in the month of  Kartik) and warm weather only beings after Holi (Poornima or the full moon in Phalgun).

After independence, the government created an Indian civil calendar based on the Shaka samvat in an attempt to have a unified calendar for the country incorporating elements of the traditional calendar and the Gregorian calendar. However, this has done little to limit the loss of knowledge about the traditional calendars, as it has not become popular with our people who continue to follow the traditional system in their region.

We need to acknowledge as well as appreciate the strengths of our society and understand the premises upon which it functions. In order to do this we need be more informed. We are making a small beginning by taking a fresh look at the complexities of the Hindu calendar- the oldest calendar in the entire world (it is 1,9455,885,107 years old). This planner is an attempt to understand the traditional way we perceive the world and the cosmos, even though over the past few centuries we may have been alienated from our original nature. However, this alienation is not yet complete and so we seem to be living in two different worlds - one which was our own and one that is an imposition.

We hope this planner will helps become better acquainted with the traditional component of our world. However, we recognize our dependence on the January to December cycle, and for this reason, have made this planner span a period of 15 months to cover both the Hindu and Gregorian year. We have also included information about our country that has never been taught to us, with the hope it will help reconnect us with ourselves. We can respect other only after we accept and respect ourselves. When we see that in reality there are no opposites only differences; no competition only complementarity; only then can we truly participate in creating a harmonious world where we can mutually enrich one another.

Organization of the Hindu calendar      
The Hindu calendar is a combined lunar and solar calendar as is based on the position of both sun and moon. When referring to the lunar cycle we refer to tithi and paksha, but when referring to the solar cycle we talk in terms of sankranti and gate. Festivals and other religious occasions are based both on the solar and the lunar cycles. For example some of the sankrantis (corresponding to the solar calendar) like the Mesh Sankranti (more popularly known as Baishaki), Kark Sankranti, etc. are very important and celebrated throughout the country, white on the other hand important festivals like Basant Panchami, Mahashivratri, Holi, Diwali, Janmashtami, Ramnavami, etc. are determined by the lunar calendar.

The names of the months like Chaitra, Baishaka, etc. are the same in both the lunar and solar cycles. These two cycles cannot be separated and seen in isolation. However, it should also be remembered that thes two cycles are not in step. This creates a slight difficulty for those unacquainted with the Hindu calendar as demonstrated by the following example. In 2006, Baishaki falls on April 14th. According to the solar calendar it is the first day (or sankranti) of the month of Vaishakh, but according to the lunar cycle it is Chaitra Shukla Dwadashi (or the twelfth day of the bright half/waxing phase of the month of Chaitra). So it can be seen that according to the lunar cycle it is the month of Chaitra, but according to the solar cycle the month of Baishaka has started.

Solar Cycle
A solar month is the time it takes the sun to travel through a zodiac sign (rashi). The entry of the sun in a rashi is celebrated as sankrant and is also the start of the solar month. Thus there are twelve sankrants in a year. For example, the month of Baishaka begins when the sun enters the zodiac sign Aries.

A solar year has two ayana (halves) of six months each, solar month is further divided in to 30 or 31 gate (days). The northern declination of the sun when it appears to move between the constellation Capricorn and Gemini is called Uttarayan. This corresponds to the movement of the sun from the Tropic of Capricorn northwards towards the Tropic of Cancer. Uttarayan starts on the day of Makar Sankranti. The southern declination of the sun when it appears to move between the constellations Cancer and Sagittarus is called Dakshinayan. This corresponds to the movement of the sun from the Tropic of Cancer southwards towards the Tropic of Capricorn. Dakshinayan starts on the day of  Kark Sankranti. The solar year beings with the entrance of the sun into Mesha (Aries) or Makara which is around 14/15 of January.

Sankranti Thiti Gregorian date
Makara Sankranti Pausha Shukla Purnima January 14, 2006
Kumbha Sankranti Magh Shukla Chaturdashi February 12, 2006
Meena Sankranti Phalgun Shukla Purnima March 14, 2006
Mesha Sankranti Vaishakha Krishna Pratipada April 14. 2006
Vrasha Sankranti Jyeshtha Krishna Pratipada May 14, 2006
Mithuna Sankranti Ashadh Krishna Chaturthi June 15, 2006
Karka Sankranti Shravana Krishna Saptami July 17, 2006
Singha Sankranti Bhadrapad Krishna Navmi August 1, 2006
Kanya Sankranti Ashwin Krishna Dashmi September 17, 2006
Tula Sankranti Kartik Krishna Dwadashi October 18, 2006
Vrashchika Sankranti Margshisha Krishna Ekadashi November 16, 2006
Dhanu Sankranti Paush Krishna Ekadashi December 16, 2006
Makara Sankranti Magh Krishna Dashmi January 14, 2007
Kumbha Sankranti Phalgun Krishna Dashmi February 12, 2007
Meena Sankranti Chaitra Krishna Dashmi March 14, 2007

Lunar Cycle
The lunar month (masa) consists of 30 tithis (days) which can begin at any time of the solar day, but for practical purposes they are considered to commences at sunrise and last through the whole solar day. the tithes are grouped into pakshas with 14-15 days each. The Krishna Paksha is the dark half or waning phase, from purnima to amavasya, and the Shukla Paksha is the bright half or waxing phase, from amavasya  to purnima. In North India, the lunar month starts on the first day of the Krishna Paksha (Krishna Paksh Pratipada) and the last day of the month is the day of purnima. In Bengal, Maharashtra and South India, the amanta system is used, in which the lunar month instead starts on the first day of Shukla Paksha (Shukla Paksha Pratipada) and ends on the day of amavasya. Each masa is named after the naksatra in which the full moon occurs in each successive month. They are as follows:

Month Naksatra
Chaitra (March-April) Chitta
Vaishaka (April-May) Vishaka
Jyeshtha (May-June) Jyeshtha
Ashadh (Jne-July) Poorvashadha
Shravan (July-August) Shravan
Bhadrapada (August-Sept) Purvbhadra
Ashwin (Sept-Oct) Ashwini
Kartik (Oct-Nov) Krittika
Margshish (Nov-Doc) Mrigashira
Paush (Dec-Jan) Pushya
Magh (Jan-Feb) Magh
Phalgna (Feb-March) Uttara

In South India the months are named after the constellations in which the sun is moving at that time.

Adhika Masa and Kshaya Masa
In order to reconcile the lunar and solar years, an ingenious system was devised. It was ordained that any month in which the sun did not enter a new sign of zodiac would not count and would be followed by another month of the some name. Thus in the lunar month of Chaitra the sun must enter the sign of Mesha (Aries). If it does not, there will be an intercalary Chaitra followed by the proper month of the some name during which the sun does enter Mesha. These intercalary months occur approximately once in three years. By this reckoning, the twelve lunar months are adjusted to the solar year.

There is a possibility that two Sankrantis may occasionally occur in the same lunar month. When this happens, the month to which the second Sankranti properly belongs, is called Kshaya or eliminated month. Eliminated months occur at intervals varying from 19 to 141 years. Intercalary months occur generally seven times in a cycle of 19 years.

The Hindu new year or samvatsar starts on the day of Chitra Shukla Pratipada (the first day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra). But the new year is celebrated on different days in different part of country. Some regions and communities start their new year on KartikShukla Pratipada (the first day of the bright half of the month of kartik). This would be the time of Diwali. In Bengal and Punjab the new year starts on the day of Mesh Sankrant (popularly known as Baisakhi), while the Tamil New Year called Pongal falls on the day after Baishakhi (i.e. 15 April).

There are many calendars in India. There are over 30 samvatsars (eras) that have been used in different parts of the country at different times? The Vikram samvat is most widely used today, although the Hijri samvat (used by Muslims), Bangla Samvat, Kali samvat, Kolam samvat, Yazdejardi samvat, Buddha Nirvana samvat, and Mahavir Nirvana samvat continue to be used by some. There is a lot of similarity between different calendar. Festivals are celebrated on the same day with different names in the different parts of India according to different calendar. As per the traditional Hindu calendar each samvatsar (year) is given a specific name and they recur in cycles of sixty years. The names are as follows:
Prabhava, Vibhava, Shukla, Prajapati, Angirasa, Srimukha, Bhava, Yuva, Dhatu, Iswara, Bahudhanya, Pramadi, Vikrama, Vishnu, Chitrabhanu, Swabhanu, Tharana, Parthiva, Vyaya, Sarvajitu, Sarvadhary, Virodhi, Vikriti, Khara, Nandana, Vijay, Jaya, Manmatha, Durmukh, Hevilambi, Vilambi, Vikari, Sharvari, Plava, Shubhakritu, Krodhi, Viswavasu, Parabhava, Plavanga, keelaka, Saumya, Sadharana, Virodhikritu, Paridhavi, Pramadicha, Ananda, Rakshasa, Nala, Pingala, Kalayukti, Siddharti, Roudri, Dhurmathi, Dundbhi, Rudhirodghari, Rakthakshi, Krodana, Akshaya,

This year (Vikram Era 2063 or Christian Era 2006-2007) is Vikari and the next year (Vikram Era 2064 or Christian Era 2007-2008) is named Sharvari.
The complete cycle of one year was traditionally divided into six ritus (seasons) as follows:

Season Months
Vasant (Spring) Chaitra and Vaishaka (March-May)
Greesham ( Summer ) Jyashtha and Ashadh (May-July)
Varsha (Rain) Shravan and Bhadrapad (July-Sept)
Sharad (Autumn) Ashwin and kartik (Sept-Nov)
Hemant (Winter) Margshish and Paush (Nov-Jan)
Shishira (Early Spring) Magh and Phalgun (Jan-March)

Panchang (Almanac)
In India the panchang is used for reckoning time and thus regulating the social and cultural life of the people. Panchang means having five limbs. A panchang is so named because it gives information regarding the five basic divisions of time. These are the :
(a) Thiti (phase of the moon)
(b) Vaar (day)
(c) Nakshatra (star or constellation through which the moon is passing)
(d) Yoga (total distance traversed by the sun and moon from any specific point)
(e) Karana (half a thithi)

In additional, the panchang also gives tables for the correction of the time of sunrise at different longitudes, the time taken by the sun to traverse each rashi (zodiac sign) and the moon to traverse each nakshatra, the positions of the sun, moon and other planets, time of sunrise/sunset, auspicious day, date, time for various rituals, etc.

Panchangs are used at two levels: (a) in the house and (b) professionally b pundits. At the household level panchangs are used for checking when to keep fasts, auspicious time for starting puja etc. The pundits use it for casting horoscopes, deciding auspicious dates and time for major events like marriages, moving into a new house, etc. 

The Hindu Concept of Time
The Hindu concept of time is extremely vast and divided into yugas and mahayugas. They are calculated as follows:

 One human year represents one for the divine.
 360 divine days make one divine year
 12,000 divine year makes one mahayuga.

One mahayuga is divided into 4 yugas, which are called: Krita, Treta, dwapar and Kali

In terms of human years:
Kali Yuga  = 432,000 year
Dwapar Yuga  = 864,000 year (dwa means twice)
Treta Yuga  = 1,296,000 year (tre means trice)
Krita Yuga  = 1,728,000 year (4 times Kali Yuga)

Hence one complete mahayuga is equal to 4,320, 000, (4.32 million) human years.
The following are considered the ruling gods in each of the four yugas:
Krita Yuga  Sri Ranganatha
Treat Yuga  Sri Rama
Dwapar Yuga  Sri Krishna
Kali Yuga  Sri Srinivasa

Seventy-two mahayugas constitute one manvantara (i.e., the life of Manu) and fourteen such manvantaras make one day (kalpa) of Brahma. This works out to 4.35 billion human years (72 x 14 x 4.32 million).

Param and Para Ardham

Brahma’s whole day is 8.70 billion human years (1 day of 4.35 billion human years + 1 night of 4.35 billion human years). Thirty such days make one month for Brahma (i.e. 8.70 x 30 = 261 billion human years) and 12 months make one year. Brahma is supposed to live for 100 such years which works out to 313.2 trillion human years. This is called Param and half of it is Para Ardham.

The Span of Time

Time, or kala in Hindu philosophy, is considered in three ways/ranges. The first is cosmic or epochal time determined in terms of the life span of Brahma. The second range is Panchang time, measured in units of days and months used in determining the seasons etc. the last is homological time for measuring the duration of the day and is determined by lesser units.

Each unit of time in all three ranges is believed to have two wings and to be made up of a day and night separated by twilight periods. A unit is, therefore, made up of dawn (usha), twilight (sandhya) and night.

• The truti (particle) is the smallest unit of duration. In modern it ranges anywhere between one ten thousand millionth of a second to one kshana (moment).
• The kshna (moment) loosely ranges from 2/45th of a second to about four seconds.
• The nimesha/mimisha (blink or twinkling of an eye), strictly the time taken for the  upward or downward movement of the eyelid, is equal to four kshans.
• The lava (fraction) is the duration of a completed blink (i.e., the time taken to shut and open the eyes in the act of blinking) is equal to 8 kshnas.
• The vipala (fleeting) is the duration of  four and a half nimishas or about two and a half complete blinks.
• The tata (handclap) is the time taken to bring the hands together in the act of clapping. It ranges from one quarter to three quarters of a second. It is extremely elastic unit.
• The anu-druta (half druta) is equal to one and a quarter viplas or half a second.
• A druta is the duration of two anu-druta.
• The laghu is the duration of a handclap and two or more finger counts. A finger count consists of the thumb touching the tips of the fingers in turn. It equals two drutas, one and a half kahthas or about two seconds.

Auspicious and Inauspicious Periods
Life cycle rituals are mostly performed during auspicious period. According to Hindu mythology, the following periods are regarded as auspicious:

1. Uttarayana, the six month period between Pashu and Ashadha (winter to summer solstice) is regarded as the day of the gods. The Mahabharata related that the Bhishma, mortally wounded during the inauspicious dakshinayana deliherately willed to live until the sun had turned northward beginning uttarayana, so that he would die at an auspicious moment.
2. The month of Vaisakha which is especially sacred and devoted to Krishna.
3. The Sankranti, when the sun enters into an new zodiacal sign each month. The Makara Sanikranti (winter solstice) is regarded as auspicious and is celebrated as a popular festival throughout India. The Mesha Sankranti (vernal equinox) is also widely celebrated.
4. The time of Dussera, Dipavali and Nag Panchami festivals.

The inauspicious times are:

1. Dakshinayana, the southward progress of the sun from the summer to the winter solstice (i.e. from Ashodha to Pausha). This represents the night of the gods and the time when the spirits of the dead are awake.
2. Chaturmasa (four months during rainy season) which falls between Ashadh Shukla Ekadashi and Kartika Shukla Ekadashi. During these four months the monks (Jain, Hindu and Budhist) stay in one place and normally no important events are performed or new ventures started.
3.  It is said that the Saga Agastya left for this mission in the south at the beginning of a certain month and never r. For this reason, the first day of the month is inauspicious for starting a journey.