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Guiding Light: Reflecting on the Hindu Vedic Calendar

Dr. S. Ainavolu | Updated on: Thursday, March 31, 2022, 11:13 AM IST

Photo Credit: Pixabay
Photo Credit: Pixabay
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Panchang is our traditional calendar. It means five parts: tithi, vara, nakshatra, yoga, and karana. The tithis signify sixteen (shodasha) kalas of the Moon. Amavasya and Purnima are two extremes, and fourteen kalas are in between. Vara is more commonly known; seven weekdays are named after seven grahas (“planets”). Panchanga is based on traditional astronomical knowledge and the calculations inspire awe. Vedanga of Jyotisha (Astrology) also draws from the same knowledge base that existed for thousands of years. There were no observational and computing devices then. Eclipses are an example that proves the accuracy of proposals contained in Panchanga.

Our Panchanga divides the typical year into two, Uttara-ayana and Dakshina-ayana, based on relative northward or southward movement with respect to the Sun. It also gives us six ritus (seasons) and twelve months. Each month is divided into two pakshas, Shukla (waxing moon) and Krishna (waning moon). Moon (Chandra) transit across twelve rashis takes a month. It takes twelve such months for the Sun to complete the transiting of twelve rashis. That makes one full year. Months get completed in many regions with a new moon (Amavasya) and a few others on full moon day (Purnima). Many regions in India follow the Chaitra as the first month in the calendar, a select few consider Vaishakha or even Kartika as the first month. Irrespective of differences, the Vedic calendar contains the same twelve months.

Year is the micro representation of the macro timeline. It is a full cycle and complete with all seasons. Our journey gets realigned at the beginning of the new year. The new year festival is also called Yug-adi! The day may begin with revisiting our awareness about the macro-universe on the need for climate actions by adopting more sustainability measures. At the micro-level, we may study the Panchang - our guide into the unknown timeline called “future!”

(Dr. S. Ainavolu is a Professor at VPSM, Navi Mumbai. Insights and views are personal. Full version of the article can be found at https://www.ainavolu.in/reflecting-on-panchanga)

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Published on: Thursday, March 31, 2022, 11:13 AM IST