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The Hindu Calendar
By Mohan Shenoy

The Hindu Calendar, explaining Yuga, Samvatsara, Rithu, Maasa, Vaara and Tithi.

        The Hindu calendar is based on the movements of the moon. There are many publishing houses that offer for sale the Hindu calendar every year in different languages including English. A complete Hindu Calendar is known as the Panchaanga.
      The common calendar belongs to Europe and North America and its use began more recently than the Hindu calendar.However, India has yielded to the appeal of the world community to use the common calendar and also use the Indian National Calendar side-by-side. The Indian National calendar is based on the Shalivahana Shaka system.Hindus believe that the lifetime of the present universe, called the Kalpa, can be divided into many 'period units' of time known as Manvantara(s). Each Manvantara has many sets of four Yuga(s). Many Manvantaras make one Kalpa or total period of the present creation. The names of the four Yuga(s) and the corresponding number of years they constitute is as follows:       

There are 60 such names given to 60 years,or 60 Samvatsara(s).First name is 'Prabhava' and the 60th name is 'Akshaya'.The year 2009-10 is known as Virodhi. These names of the years are also of theoretical importance for a Hindu now.They are listed in most of the Panchaanga books.

SHAKA SYSTEM OF COUNTING YEARS: The numbers in the Shaka system are variable depending upon the first year in which the Shaka was started by an emperor. But the names of the year are always the same regardless of the Shaka to which it belongs. Since man could at the most live for about 100 years, it is easy to know his age if the Samvatsara of his birth is known.
      Name of Yuga             Number of years

     Kretha Yuga                    17, 28,000

     Thretha Yuga                  12,96,000

     Dwapara Yuga                  8,64,000

     Kali Yuga                            4,32,000

These figures are also of only theoretical importance to a Hindu. The Hindus have named the years known as Samvatsara(s) in order to identify the time of any event. The common calendar does not have such names applied to the years.
The Hindu calendar also names six 'seasons'. They are known as Rithu(s). Their names are as given in the table on the left.
1. Vasantha, 2. Greeshma,             3. Varsha, 4. Sharath, 5. Hemanth 6. Shishir

The Hindu name for the date is Thithi. We know that a Lunar month has 28 to 30 days.

        There are two 15-day periods in each month. Each of the two 15-day periods is known as Paksha (fortnight).

       The moon as we know rotates around the earth one full circle in its orbit every 30 days. When we look up at the moon in the sky any night, what we see is the light from Sun reflected by the moon. This light is a reflexion that is seen by us. Half of the moon is always lighted by the Sun, a fully lighted half of the moon can be observed from earth on one day only in a month. This is the Full Moon day or Poornima.

      About 15 days later the lighted half of the moon remains completely invisible from the earth and we see no moon on such a day. This is the New Moon day or Amaavasya.

      The Paksha ending with the Full Moon is known as Shukla Paksha and the Paksha ending with the New Moon is known as Krishna Paksha.

     As the moon turns further a small thin curve of reflected light (a fraction of the sun-lighted half of the moon) can be seen from the earth.

     On the second day after the New Moon day there is slightly thicker curve of reflected light.

     On the third day the curved light is still wider, and so on until the fifteenth day when the moon is fully visible as a round ball of light, which is Poornima Moon.

     The day after Poornima, the sun-lighted half of the moon begins to turn slowly and the moon looks like a large fat oval.

   The second day after Poornima, the moon becomes a slightly smaller oval. On the third day it becomes still smaller an oval, and thus on the fifteenth day after Poornima, the moon is totally darkened out. This therefore is Amaavasya.
The Hindu calendar also names twelve months known in Sanskrit as Maasa(s). 1. Chaithra,   2. Vaishakha, 3. Jyeshta,  4. Ashaada,
5. Shraavana, 6. Bhadrapada, 7. Ashweeja,  8. Kaarthika,
9. Margashira,  10. Pushya,   11. Magha,     12. Phalguna
Months or Maasa(s).

1. Chaithra,                 2. Vaishakha,                   3. Jyeshta, 

4. Ashaada,                 5. Shraavana,                   6. Bhadrapada,

7. Ashweeja,               8. Kaarthika,                     9. Margashira, 

10. Pushya,               11. Magha,                        12. Phalguna
There are two months or Maasa(s) to each Rithu or seasons. The names of Maasa and the corresponding Rithu are given in the table below.
   Name of Rithu   Name of corresponding

    Vasantha                Chaithra and Vaishakha

    Greeshma              Jyeshta and Ashaada and

    Varsha                    Shraavana and Bhadrapada

    Sharath                   Ashweeja, and Kaarthik

    Hemanth                Margashira and Pushya

    Shishir                     Maagha and Phalguna

The Hindu days are called Vaara and their names and corresponding English names are given below.
                                        DAYS VAARA(s)

    Bhanuvaara, Adithyavaara,
    Ravivaara                                   SUNDAY

    Somavaara                                MONDAY

    Mangalavaara                           TUESDAY

    Budhavaara                              WEDNESDAY

    Brihaspathivaara                    THURSDAY

    Shukravaara                            FRIDAY

    Shanivaara                              SATURDAY

(Reference: Cultural Relativity page 478)

        In order to eliminate the confusion with regards to the numbering of the year in a global set-up, every nation has adopted the Christian era. The year 2019 means there have been 2019 years since the Christian era began.
        According to K N Nayak, the author of the book 'Cultural Relativity" this Kalpa began at the beginning of the Kretha Yuga. After Kretha, there have been Thretha and Dwapara Yugas and 5,119  years of Kali Yuga as on 18th Friday of January 2019. This Kali Yuga started on a Friday dated 18th January 3100 B. C. (before Christ).
        The Kali Yuga of the Hindu calendar has 4,23,000 years in all. Therefore we have only done 5,119 years of this number and still 417881 years remain in the Kali Yuga before there will be a Pralaya or End of the Kalpa and of the Universe, a long time indeed.
Late Kumble Narasimha Nayak in his book Cultural Relativity writes that the Cultures of different periods and different continents have their own frames. The Indic culture he says is in the Unity in Diversity frame with the Zero as the fifth dimension because time and space are infinitesimal.
        The Western culture at present is in the Diversity frame with the Bible, Quran and Communist ideologies stating that a year be a 12 month period.
By Mohan Shenoy
        When the Sun and the Moon are viewed from earth (with appropriate protection to the eyes), at the end of the New Moon both Sun and Moon are located at the same angle.

        But when Moon travels further and locates at an angle of 12 degrees to the line of the Sun one Tithi has passed. Therefore the Sun is at 12 degrees distant from the line of the Moon at the end of one Tithi, viz. Prathama. The Sun is 24 degrees distant at the end of second Thithi viz, Dwithiya and 36 degrees at the end of Thrithiya. and so on and at 180 degrees distant at the end of Full Moon day Poornima.

        The first fortnight or Shukla Paksha ends at Poornima. Similarly when the Moon moves further on his path, through the second fortnight Krishna Paksha starts. Kirshna Paksha also starts with another Prathama. The Sun is at 192 degrees distant from the line of the Moon at the end of the Tithi of Prathama of Krishna Paksha. 204 degrees distant at the end of the Tithi of Dwithiya; 216 degrees distant at the end of Thrithiya and so on until New Moon arrives again and he will be at 360 degrees distant from the Moon.

        At 360 degres, the Sun and the Moon are again at the same angle as viewed from the earth.

        However, since the earth and Sun are also changing their positions during this one month from end of New Moon to the next end of New Moon, the time spent for 12 degrees of travel also changes. The time of a Tithi therefore varies from the lowest 53 Ghatika(s) 56 Pala(s) and 0 Vipala(s), or 21 hours and 34 minutes and 24 seconds to the highest 65 Ghatika(s) and 16 Pala(s) and 0 Vipala(s), or 26 hours and 6 minutes and 24 seconds.

       The Mean time of a Tithi could be the average of all Tithi(s) and it is 59 Ghatika(s) and 3 Pala(s) and 40.23 Vipala(s).

       The peculiarity of Tithi(s) is that unlike the Calendar day which begins at 0000 Hours at midnight and end at 2400 Hours at midnight, a Tithi begins and ends at different time on the clock. Often a Tithi begins sometime during the 24 hours of a day and ends either in the same 24 hours of the day or on the following day. In a particular day a Tithi might end and the following Tithi might begin.
        Because of the changes in the position of the time period known as Tithi(s) they do not correspond to the dates on the common calendar every year.

        For example the day of birth of a child determined by the name of Tithi, Paksha, Maasa and Samvatsara as is done in the Hindu Calendar corresponding to the date in the common calendar will not repeat on the same date of the common calendar next year.

        For practical purposes, the Tithi that is current at the time of Sunrise is considered the Tithi for a particular day, even if another Tithi either began or ended during the same 24 hours until next Sunrise time. For example on a Monday at Sunrise the Tithi is Chathurdashi (Fourteenth) then Monday is considered as the Chathurdashi, even if the Tithi of Poornima the next Thithi, begins some time in the afternoon.

Tri-urnal Thithi(s): There are occasions when two days e.g. Thursday and Friday are given the same Tithi name. This happens when on Thursday the current Tithi, Chowthi at Sunrise, had just begun and since it might be the longest Tithi of 26 hours (see above) ends after the Sunrise on Friday. Since Chowthi was the Tithi at Sunrise on Thursday and also at Sunrise on Friday both Thursday and Friday are considered Chowthi days. Such Tithi(s) are known as Tri-urnal Tithi(s).

Redundant Tithi(s): There are also Tithi(s) that are Redundant Tithi(s). A Redundant Tithi is the one which does not see a Sunrise during its time period. It begins after the Sunrise and ends before the next Sunrise.

        Aberration is seen in using Tithi as a particular day because in a Lunar year with 12 Lunar months (Maasa) there are only 354 to 355 days while there should be 360 Tithi(s). If each Tithi is counted as a day then we add 7 Tri-urnal Tithi(s) and 13 Redundant Tithi(s).