Indian Calendar - A simple creation that lasts for a century
Hindus use Panchang for all important things and life events. However, the same is much more than a mere religious calendar. Since ancient times, this Calendar has been used by people to calculate auspicious times and is truly a scientific tool.
Why is the Panchang calendar so important?
The Panchang calendar is derived from two words - Panch means five and ang mean aspects. Together the Calendar means that it uses five aspects to function, i.e.
Week or Vara
Lunar days or Tithi
Constellation or Nakshatra
The Calendar is so important because it is a detailed report based on religion and scientific principles. When you purchase any 100 years Hindu calendar, you are investing in scientific principles and techniques to identify what day is suitable for you.
So, can you read the Panchang calendar easily?
Having a basic understanding of arithmetic is important to read the Indian Calendar. So, by using the help of Panchang and arithmetic, you can interpret the same. In-depth understanding of the same is the exclusive domain of astrologers since they are experts in interpreting the results using calculations and shastras.
The Hindu tradition uses solar year as its base and uses 365 and ¼ of the day to identify the completion of a rotation around the Sun. Yet, the rest of the calculations are dependent on the movement of the moon around the Earth. Therefore, this falls short of the traditional Calendar by seven days. However, you can easily set it right by adding a month once every three years. Then the extra month is called Purushottam Maas.So, this Calendar measures the time as lunar months and each month describe the path the moon uses to traverse through the constellations. Thus, each new moon day or the Amavasya shows a new month. It is further divided into Shukla Paksha or the waxing phase, and Krishna Paksha shows the waning phase of the moon.
Importance of the Indian Calendar
The Indian National Calendar, called the Saka calendar, is the official Calendar of India. The same was adopted in 1957 to overcome ambiguity regarding the numerous other calendars available in the nation.
This Calendar uses a lunisolar system that means that it considers the apparent movements of both the Sun and moon. It is based on the length of the synodic month. Each month is divided into 30 days, and the year starts on the new moon before the Sun enters the zodiac, Aries. It coincides with the March Equinox, which shows the beginning of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
One of the most notable features of this Indian Calendar is the intricacy, as it offers multidimensional scaling of the time. So, you get lunar days, solar days, solar months, the moon and Sun movement, etc. Although the Calendar seems quite complex for a layperson, a basic understanding of the same can make it an interesting analysis of the day.
How accurate are these calendar systems?
The Hindu calendar also tracks the astronomical time in the following aspects -
The Lunar mansions are portions of the moon's orbit around the Earth. It measures 13 degrees and 20'.
The yogas are portions of the combined longitudes that show positive impact and usually coincide with the yogas associated with particular deities. So, the travel, buying of property, etc., must be concluded with the particular yoga.
Karana means half lunar days and gives certain qualities
The holidays are based on the new moon, and a large number of these fall around the same time except for Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi.
Keeping along with the balance of the leap year, an intercalary month called as the Purushottam Maas is added when lunar month starts and ends before Sun's progression to the next zodiac sign. In rare instances, the Sun traverses a whole zodiac sign then the month is removed completely from the calendar.
However, the traditional Hindu calendar is known for its intricacies in describing events. It uses a somewhat multidimensional method to structure time and combines information about lunar days, months and then combines the same to the lunar months, solar months and movements of the Sun and moon. This system makes the Hindu calendar quite complex than the Western one that is only based on the two ideal units of time i.e. solar days and years.
At the same time, the Hindu calendar tracks the solar months that in turn are described and named after the Zodiac signs that the Sun traverses during various parts of the year (as observed from the Earth). While lunar months are commonly used to define religious events and festivals, the solar months are used for civil purposes. These are then called as the civil months.