The Hindu Calendar System
India’s cultural diversity is matched by the number of calendars followed in the country. Until 1957, around 30 varying calendars were used by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains to determine the dates of religious festivals. Muslims had their own Islamic calendar. The government used the Gregorian calendar for administrative use.
India’s National Calendar
India’s national calendar was created in 1957. The months in the calendar are named based on traditional Indian months.
Eras and Epochs
The initial epoch in the Indian calendar is known as the Saka Era. Another popular era is the Vikram epoch that began with the crowning of King Vikramaditya.
The Hindu Calendar
The Hindu calendar is known as the “panchang”. It is used for determining the dates of various festivals, as well as auspicious days and times for performing rituals. The Hindu calendar was originally based on moon movements. The Rig Veda contains references to such calendars. Hindu calendars have also been reformed by Greek and Babylonian astronomical ideas. As a result, both lunar and solar movements were taken into consideration for calculating dates. But, lunar movements are still considered to decide auspicious times and dates of religious festivals.
The Lunar Year
The Hindu calendar stipulates that a lunar year is for 12 months. Each lunar month has two fortnights (two-week periods). Each lunar day is called a “tithi”. Every month has 30 tithis. Each tithi is for 20-27 hours. When the moon is waxing, tithis are known as “shukla”, meaning bright phase. The waxing phase is an auspicious fortnight. Tithis are called “krishna”, or dark phase, during the waning fortnight, which is considered inauspicious.