Knowing the Hindu Calendar

Have you ever been in a situation where you are in a team and it seems that there is no standards to follow for a harmonious result? This is just what happened then in India. There seems to have cultural diversities that even in celebrating their holidays, they could not arrive at a common day.

They have more than 30 date systems that were based on epochs and eras. It was just in 1957, that finally the government set a national calendar for India. The Hindu Calendar, the Hindu Holidays and Festivals were institutionalized into a lunisolar calendar that was patterned somewhat with the Gregorian Calendar. The reformed calendar began on Chaitara 1, 1879 on Saka Era which is on March 22, 1957.

Hindu Calendar

Commonly termed as panchang or panjika, the Hindu calendar is very important to the lives of the Indians. It is through it that they can calculate the special dates for many rituals, festivals and holidays. At first, the calendar is solely based on lunar movements and was patterned to allusions that are found in Rig Veda. But then after centuries AD, with the introduction of Babylonian and Greek astronomy, the calendar was based on lunar and solar movements. Generally, the festivals and other religious rituals are still based on the lunar movements.

In Hindu calendar, 12 months comprise the whole lunar year. Each month comprises of two fortnights or paksha-s - the bright fortnight or waxing moon and the dark fortnight or the waning moon. During the bright fortnight, days are called shukla. The start of the waxing moon is signaled with the full moon night also called as purnima. While a day during the dark fortnight is called krishna. A week in a Hindu calendar has 7 tithi or days.

Each day usually starts at dawn. This is the most important time of the day for Hindus since they consider this the most favorable time. They chant and do rituals during the early break of morning, at noon and during sunset.

Hindu Festivals

It was said that everyday in India, there is a reason to celebrate. Basically, this rooted from the fact that Hinduism is an organic religion. They consider anything to be scared and part of their divinity. So a harvest, new months, births, victory of gods, marriages, deaths or whatever event you still have in mind, there is reason to go out on the streets to enjoy festivity.

Also, reflected on Hindu festivals are legends that were passed from generations to generations. There are explanations for celebrating this certain holiday that is associated with the gods.

The major holidays that brings the whole Indian community to gather and celebrate includes:
  • Holi, which is the festival of colors and spring - Febraury - March
  • Mashashivaratri or the scared night for Shiva - February - March
  • Rama Navami which is Lord Rama's birhtday - April
  • Krishna Jayanti or Lord Krishna's birhtday - July -August
  • Raksabandhana, renewing the bonds of brothers and sisters - July - August
  • Kmbh Mela, which is the pilgrimage to the 4 cities of India - July - August, every 12 years
  • Ganesh-Chaturthi or Ganesh festival - August - September
  • Dassera or the victory of Rayana - Septemeber - October
  • Navarati or the festival of Shakti - September to October
  • Diwali also known as the festival of lights and Laksmi - September to October

Hindu New Year

Ugadi or the Hindu New Year is celebrated on different day for each year since their calendar is lunisolar. This day starts with prayers and rituals. After which, people gather to feast on sumptuous meals. They believe that life is a mixture of triumphs and sorrows and that they should accept that fact together with the community.