In fact, this universe is one which encompasses all physical matter, including all the stars, planets, galaxies, etc. in space. All planets, stars & galaxies are inter-dependent and have profound effect on living beings including Human beings. This fact was first realised by Hindus and thus the Hindu Calendar was created. The Hindu Calendar is not the arithmetical division into months and year, but based on scientific study of moon, planets and stars.
The modern science has established the effect of movements of the moon, the planets, the stars and other celestial bodies on the human psyche, just as the tides are influenced by the gravitational attraction of the moon and the sun. We sense seasonal changes.
Ancient rishis deeply studied the impacts of celestial bodies human beings and devised the Hindu calendar which provides knowledge of auspicious or inauspicious moments. Hindu Calendar is an accumulation of numerous lunisolar calendars used widely in Vedic Astrology.
As per Hindu system, there is a cycle of 60 years which repeats. Each year has different attributes and auspiciousness or inauspiciousness. Jupiter takes 11.8618 Earth years to complete its elliptical orbit the Sun (i.e., Jovian Year). The earth year in Sanskrit is called as Samvatsara. During one Jovian During one Jovian year, Jupiter crosses 12 Zodiac signs and thus completes 12 Samvatsaras. During the entire journey Jupiter has either positive or negative influence on the individual.
The sixty years are named in Sanskrit indicating different consequences for the year concerned (Names mentioned below - Note – 1). Sixty Samvatsaras are divided into three groups of twenty each. The first twenty from Prabhava to Vyasa are assigned to Brahma, next twenty from Sarvajit to Prabhava to Vishnu and last twenty from Plavanga to Kshaya to Shiva. Individual born in the respective year will have certain special talent, success in particular traits, bestowed with wealth, fame or generosity etc. The year typically begins in mid-April. The year 2019-20 was named ‘Vikari’, that lived up to its name by being a ‘illness’ year. The year 2020-21 was named ‘Sharvari’, meaning darkness, and it did push the world into a dark phase. The ‘Plava’ year (2021-22) is beginning. ‘Plava’ means, "that - which ferries us across". The Varaha Samhita says: this will ferry the world across unbearable difficulties and reach us to a state of glory. And take us from darkness to light. The year 2022-23 is named ‘Shubhkrut’, meaning that which creates auspiciousness. To discuss full characteristics associated with each year is not possible in this article.
Further, Hindu Calendar has five limbs, called in Sanskrit as Panchang or Panchangam. Panchang comprises of five distinguished sources of energy, which are – day (Vaar), Date of the month (Tithi), Stars (Nakshatra), Half Lunar Day (Karna) and Luni-Solar day (Yoga).
Day of the Week (Vaar)
The 7-day week starts from Sunday to Saturday and are named after their representative planets (Sunday – Sun, Monday – Moon, Tuesday – Mars, Wednesday – Mercury, Thursday – Jupiter, Friday – Venus and Saturday – Saturn). It modulates auspicious events, dates and occasions. The counting of day begins with the sunrise of the first day to the sunrise of the second day.
A specific Vaar is important, as they are supposed to be suitable for specific activities. In general, out of seven days, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are considered auspicious for commencing good work. However, Saturday is considered an auspicious day for undergoing operation.
Lunar Day (Tithi)
Tithi depends on position of Moon in Shukla Paksha (waxing phase) or Krishna Paksha (waning phase) and is named after the condition of Moon. There are 14 tithis in both cycles between Amavasya and Purnima.
Tithi plays an important role along with nakshatra in Hindus' daily as well as special activities in selecting the muhurta. There are auspicious Tithis as well as inauspicious Tithis, each considered more propitious for some purposes than for other. Lunar month has 30 Tithis – 15 Tithis each during Shukla paksha (i.e., new moon to full moon, illumination of moon increases) and Krishna Paksha (i.e., full moon to downsizing, illumination of moon decreases). With each tithi, moon gains 12 degrees thus totalling to 360 degrees.
As per Hindu Astrology, Tithis during 15 Tithis of Shukla / Krishna Paksh are ruled by different deities (say, first day - Agni, second - Brahma, third - Gauri, fourth – Yama / Ganapati, fifth - Serpent, sixth - Kartikeya, seventh - Surya, eighth - Rudra, nineth - Ambikaa, tenth - Dharmraja, eleventh - Rudra, twelfth - Vishnu, thirteenth - Kamdeva, fourteenth - Kali, fifteenth – Pitru devas).
Each Tithi is auspicious for particular aspect of life. Pratipada (1st day) is auspicious for all types of religious and auspicious ceremonies, festivals, journeys, wedding, installation, observing a vow, accepting honours or a position, activities related to real estate and hair cutting; Dwitya (2nd day) is good for starting any new work, for laying the foundation of house, factory, and other things of a permanent nature; Tritya (3rd day) is auspicious day to start important businesses, wedding, the first music lesson, the first feeding of a child, construction; Chaturthi (fourth day) is not good for auspicious work, good for destruction of enemies; Panchami (5th day) is favourable for administering medicine, to start important businesses, wedding and healing; Shashthi (6th day) for enjoyment; Saptami (7th day) for journey; Ashtami for building defence; Navami (9th day) is not good for auspicious works; Dashami (10th day) for religious functions & spiritual practices; Ekadashi (11th day) for fasting; Dwadashi (12th day) for religious ceremonies & sacred fire; Trayodasi (13th day) for sensual pleasure; Chaturdashi (14th day) is not good for auspicious work; Purnima / Amavasya (15th day), Purnima for fire sacrifice and Amavasya for propitiation of the Manes and performance of austerities.
The tithis are divided into five groups based on auspicious or inauspicious mahurats (48 minutes) as under:
Poorna (Sampoorna - Full or New Moon) Tithi – Thursday Panchami, Dashami and Amavasya (New Moon) or Poornima (Full Moon). It is considered auspicious to fulfil resolutions taken.
Lunar Mansion (Nakshatra)
Nakshatras are group of 27 stars forming a constellation or zodiac sign. The universe is divided into 12 constellations according to Vedic Astrology. They are analysed according to the Moon’s position. There are 27 group of stars (Names mentioned below - Note – 2). A few groups of nakshatras are considered either auspicious or inauspicious.
Half Lunar Day (Karana)
The half of a Yoga is called Karana. 2 Karanas make a Date or Tithi, totalling to 11 Karanas in all. 4 of them are fixed, and remaining 7 are movable.
There are 11 Karanas (Names mentioned below - Note – 3). The first 7 of these Karanas are movable (Chara) i.e., it cannot be predetermined as to on which dates, these are going to occur, but the last 4 Karanas are fixed (Sthira), and hence can be predetermined.
Luni-Solar Day (Yoga)
A yoga is calculated by summing the Longitude of Moon and Sun and divided into 27 Yogas in 13°20'(Names mentioned below - Note – 4). 27 Yogas are for 27 Nakshatras. Out of 27 Yogas, nine are inauspicious - Vishakumbha, Atiganda, Shoola, Ganda, Vyaghaata, Vajra, Vyatipaata, Parigha and Vaidhriti.
Significance of time zones in a day (Mahurat):
24 hours of a day is divided into 30 time zones in a day, called as Mahurat. Thus, each Mahurat is of 48 minutes. Mahurat is calculated with sunrise, assuming sunrise at 06:00 AM on the vernal equinox, which is the Vedic New Year. All the 30 Mahurats are called by a particular name and have property of auspiciousness or inauspiciousness. The Vedic scriptures generally recommend one or more Mahurats to perform rituals and practices. Brahma Mahurat is approximately one and a half hours before sunrise or more precisely is 96 Minutes and is considered most apt for meditation.
Science in Hindu Vrats & Upvas
This is claimed that Snatana Dharma is purely scientific. Truly, the Snatana Dharma is developed after research of thousands of years by rishis (ancient Hindu scientists, seers). This website www.dnaofhinduism.com attempts to highlight the scientific basis of Snatana Dharma.
As per modern Astronomy, sun passes through the constellations that formed the Zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. Under the influence of gravitational force and because of the orbital path combination of sun, moon and earth, lunar and planetary bodies impact on human bodies. Lunar cycle has eight phases are, in order, no or new Moon (completely dark side facing earth), waxing crescent (tiny portion visible), first quarter (half-moon visible), waxing gibbous (most of the moon visible), full Moon, waning gibbous (illuminated side shrinking), third quarter (half illuminated) and waning crescent (thin curve). The cycle repeats once a month (every 29.5 days).
The modern science has researched as follows:
The dates viz. Sankranti, Chaturthi, Ekadashi, Trayodashi, Purnima and Amavasya, are important in Hinduism. Most of the festivals are celebrated on these dates and vrats and upvas are observed. The question is “Why so.” These dates in Hindu calendar coincide with astronomical facts which has correlation of Sun, Moon, Earth and Stars. Sankranti, Chaturthi, Ekadashi and Trayodashi are the astronomical dates specially dedicated to five deities – Sankranti – Sun, Chaturthi – Sri Ganesh, Ekadashi – Sri Vishnu and Trayodashi – Shiv ji and Ma Parvati.
Chaturthi (4th date) dedicated to Sri Ganesh:
Fourth day falling after full moon (Purnima) in Krishna Paksha is called as ‘Sankashti Chaturthi’ and fourth day after new moon (Amavasya) in Shukla paksha is termed as ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’. The word “Sankashti” comes from Sanskrit and implies “freedom from difficult times”.
In Hindu scriptures, Chaturthi Tithi belongs to Lord Ganesh, son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Ganesh signifies prosperity, wisdom and good fortune. He is believed to be the remover of obstacles and also the lord of learning. On Sankashi Chaturthi, devotees worship Lord Ganesh to overcome their hurdles in life and to come out as an achiever in difficult times.
Ekadashi (11th date) dedicated to Sri Vishnu:
Devotees of Bhagwan Vishnu observe Ekadashi fasting to seek His blessings. It falls on 11th day of lunar month. There are two Ekadashi fasting in a month, one during Shukla Paksha and another during Krishna Paksha. 24 Ekadashi occur during the year (January – Pausha Putrada Ekadashi, Saphala; February – Jaya, Shattila; March – Amalaki, Vijaya; April – Kamada, Papmochani; May – Mohini, Vaishnava Varuthini; June – Nirjala, Apara; July – Devshayani, Yogini; August – Shravan Putrada, Vaishnava Kamika; September – Parsva, Aja; October – Papankusha, Indira; November – Devutthana, Rama; December – Mokshada, Utpanna.
According to Hindu scriptures, Ekadashi and movement of the moon has a direct correlation with the human mind. It is believed that during Ekadashi, our mind attains maximum efficiency giving the brain a better capacity to concentrate.
Study says, from the eleventh day till fifth day post new moon or full moon day, moon influences us maximum and imbalance our digestive system. This also cause decrease in brain's functioning and cause weakness in memory, thought and decision making. Therefore, to avoid all these complications, it's important to clean our digestive system on every 11th day of lunar cycle. This helps our digestive system to clean up all the food and mess in our body. That is why fasting is done on Ekadashi.
Pradosh (13th date) dedicated to Shiv ji and Ma Parvati:
Pradosh Vrat or Pradosham is a popular Hindu Vrat that is dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva and his wife, Goddess Parvati. Devotees observe this vrat for eternal bliss, spiritual upliftment and good health. It falls on trayodashi or 13th day of lunar month. There are two trayodashi fasting in a month, one during Shukla Paksha and another during Krishna Paksha. 24 Pradosham occur during the year.
Purnima (Full Moon):
Purnima or the full moon is widely recognized as a symbol of fullness, abundance, and prosperity in Hindu belief. Several Hindu festivals in Panchang are aligned with the full-moon day, which is considered a benign and blessed occurrence. There is 12 Purnima in a lunar calendar. January – Pausha Purnima; February - Magha; March - Phalguna; April - Chaitra; May - Vaisakha; June - Jyeshta; July - Aashaadha; August - Shraavana; September - Bhadrapada; October - Ashwin; November - Kartika; December – Margashirsha.
Several festivals fall on Purnima such as Guru Ravidas Jayanti on Magha Purnima; Chhoti Holi on Phalguna Purnima; Hanuman Jyanti on Chaitra Purnima; Buddha Purnima on Vaisakha Purnima; Vat Purnima on Jyeshta; Guru Purnima on Aashaadha Purnima; Raksha Bandhan on Shraavana Purnima; Pitrpaksha begins on Bhadrapada Purnima; Sharad Purnima on Ashwin Purnima; Dattatray Jayanti on Margashirsha Purnima.
Shri Satyanarayan Puja is also performed on every Purnima to seek the blessings of Lord Narayan. Narayan is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Amavasya (No or New Moon):
Amavasya is the one when no moon is visible in the sky. Amavasya occurs once a month, with 12 such no moon days falling in a year. Being the darkest day of the month, Amavaysa is considered one of the most powerful and impactful times of the year.
Several important rituals and traditions are observed on this day by devotees across India. February (Magh) – Mauni Amavasya; May (Jyeshta) – Shani Jayanti, Vat Savitri Vrat; August (Bhadrapada) – Pithori Amavasya; September (Ashwin) – Sarvapitri Amavasya; October (Kartika) – Diwali, Laxmi Puja, Sharda Puja, Bengal Kali Puja.
Sankranti dedicated to Sun:
Sun stands for “Pratyaksha-Braham”, “a manifestation of the Absolute”, bestowing knowledge, spiritual light, and wisdom.
Sankranti are the days of transmigration of sun from one zodiac to another. January – Sun enters in Makar Rashi (Capricorn); February – Sun enters in Kumbh Rashi; March - Sun enters in Meena Rashi; April - Sun enters in Mesha Rashi; May - Sun enters in Vrishabha Rashi; June - Sun enters in Mithuna Rashi; July - Sun enters in Karka Rashi; August - Sun enters in Simha Rashi; September - Sun enters in Kanya Rashi; October - Sun enters in Tula Rashi; November - Sun enters in Vrishika Rashi; December - Sun enters in Dhanu Rashi.
Makar Sankranti is a special festival across the country, where the God of Sun is worshipped and gratitude is shown by offerings and prayers. The festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated in every state with different names. But the essence remains the same. In Andhra Pradesh, Sankranti is known as Pedda Panduga, Makar Sankranti in North & Karnataka, Magh Bihu in Assam, Magha Mela in the regions of central and north India, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Khichdi Sankranti in Uttar Pradesh, Pongal in Tamil Nadu. A day prior to Makar Sankranti is Lohri, a harvest festival of Punjabi.
Most of the Hindu festivals are celebrated as per the lunar cycle of the Hindu calendar. But Makar Sankranti is celebrated as per the solar cycle. It falls on Georgian date every year (January 14) except in some years when date might shift to a day of that year. It is due to the revolution of the Earth around the Sun. It marks the commencement of sun’s journey to northern hemisphere (Uttarayana). On this day, taking bath in the rivers purify the self.