Hindu calendar is a collective name for most of the lunisolar calendars and solar calendars used in India since ancient times. Since ancient times it has undergone many changes in the process of regionalization and today there are several regional Indian Hindu calendars. It has also been standardized as Indian national calendar. Nepali calendar, Assamese Calendar, Bengali calendar, Malayalam calendar, Tamil calendar, Telugu calendar, Kannada calendar etc. are some prominent regional Hindu calendars.[1] The common feature of all regional Hindu calendars is that the names of the twelve months are the same (because the names are based in Sanskrit) though the spelling and pronunciation have come to vary slightly from region to region over thousands of years. The month which starts the year also varies from region to region. The Buddhist calendar and the traditional lunisolar calendars ofCambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand are also based on an older version of the Hindu calendar.
Most of the Hindu calendars are inherited from a system first enunciated in Vedāṅga Jyotiṣa's of Lagadha, a late BCE adjunct to the Veda-s, standardized in the Sūrya Siddhānta(3rd century CE) and subsequently reformed by astronomers such as Āryabhaṭṭa (499 CE), Varāhamihira (6th century CE), and Bhāskara II (12th century CE). Differences and regional variations abound in these computations, but the following is a general overview of Hindu lunisolar calendar.


Day[edit]

In the Hindu calendar, the day starts with the sunrise. It is allotted five "properties" or "limbs", called aṅga-s. They are:

  1. the Tithi (one of 30 divisions of a synodic month) active at sunrise
  2. the Vāsara (ancient nomeclature), vāra (modern nomeclature), like in ravi-vāra, somā-vāra, etc. or weekday
  3. the Nakṣatra (one of 27 divisions of the celestial ecliptic) in which the moon resides at sunrise
  4. the Yoga (one of 27 divisions based on the ecliptic longitude of the sun and moon) active at sunrise time
  5. the Karaṇa (divisions based on tithis) active at sunrise.

Together 5 limbs or properties are labelled under as the pacāṅga-s (Sanskrit: paca = five). An explanation of the terms follows


Vāsara[edit]

Vāsara refers to the weekdays and the names of the week in many western cultures bear striking similarities with the Vāsara:
The term -vāsara is often realized as vāra or vaar in Sanskrit-derived and influenced languages. There are many variations of the names in the regional languages, mostly using alternate names of the celestial bodies involved.

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Nakṣatra[edit]

The ecliptic is divided into 27 Nakṣatra-s, which are variously called lunar houses or asterisms. These reflect the moon's cycle against the fixed stars, 27 days and 7 hours, the fractional part being compensated by an intercalary 28th nakṣatra titled Abhijit. Nakṣatra's computation appears to have been well known at the time of the Ṛgveda (2nd1st millennium BCE).
The ecliptic is divided into the nakṣatras eastwards starting from a reference point which is traditionally a point on the ecliptic directly opposite the star Spica called Citrā in Sanskrit. (Other slightly different definitions exist.) It is called Meṣādi - "start of Aries"; this is when the equinox where the ecliptic meets the equator was in Aries (today it is in Pisces, 28 degrees before Aries starts). The difference between Meṣādi and the present equinox is known as Ayanāṃśa - denoting by how much of a fraction of degrees & minutes the ecliptic has progressed from its fixed (sidereal) position. Given the 25,800 year cycle for the precession of the equinoxes, the equinox was directly opposite Spica in 285 CE, around the date of the Sūrya Siddhānta.[2][3]
The nakṣatra-s with their corresponding regions of sky are given below, following Basham.[4] As always, there are many versions with minor differences. The names on the right-hand column give roughly the correspondence of thenakṣatra-s to modern names of stars. Note that nakṣatras are (in this context) not just single stars but are segments on the ecliptic characterised by one or more stars. Hence there are more than one star mentioned for eachnakṣatra.
# Sanskrit Malayalam name
മലയാളം
Tamil name
தமிழ்
Telugu name
తెలుగు
Kannada name
ಕನ್ನಡ
Western star name
cotnd..2