Vaiṣṇava calendar



Year of the lunisolar calendar[edit]

The new year day is the first day of the shukla paksha of Chaitra. In the case of adhika or kshaya months relating to Caitra, the aforementioned religious rules apply giving rise to the following results:

  • If an adhika Chaitra is followed by a nija Chaitra, the new year starts with the nija Caitra.
  • If an adhika Chaitra is followed by a Chaitra-Vaishākha kshaya, the new year starts with the adhika Caitra.
  • If a Caitra-Vaiśākha Kṣaya occurs with no adhika Chaitra before it, then it starts the new year.
  • If a Caitra-Phālguna Kṣaya' occurs, it starts the new year.


Correspondence of the lunisolar calendar to the solar calendar[edit]

A lunisolar calendar is always a calendar based on the moon's celestial motion, which in a way keeps itself close to a solar calendar based on the sun's (apparent) celestial motion. That is, the lunisolar calendar's new year is to kept always close (within certain limits) to a solar calendar's new year.
Since the Hindu lunar month names are based on solar transits, and the month of Caitra will, as defined above, always be close to the solar month of Meṣa (Aries), the Hindu lunisolar calendar will always keep in track with the Hindu solar calendar.
The Hindu solar calendar by contrast starts on April 1415 each year. This signifies the sun's "entry" into Mesha rashi and is celebrated as the New Year in Assam, Bengal, Odisha, Manipur, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. The first month of the year is called "Chitterai (சித்திரை)" in Tamil, "Medam" in Malayalam and Bohag in Assamese, Baisakh in Bengali/Punjabi and Nepali. This solar new year is celebrated on the same day in Myanmar,Cambodia, Laos, Nepal and Thailand due to Tamil influence on those countries[citation needed].


Eras[edit]

Hinduism follows Hindu units of time containing 4 eras (Technically Yuga) or ages, of which we are currently in the last. The four yugas are:

  1. Kṛta Yuga or Satya Yuga
  2. Treta Yuga
  3. Dvāpara Yuga
  4. Kali Yuga

They are often translated into English as the golden, silver, bronze and Iron Ages. (Yuga means era or age.) The ages see a gradual decline of dharma, wisdom, knowledge, intellectual capability, life span and emotional and physical strength. The epoch provided above is the start of the Kali Yuga. The Kali Yuga is 432,000 years long. The Dvāpara, Tretā and Kṛta (Satya) Yuga-s are two, three and four times the length of the Kali Yuga respectively. Thus they together constitute 4,320,000 years. This is called a Catur-Yuga.
A thousand and a thousand (i.e. two thousand) Catur-Yuga-s are said to be one day and night of the creator Brahmā. He (the creator) lives for 100 years of 360 such days and at the end, he is said to dissolve, along with his entire Creation, into the Eternal Soul or Paramātman.


History[edit]

The Hindu Calendar descends from the Vedic times. There are many references to calendrics in the Vedas. The (6) Vedāṅga-s (auto Veda) called Jyotiṣa (literally, "celestial body study") prescribed all the aspects of the Hindu calendars. After the Vedic period, there were many scholars such as Āryabhaṭṭa (5th century CE), Varāhamihira (6th century) and Bhāskara (12th century) who were experts scholars in Jyotiṣa and contributed to the development of the Hindu Calendar.
The most widely used authoritative text for the Hindu Calendars is the Sūrya Siddhānta, a text of uncertain age, though some place it at 10th century.
The traditional Vedic calendar used to start with the month of agrahayan (agra=first + ayan = travel of the sun, equinox) or Mārgaśīṣa. This is the month where the Sun crosses the equator, i.e. the vernal equinox. This month was called mārgashirsha after the fifth nakshatra (around lambda orionis). Due to the precession of the Earth's axis, the vernal equinox is now in Pisces, and corresponds to the month of chaitra. This shift over the years is what has led to various calendar reforms in different regions to assert different months as the start month for the year. Thus, some calendars (e.g. Vikram) start with Caitra, which is the present-day month of the vernal equinox, as the first month. Others may start with Vaiśākha (e.g. Bangabda). The shift in the vernal equinox by nearly four months from Agrahāyaṇa to Caitra in sidereal terms seems to indicate that the original naming conventions may date to the fourth or fifth millennium BCE, since the period of precession in the Earth's axis is about 2500,800 years.
Regional variants[edit]

The Indian Calendar Reform Committee, appointed in 1952 (shortly after Indian independence), identified more than thirty well-developed calendars, all variants of the Surya Siddhanta calendar outlined here, in systematic use across different parts of India. These include the widespread Vikrama and Shalivahana calendars and regional variations thereof. The Tamil calendar, a solar calendar, is used in Tamil Nadu and Kollavarsham Calendar is used in Kerala.


Vikrama and Shalivahana calendars[edit]

The two calendars most widely used in India today are the Vikrama calendar followed in Western and Northern India and Nepal, and the Shalivahana or Saka calendar which is followed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra andGoa.
In the year 56 BCE, Vikrama Samvat era was founded by the emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain following his victory over the Sakas. Later, in a similar fashion, Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni initiated the Saka era to celebrate his victory against the Sakas in the year 78 CE.
Both the Vikrama and the Shalivahana eras are lunisolar calendars, and feature annual cycles of twelve lunar months, each month divided into two phases: the 'bright half' (Śukla Pakṣa) and the 'dark half' (Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa); these correspond respectively to the periods of the 'waxing' and the 'waning' of the moon. Thus, the period beginning from the first day after the new moon and ending on the full moon day constitutes the Śukla Pakṣa, 'bright part' of the month; the period beginning from the day after Pūrṇimā (the full moon) until and including the next new moon day constitutes the Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa, the'dark part' of the month.
The names of the 12 months, as also their sequence, are the same in both calendars; however, the new year is celebrated at separate points during the year and the "year zero" for the two calendars is different. In the Vikrama calendar, the zero year corresponds to 56 BCE, while in the Shalivahana calendar, it corresponds to 78 CE. The Vikrama calendar begins with the month of Baiśākha or Vaiśākha (April), or Kartak (October/November) in Gujarat. The Shalivahana calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March) and the Ugadi/Gudi Padwa festivals mark the new year.
Another little-known difference between the two calendars exists: while each month in the Shalivahana calendar begins with the 'bright half' and is followed by the 'dark half', the opposite obtains in the Vikrama calendar. Thus, each month of the Shalivahana calendar ends with the no-moon day and the new month begins on the day after that, while the full-moon day brings each month of the Vikrama calendar to a close (This is an exception in Gujarati Calendar, its month (and hence new year) starts on a sunrise of the day after new moon, and ends on the new moon, though it follows Vikram Samvat).
In Gujarat, Diwali is held on the final day of the Vikram Calendar and the next day marks the beginning of the New Year and is also referred as Annakut or Nutan Varsh or Bestu Varash. In the Hindu calendar popularly used in North India the year begins with Chaitra Shukala Pratipadha (March April).


Samvat calendars[edit]

Samvat is one of the several Hindu calendars in India:


Most holidays in India are based on the first two calendars. A few are based on the solar cycle, Sankranti (solar sidereal) and Baisakhi (solar tropical).

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