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The Hindu calendar is traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia

The gregorian calendar has been adopted worldwide for the convenience of worldwide communications. There remain numerous lunisolar calendars that are followed in different parts of the world. The Hindu calendar is one of the various lunisolar calendars that is traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, with further regional variations for social and Hindu religious purposes. It is used to determine the dates of Hindu festivals and when to observe the fasts.

The Hindu Calendar is based upon the motion of the moon. Each lunar year comprises twelve months. The lunar year comprises 354 days, compared to 365 ¼ days of the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the solar system i.e. the number of days earth takes to complete one revolution around the sun. Whereas in a lunar calendar a lunar month, is the time required for the moon to orbit once around the earth and pass through its complete cycle of phases. These months are formulated in accordance with the successive entrances of the sun into the 12 Hindu rashis or the signs of the zodiac derived from the 12 constellations marking the path of the sun.

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Studies of Vedic literature show that the knowledge of chronology (the science of Time) and chronometry (scientific measurement of Time) existed even during Vedic times. People during the Vedic age knew planetary motions, constellations, eclipses, solstices, seasons, etc. Thus, the Indian calendar was devised to serve the affairs of day-to-day living; it was allowed the freedom of being both lunar and solar. The Rig Veda, cites months being lunar, but year being lunisolar. This adjustment makes sure that the seasons, festivals, etc. retain their general position alongside the solar year. This is the reason why the Hindu festivals fall around the same time every year, for example, Diwali always falls between late October and early November.

2021 Lunar calendar The Hindu Calendar is based upon the motion of the moon. Wikimedia common

Lunar days in the Hindu calendar are known as the tithis, which are calculated scientifically using the difference of the longitudinal angle between the position of the sun and the moon. A singular tithi is defined by the time required for the longitude of the Moon to increase by 12° over the longitude of the sun. The length of a tithi can vary in lengths from about 20 hours to nearly 27 hours. In the Hindu calendar, each month is 29.53 tithis. Because the Hindu calendar is based on the motion of the moon one can figure out the date by looking at the moon. If the moon is new it is Amavasya, if the moon is full it is Poornima, and there are 15 days in between which one can figure out according to the phase of the moon. Since the lunar calendar is approximately 354 days long, adjustments are made to the lunar-based calendar every 2.5 years to keep it synchronized with the solar calendar, in which years are approximately 365 days long. To achieve the ideal synchronized calendar an additional month called an 'adhik' is added to the Hindu calendar every 31st month.

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The Hindu Calendar months and the Gregorian calendar months are as follows:

  1. Chaitra: March- April
  2. Vaishakh: April-May
  3. Jeth: May-June
  4. Ashadh: June-July
  5. Shravan: July-August
  6. Bhadarvo: August-September
  7. Aaso: September-October
  8. Kartik: October-November
  9. Margashirsa: November- December
  10. Posh: December- January
  11. Magha: January- February
  12. Falgun: February- March

Every three years, one of these months occurs twice in the same year.

Keywords: Calendar, lunar calendar, Hindu calendar, Vedic literature



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