follow Hindu Lunar calendar, almanac to be specific
which is known as Panchang that gives us the days on
which the fasts and festivals should be observed.
Karnataka based GSBs have two popular Panchangs in
Kannada, called Udyavar Panchang and Mangalore Panchang,
both published from Mangalore. They are available a few weeks
before dawn of the New
For day to day reference we rely on the Gregorian
calendar, popularly known as the English Calendar with 12
months starting from January and ending up in December,
but when it comes to religious programmes we depend on
Hindu Calendar as before the programme starts, the
invocation will start with reference to the year,
season, month, fortnight, day and ‘mithi’ (tithi).
Before that mention will be made about the Manvantara
and Yuga also. Incidentally there is a separate almanac
or the solar calendar, which of course we do not follow.
to the Gregorian Calendar, the full day (daytime and
night) starts at 12.00 o’clock midnight whereas in the
Solar one, it starts from the sunrise. In the case of
Lunar calendar, which follows the course of the moon,
the Lunar day or the ‘tithi’ is from one moon-rise
to the next one.
lunar month has 30 days and going by the waning and
waxing of the moon, the month is divided into two
fortnights called Krishna Paksha (Bahula is another
name) and Shukla Paksha (Shuddha). For the sake of
better understanding Krishna Paksha is often called in
English, Dark Fortnight and Shukla, Bright Fortnight, or
the Bright Half (half a month). The Bright Half consists
of waxing of the moon whereas the Dark Half, waning of
The Lunar Month starts from the first day of waxing
and each tithi for 14 days is literally called First
day, Second day, Third day etc and on the 15th day it
will be Poornima or the Full Moon Day when one can
behold the full circle of the moon rising exactly after
the sunset and setting when the sun is going to rise,
the next day. From the 16th day, the First day of the
Dark Half starts again with the same name of the tithi
and ends up with Amavasya, the night long darkness.
Lunar calendar too has twelve months. They bear the name
of the constellation of the stars with which the moon
rises on the full moon day. For example, in the first
month of Chaitra, the moon will rise with the Chitra
star and Vaishaka, with Vishakha star. These twelve
months make a year or Samvatsara and, the Indian
Calendar believes in a cycle of 60 years and therefore
each of these 60 years will have a name, the first year
of the cycle is Prabhava and the last one is Kshaya. For
the year 2,000 AD we have from this Chaitra the 14th
Samvatsara called Vikram. The Panchang gives the names
of all the 60 years every time for a beginner to know.
The twelve lunar months are as follows: 1. Chaitra
(March-April), 2. Vaishakha (April-May), 3. Jyestha
(May-June), 4. Ashadha (June-July), 5. Shravana
(July-August), 6. Bhadrapada (Aug.-Sept), 7. Ashwij
(Sept.-Oct.), 8. Kartik (Oct.-Nov.), 9. Margashirsha (Agrahayana)(Nov.-Dec.),
10. (Pushya/Pausa) (Dec.-Jan), 11. Magha (Jan.-Feb) and
12. Phalgun (Feb.-March).
Lunar Calendar does not want to go alone and wants to
catch up with the movement of the sun and stars and so
to coquilles after every three years adds a month called
Adhik Mas or an additional month which can be called a
leap month. As an exception there will be a Kshaya Mas
or a deduction by a month also. But this will be a very
rare occasion, and had happened in 1985.
The New Year
New Year begins with the First day of Chaitra month
called Yugadi or Gudipadva. It is stated that it is the
first day of creation of this universe by Lord Brahma,
the creator. The Hindu year goes by Shalivahana Shaka or
the year of Shalivahana, the great King who ruled over
this country twenty centuries ago. The current year is
1922, which suggests the year of coronation of
Shalivahana. So from the point of view of Indian
Calendar, we have 78 years to go to reach the third
back to our study of months and year, the year is
divided into two halves,
depending on the course of the
sun called the Uttarayana and Dakshinayana which
literally mean, Northern Course and Southern Course of
the sun in the zodiac. Uttarayana is supposed to be more
auspicious than the Dakshina. Each
‘ayana’ has three seasons as under the Lunar
Calendar, we have six seasons in a year.
They are: 1. Vasanta (spring: Chaitra & Vaishakha)
(summer: Jyestha & Ashadha), 3. Varsha (rains:
Shravan & Bhadrapada), 4. Sharad (autumn: Ashvij
& Kartik), 5 Hemanta (winter: Margashira & Pushya)
and 6. Shishira (cool: Magha & Phalgun). Thus the
Lunar calendar starts roughly with April and ends up in
March and interestingly the financial year of India
corresponds with our lunar calendar. With this
preliminary study of Indian calendar we proceed now with
the festivals and fasts of
1. The First Day of the Shukla Paksha, New
Year’s Day. Lord Brahma on this day created the
Universe. How may years ago? Our astrologers, in the
197,29,49,099 years ago. Decades ago people used to buy
new clothes sufficient for one full year and in between
except ceremonies like wedding and upanayanams
they were not buying
new clothes. In temples the New Panchang
is ceremoniously released and the Samvatsara
the predictions for the whole year are read out, rain,
sunshine, crops, metals, business position, war or
peace, prosperity plenty
or draughts and
and ultimately the political situation also. It
is worth going through the predictions. New clothes are
put on. Then in some families there is a system
of “kappad vadap” which means dedication of saris
and dhotis to the memory of the departed souls with an offering of food or sweet beaten
rice and an arti. The head of the family does it without
the assistance of a
priest and after food, the dhoti will be put on
by him and sari, his wife.
9th day: Shri Rama Navami, Lord Rama’s Birthday.
3. Poornima, Shri Hanuman Jayanti
3rd day: Akshaya tritiya-Shri Parashurama Jayanti.
2. Shukla 14th day: Shri Narasimha Jayanti.
3. Full Moon:
Koorma Jayanti and Kartika Poornima
14th Day: Vatasavitri Vrita.
1. Shukla Ekadasi
Prathama Ekadashi or Ashadi: Fast and prayers.
1. Shukla 5th day: Naga Panchami: Milk is offered
to naga carvings in temples and naga bans with arti and
prayers to nagas.
2. Poornima: Rig Upakarma: Change of janwa or the sacred threads. The married will have two janwas and the unmarried will have one with three threads. It is to be put on around the body passing from the left shoulder. The three threads indicate Brahma,Vishnu and Maheshwara according to one version but according to a more meaningful version the three threads signify our indebtedness throughout the life for three great institutions 1. All gods who have granted us all natural resources free, to live on this earth.
2. Our parents who have given us birth and life and first knowledge soon after we were born but before we were sent to school . Here parents include our forefathers also. And 3. Our Sages and Acharyas who have given us the gift of knowledge. The janwa gives us full protection against every evil, this is what the scriptures proclaim.
3. 8th day of Krishna Paksha: Shri Janmashtami: The Birthday of Lord Krishna.
Shukla 3rd day: Gowri Pooja and Vayana Pooja.
4th day: Shri Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganapati Pooja.
14th day: Shri Anant Chaturdashi.
The entire Krishna
Paksha, thereafter is called Mahalaya with Amavasya
at the end called Mahalaya Amavasya. This
fortnight is dedicated to pitras or our departed
forefathers who re supposed to visit us during this
and shraddhas are offered in memory
Ashwija (Ashwin or Ashwayuja)
The first 9 days of the Shukla Paksha constitute
Navaratri with the worship of Mother Goddess Durga and
all our Kuladevas where
She is amongst us assuming
2. Vijaya Dasami, most of the
temples will worship new paddy corn and
distribute to their devotees. New corn is brought
home and tied to the pillars, treasury, vessel in which
grain is stored etc. invoking plenty and prosperity.
Paksha 14th day: Naraka Chaturdashi
with traditional oil bath in the early
hours of the morning.
4. Amavasya Day: Gow-pooja, Shri Laxmi Pooja in
shops and offices and Bali pooja also.
1. Shukla 11th day: Kartik Ekadashi: Full day fast and
2. Shukla 12th day: Tulsi Pooja.
3.Poornima: Kartik Poornima: Deepotsava in a good
Shukla 6th day: Shri Subramanya Shashthi.
No festivals and no auspicious activities. Even for
wedding proposals no horoscopes are exchanged. Full
January 14th Makara Sankranti, based on Solar Calendar.
1. Shukla 7th Day:
2. 8th day Bhishmashtami,
3. 9th day Shri Madhwa Navami. and
4. Poornima: Holi
5. Krishna Paksha 13th or 14th day: Mahashivaratri.
In lunar calendar, every fortnight has one Ekadashi, and
the scriptures ordain that the Ekadashi should be
observed by way of fast during daytime and prayers at
nights. And the fast should be broken on Dwadashi
Day, i.e. the next day morning. But in the present day
context, two Ekadashis, Ashad and Kartik are observed by
many religious minded people. But our temples, maths,
swamijis and the priests observe all the Ekadashis.
Three and a half auspicious days in a year
Incidentally, the lunar calendar of ours does not give us Rahukala or Guligakala which somehow have crept in our day to
day life. Our Panchang on the other hand gives us Amritghadi
and Vishaghadi indicating auspicious and inauspicious
moments. But there are three and a half most auspicious days on which
it is believed that all the moments are most
auspicious. They are Gudipadva, Akshaya Tritiya
(believed to be the first day of Satya
Yuga), Vijaya Dashami and the half day of Bali-padya. On
these three and half days any moment a new task or a venture can be started.