The Sanskrit word for Calendar is Panchānga. As the name indicates it consists of five elements (Anga). These elements are Tithi, Vāra (Day), Naxatra, Yoga and Karana. These five elements play an important role in any human being. It is said that (titheshcha) by uttering Tithi, wealth is attained; by uttering Vāra life span is increased; by utering Naxatra sins are destroyed; by uttering Yoga deseases are cured; and by uttering Karana works are completed. Thus is the effect of Panchānga. The Calendar basically depends on the planetory system. Unlike the modern science, the planetory system according to Hindu tradition consists of Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupitor, Saturn, Rāhu and Ketu. It is also considered as these planets play an important role in every individual.
As the above verse states, Let Sun etc, the well wishing plantes, Mesha etc, the Rāshis, Stars, Yogās, Tithi and their respective Gods and groups of Gods, Month, Year, Ritu (two months make a Ritu), Days, Sunraise, Sunset, Night and all the living and non living beings bring us the Good always.
There are mainly 3 different calendar systems in Hindu tradition.
Solar calendar month depends on the movement of the Sun from one Rāshi to another. The day when Sun moves from one Rāshi to another is called Sankramana. Makara Sankramana is the day when the Sun enters Makara Rāshi, which is also called Sankrānti, which occurs usually on January 14th or 15th every year. The number of days in a solar calendar month varies from 30 to 32. The solar year is basically divided into Uttarāyana and Daxināyana. From Makara Sankramana to Karkātaka Sankramana it is called Uttarāyana and from Karkātaka Sankramana to Makara Sankramana it is called Daxināyana.
The number of days in a lunar month depends on the movement of the moon with respect to Sun. The days can be 29 or 30. The lunar month has two parts called Paxa. The first Paxa is called Krishna Paxa is of usually 15 days. It starts from the Pādya and end with Amāvāsya. The second part, Shukla Paxa, which is again usually 15 days, starts from Pādya and ends with Pournima. Each day is called a Tithi. There are cases where two Tithi can fall on the same day due to overlap of moon movements with respect to Sun.
There can be an extra month present in the Chāndra Māna. This extra month is called Adhika Māsa. A month is said to be Adhika Māsa or Shūnya Māsa when there is no Sankramana in that month. This extra month usually comes approximately once in every two and half years. For more details please refer to Adhika Māsa. There can also be two Sankramanas in a Chāndra Māsa and is called Xaya Māsa.
The number of days in a Pitru Māsa also depends on the movement of moon with respect to Sun. The basic difference between Chāndra Māsa and Pitru Māsa is that in Chāndra Māsa, the month starts with Krishna Paxa Pādya and ends with Pournima. In Pitru Māsa the month starts with Shukla Paxa Pādya and ends with Amāvāsya.
The usual practice is considering Pitru Māsa as Chāndra Māsa. Almost all calendars published by different Mādva Mathas indicate the rituals to be performed according to Chāndra Māsa. For Ex. Vaishāka snāna, Kārtīka snāna starts from Pournima of the Chaitra and Ashvīja respectively and ends with Pornima of Vaishāka and Kārtīka.
Sri Vādirāja Tīrtha explains in his Bhāva Prakāshikā, commentary to Mahābhārata Tātparya Nirnaya (MBTN) of Shrīmadānandatīrtha, the above fact clearly. The incidence is when Pāndavās are in Virāta nagara in disguise; Duryodhana came to know about the death of Kīchaka. Then he suspects it is the act of Bhīma and none other could kill Kīchaka. He tells Bhīshmāchārya that he found where the Pāndavās are living before they could complete one year in disguise and so they should repeat the cycle of Vanavāsa and Ajnāta Vāsa. Bhīshmāchārya tells that Pāndavās have completed one year of disguise. The gist of Bhīshmāchāryas stand is explained by Shrīmadāchāryaru in MBTN:
sauramAsAnusAreNa dhArtarAshhTrA apUrNatAm.h |
AhushchAndreNa mAsena pUrNaH kAlo.akhilo.apyasau || 23\.54||
dinAnAmadhipaH sUryaH paxamAsAbdapaH shashI |
tasmAt.h saumyAbdamevAtra mukhyamAhurmanIshhiNaH |
saumyaM kAlaM tato yaj~ne gR^ihNanti natu sUryajam.h || 23\.55||
tadetadavichAryaiva lobhAchcha dhR^itarAshhTrajaiH |
rAjyaM na dattaM pArthebhyaH pArthAH kAlasya pUrNatAm.h |
khyApayanto vipravarairupaplAvyamupAyayuH || 23\.56||
The gist of the above shloka -- The sons of Dhrutarāshtra are calculating according to Soura Māna and are not correct. The time period is complete according to Chāndra Māna. The reference for the calculation of day is Sun and the reference for fortnight is Moon. Hence Chāndramāna should be considered for calculations for month and year. For performing yajna, only Chādramāna is considred and not Souramāna. The sons of Dhrutarāshtra are jelous.
In the commentary for the above shlokas, Sri Vādirājaru explains how the day and month to be calculated.
aj~nAtavAso.atIta iti vadatAM bhImAdInAM nAtIta iti vadatAM duryodhanAdInAM chAbhiprAyamAha saureti | ravisaN^kramAtsaN^kramAvadhiH sauramAsaH | paurNamAsItaH paurNamAsItparyantaM chAndramAsaH | darshAddarshnAvadhiH pitR^imAsaH | tatra chAndramAse pitR^imAse cha paJNcha paJNcha varShasamAptau ekaiko.adhikamAso.asti | evaM cha dashavarSheShu dvau mAsAvadhikau | tAbhyAM mAsAbhyAM saha gaNanAyAM "dvAdasha mAsAH samvatsaraH" iti vachanAt.h | dvAdasha dvAdasha mAsAnAmekaikaH saMvatsaraH iti saN^khyAyAM trayodasha varShAtyAtItAni | punashcha katipayadinAnyadhikAni cha jAtAnIti bhAvo bhIshhmAdInAm.h | sauramAse tu saN^kramaNAntare vA keShuchinmAseShu ekatriMshaddinAni dvAtriMshaddinAni cha kalpayitvA adhikamAsamantarbhAvayanti | tena trayodasha varShANAM kiJNchidadhikamAsadvayaM nyUnamiti karNAdInAM bhAvaH | godAvaryAH daxiNe tIre uttare tIre cha chAndrapaitR^imAsarItyA pravartanAt.h | svadeshAchAramajAnAnAH kauravA eva mUDhA iti bhAvaH || 23.54 ||
prakArAntareNApi kauravA eva mUDhA ityAha dinAnAmadhipa iti sUryodayamArabhya sUrodayaparyantamekaikaM dinaM bhavati | ataH dinAnAmadhipaH sUrya eva | chandrodayastu rAtrau bhavan.h ahnyantya niyamena bhavan.h dinasaN^khyAyai nAlam.h | ataH sUrya eva dinAnAmadhipa iti bhAvaH | paxastu chAndramAnarItyA pUrva paurNa mAsAmArabhya amAvAsyA paryantamekaH paxaH | sa kR^iShNa paxa ityuchyate | amAvAsyAmArabhya punaH paurNamAsI paryantamaparaH paxaH | sa shukla paxa ityuchyate | ataH paxAdhipaH mAsAdhipaH abdAdhipashchandra eva | yAj~nikAnAM yatInAM cha sarva desheShvapi saumya mAsenaiva pravartanAt.h sa eva mAso.abdashcha shlAghyAH | ata eva mAsapUrteravadhidinatvAt.h paurNamAsItyAhuriti sarvamavadAtam.h || 23.55 || 23.56 ||
By saying that period of disguise is complete by Bhīma and others; by saying it is not complete by Duryodhana and others, it is explained. From one Sankramana to another Sankramana it is called Sauramāsa. From one Paurnima to another Paurnima it is called Chāndramāsa. From one Darsha (Amāvāsya) to another Darsha it is called Pitrumāsa. Here, in both Chāndramāsa and Pitrumāsa there will be one extra month (Adhikamāsa) for every five years. Like that in 10 years there are two extra months. There is saying that "12 months makes an year". By counting 12 months for a year, the thirteen years are complete. But in Souramāsa from one Sankramana to another sometimes there will be 31 days and also 32 days. This extra day will compensate for the Adhikamāsa. Karna and others say that Pāndavā-s have short by two months and portion of therof from thirteen years. On both north and south parts of Godāvari river people follow Chāndra/Pitru Māsa. One should follow the system in place in that particular land. Withought knowing this kouravā-s are fools.
From a different analysis also Kouravā-s are fools. From sun raise to sun raise, it is considered one day. So the reference (Lord) for the day is Sūrya only. Since moon raise may change and even can happen in the mid night or mid day and is not of a uniform duration. For calculating fortnight (Paxa), from previous Pournima to Amāvāsya it is one Paxa. It is Krishna Paxa. From Amāvāsya to Pournima it is another Paxa. It is Shukla Paxa. So the reference (Lord) for Paxa (fortnight), Māsa (month) and Varsha (year) is Chandra only. For performing yajna and for Sanyāsi-s only Chāndramāsa should be considered at all the places. Therefore by counting months the time period is complete hence said "paurNamAsIti".
There are some common procedures to be followed on all the festivals, unless otherwise specified differently. These include - getting up early in the morning brush the teeth and wash face/legs. After performing namaskara to the Lord, one should water the Tulasi in the Vrindāvana and other plants. It is customary to recite Gajendra moxa during this time every day. After that front of house should be cleaned, if possible, with water and cow dung, or atleast with the water alone. Decorating the front of house and the Puja room with the stone powder (rangoli) and red mud. The front door and Puja room door should be decorated with fresh mango leaves, called Torana.
On the festival day one should keep oil and hot water in front of God and do Mangalarati to Lord. Then use the oil and hot water to have the oil bath. After oil bath the head of the family worships the God and have Brahmana bhojana etc. Usually for doing Puja, the person has to have cold water bath. Taking bath in river is the highest preference, if not then in lake or well or even atleast the stored water. If one is unable to take the cold water bath, the least they can do is first pour the cold water to a container, then mix the hot water and then again pour the cold water. By doing this way, they get little Punya of doing cold water bath. While taking bath, the mixture of Āmalaka (Nellikāyi), Tila, Tulasi stem powder, cow-dung and mud should be applied to the head. On the day of Ugādi and Naraka Chaturdashi, however, cold bath should not be taken.
Eleventh day of every Paxa is called Ekādashi. On this day every one should fast. Those below 8 years and above 80 years, also those who are fallen ill can take some food in the form of fruits and milk etc. But at any cost avoid eating meals. This day is called Harivāsara. On this day one should praise the Lord with stotra and Devara Nāma. It is best to do the Jāgarane, that is, doing Hari Bhajane through out the night. This is called Harivāna Seve. The next day is Dvādashi and on this day everyone should have Pārane (taking meals) early in the morning after Puja. There are times when the Ekādashi can start on the Dashami night itself or could even be present for some time on Dvādashi morning also. This is called Harivāsara. When there is a Harivāsara on Dashami night, food should be taken much before the time of start of Harivāsara. Also if there is Harivāsara on Dvādashi morning, naivedya to Lord should be done after that period and then have the meals. There can also be days where the Dvādashi is very short. It is called Sādhani Dvādashi. On this day food should be taken before the specified time.
There are several Vrata that could be performed by the interested people. Among them here are the most popular Vratas.
Vishnupanchaka Vrata : This vrata can be performed by both men and women. This vrata is performed to please Lord Vishnu and also to get again Vaishnava janma for the next birth. This Vrata should be started on Dashami of either Bhādrapada or Mārgashīrsha by performing Punyāhavāchana. This Vrata shouls be performed for 60 days in an year. This Vrata can be performed for a duration of one year, five year or ten years. For this Vrata, one should fast completely 5 days in a month. These are two Ekādashi, Pournima, Amāvāsya and the day of Shravana naxatra. If due to reasons like Vedhā etc, if it is specified as Vrata Abhāva, then there is no need do Upavāsa. On the other hand, if Upavāsa could not be performed due to illness etc, then the same should be performed in the next year.
The next day of fasting they should invite deserved Brahmin couple and do
Tīrtha Prasāda. After completing the
desired period, they should do Udyāpane.
This includes doing special Puja on the next day of the last fasting day and
inviting serveral Brahmin couple for Tīrtha Prāsada.
Also the invitees should be honoured with clothes, Daxine and other silver
items. By doing this Vrata, Lord Vishnu will be pleased and remove sins
committed knowingly or unknowingly and grant the next janma also a Vaishnava
Those who have the Adhikāra to give Tarpana can follow these rituals also. Tarpana should be given on 96 days in a year. This is called Shannavati. Sri Jagannāthadāsaru has explained the importance of Shannavati in Pitruganasandhi of Sri Harihathāmrutasāra
shaNnavati nAmadali karesuta
tannavaru sadbhaktipUrvakadimda mADutiha ||
puNya karmava svIkarisi kA-
ruNyasAgara salahuvanu bra-
hmaNyadEva bhavAbdipOta bahuprakAradali || 14.9 ||
The 96 days includes --
This totals to 96 days. Apart from the above days, Tarpana should also be given on Grahana day and a special day called Arthodaya/Mahodaya. In the month of Pushya or Māgha (1), if the Amaavaasya(2) falls on Sunday(3), the Naxatra is Shravana(4) and the Yoga is Vaidhruti(5) then it is called Ardhodaya. If any one of the (3) or (4) or (5) is missing, then it is called Mahodaya.
If more than one event falls on the same day, then the importance is given to the rare occurance and the Sankalpa is performed to the higest important event. The preference in the increased order is Amāvāsya, Uttarāyana/Daxināyana, Grahana, Ardhodaya/Mahodaya. For ex. if either Uttarāyana or Daxināyana falls on Amāvāsya, then sankalpa should be performed for the latter. On that day if there is a Grahana, then sankalpa should be for Grahana. If it happens to be Ardhodaya/Mahodaya, then the sankalpa should be for Ardhodaya/Mahodaya. On a single day Tarpana should not be given for more than one occasion.
If anyone of the above mentioned (96) days falls on Ekādashi, then Tarpana should not be given. Instead Pavamāna Sūkta should be recited.
Ther can extra month in Chandra Mana as stated above. During this extra month, performing deeds which are favourable to Lord Vishnu is considered to bring lot of Punya. One can do the following Vrata during Adhika Māsa.
Adhika Māsa : The extra month is supposed to appear for every 33 months and hence the figure 33 has a special significance. It is customary to give Dāna of 33 Apūpas during this month. While giving Apūpa Dāna the giver has to think (Anusandhāna) that he is giving the Land as Dāna. Dāna should be given uttering the following Mantra.
viShNurUpI sahasrAmshuH sarvapApapraNAshanaH |
apUpAnnapradAnena mama pApaM vyapohatu ||
nArAyaNa jagadbIja bhAskara pratirUpadhR^it.h |
vratenAnena putrAmshcha sampadaM chAbhivardhaya ||
yasta haste gadAchakre garuDo yasya vAhanam.h |
shaN^khaH karatale yasya sa me viShNuH prasIdatu ||
kalAkAShThAdirUpeNa nimeShaghaTikAdinA |
yo vaJNchayati bhUtAni tasmai kAlAtmane namaH ||
kuruxetramayo deshaH kAlaH parvadvijo hariH |
pR^ithvIsamamidaM dAnaM gR^ihANa puruShottama ||
malAnAM cha vishudhyarthaM pApaprashamanAya cha |
putrapautrAbhivR^iddyarthaM tena dAsyAmi bhAskara ||
viShNuM jiShNuM mahAviShNuM hariM kR^iShNamadhoxajam.h |
keshavaM mAdhavaM rAmamachyutaM puruShottamam.h ||
govindaM vAmanM shrIshaM shrIkaN^ThaM vishvasAxiNam.h |
nAyAyaNaM madhuripumaniruddhaM trivikramam.h ||
vAsudevaM jagadyonimanantaM sheShashAyinam.h |
saN^karShaNaM cha pradyumnaM daityAriM vishvato mukham.h ||
janArdhanaM dharAvAsaM dAmodaramaghArdhanam.h |
shrIpatiM cha trayastrimshaduddishya pratinAmabhiH ||
mantrairetaishcha yo dadyAt.h trayamstrishadapUrvakam.h |
prApnoti viphulAM laxmIM putrapautrAdisantatim.h ||
The Apūpa should be fried in Ghee and should be placed in a silver or brass place. It should be covered with similar plate on the top. After performing special Puja on that day, Brahmin couple, to whom the Dāna is to be given are invited. Those couple also should be worshipped with the Anusandhāna that Laxmi Nārāyana are reciding in them. Along with Apūpa, 33 beetle nuts and 33 leaves and 33 Daxine should be offerred. By giving Apūpa Dāna one gets the blessings of Santānābhivruddi.
If one is unable to give 33 Apūpa Dāna, he/she has to borrow atleast one Apūpa from another person and break it into 33 pieces and give as Dāna. Some people also use dates (Karjura) instead of Apūpa.
Performing Parāyana that is reciting Grantas also said to obtain Punya. Granthas like Sarvamula, Mahābhārata, Bhāgavata, Bhagavat Gīta etc should be recited during this month.
There are different rituals to be performed on different months. The corresponding Māsa Dharma in indicated in each month.
There is an attempt, in the following sections, to include all the rituals and the festivals to be followed in each month. And also highlight the important days like Punya dina of famous Dvaita saints and Haridāsas.
This page was created on 12 Feb 2002. Last modified October 23, 2004.