Article

Calendar

Klaus Klostermaier

in Hinduism

ISBN: 9780195399318
Published online March 2015 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0149
Calendar

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The Indian name of the Hindu calendar is Pañcāngam (“five limbs”). It is of utmost practical importance for Hindus to determine the right time for the performance of vratas (vows) and the celebration of utsavas (feasts) and in order to find the proper times for religious rituals, upanayana (initiation), and marriage. The traditional Hindu calendar is lunar-solar. While the months (māsa) are defined by the moon-cycles, the beginning of the year (varşa) is fixed by either the solar spring––or fall––equinox. The difference between the year of twelve lunar months and the solar year (amounting to roughly 10.87 days every year) is made up by inserting an intercalary month every third year: the so-called ādhika māsa (additional month). At the time of India’s independence in 1947 about thirty different calendars were in use in India. To eliminate the confusion caused by the great variety of traditional calendars and to correlate the Indian calendar with the Gregorian, the government of India established in 1952 a Calendar Commission, which recommended the introduction of a “Reformed Indian Calendar,” valid for the whole of India for official purposes. It became effective with the spring equinox, 22 March 1957, which became New Year’s Day: Chaitra 1, 1879 Śaka era. The Reformed Indian Calendar unlinks the Indian months (whose old names have been preserved) from the moon phases and approximates the length of each month to those of the Gregorian calendar. In light of the great practical importance of the issue, a great many works deal with the calendar or some of its parts.

Article.  6110 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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