The Sanatan Dharm or Hindu Religion is one of the oldest Religions of the world. Being one of the oldest Religion it has one of the oldest Date System of the world too. However, there is another fact that is so astonishing. There is a Cultural diversity of Hindu Religion and also Diversity in Date Systems.
Would you believe that there were as much as 30 date systems prevalent in India in different parts of the country?
So there is general query among most people who ask that How Hindu calendar Works?
There is also the question why there are so many date systems in India and which calendar system is correct? People usually ask how many days are there in the Hindu Calendar System?
These are the basic questions which ponder the mind of most people in India. We have tries to answer these questions and clarify doubts regarding how Hindu Calendar Works and other related questions.
How Hindu Calendar Works – Hindu Calendar System
Hindu Civilization is one of the oldest civilization and like other old civilizations, it follows the lunar cycle to mark its calendar system. So Hindus follow the moon as other agricultural societies did in ancient times. As far as the lunar cycle is concerned it is between 28 days to 31 days. A lunar month consists of ‘bright’ fortnight as well as ‘dark’ fortnight which marks the waxing period of the moon as well as waning period of the moon. In the lunar cycle, a year has 354 days, 8 hours and 34.28 seconds.
The Hindu Civilization was a well-developed Civilization and like other developed civilization, it was well aware of other heavenly bodies and date systems such as Sun, Venus, and Jupiter. The most prevalent of them is based on the Solar Cycle and follows Sun date system. So Hindus were well aware of Solar Date System and their Solar Year started at the Spring Equinox and the Solar Year consisted of 365 days, 6 hours and 9.54 seconds.
The two cycles of Solar and Lunar in nature coincides in a number of years. For practical purposes, Hindus have added an “extra” month in every three years to bring these two cycles together. This happens when 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes and 2.865 seconds have accumulated between these cycles of Solar Cycle and Lunar Cycle.
An extra month brings these two Calendar Systems into synch. The timing of adding the extra month depends on the lunar cycle. Actually, this needs a little explanation. Usually, Sun migrates into a new zodiac each month. When Sun does not migrate into a new zodiac and remains in the same sign for two consecutive months then that month is taken as the ‘extra’ month. It is known as the Adhik Maas. It is also known as “Purshottam” Maas.
Talking of the Western Calendar, it is essentially a Solar Calendar System in which a month alternates between 30 and 31 days and a day is added every 4th year to regulate the Calendar.
The Hindu New Years
As mentioned earlier in this post, there are actually various Calendar Systems in the Hindu calendar, however officially there are two Calendar Systems which are now recognized. These are known as Vikram Samvat and Shaka Samvat.
In the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar System, the New Year starts on the Deepavali date (Oct- Nov) which also marks the crowning of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain in 56BC. The other Hindu Calendar System marks the crowning of Shalivahan King in 78 AD. According to this Hindu Calendar System, the New Year is started on the date of Gudi Padwa (in the month of March – April).
In addition, to these officially recognized Hindu New Year Calendar Systems there are many other Calendar Systems which exist in our culturally diverse society of India. There are different Cultural Markers which decide the Hindu New Year in our culturally diverse Societies and geographically big society.
There are communities who use astronomical events as their New Year in the Hindu Religion. For example, the day of Makar Sankranti (14 Jan – 15 Jan) marks the New Year in the Southern India. On this day, Sun enters the sign of Capricorn and this day is celebrated as ‘Pongal’ which is New Year in Southern India.
Like cultural markers, there are strong “natural markers” which mark Hindu New Year in India. Some of these examples are Vasant Panchami, Pongal, Bali Pratipada, and Baisakhi, which are also celebrated as New Year in different communities in different parts of India.
Officially Shaka Samvat is considered as the Hindu New Year by the Indian Government. While Bali Pratipada, which is known as Gudi Padvo, which signals the start of summer, is considered as the New Year in the Western part of India.
Besides the above Hindu New Years, there are new years in Hindu Culture based on Communities. For example, Brahmins celebrate Guru Poonam as New Year. Then there are Kshtriyas, who celebrate Dussehra as their New Year. Vaishyas Community considers Diwali as their New Year while Sudras celebrate Holi as their New Year in the Hindu Calendar System.
So, The Hindu Calendar System and their New Years is our Cultural Heritage, which is the result of our Ancient Civilization. The Hindu Cultural Diversity gives us the opportunity to regard natural, cultural and community’s markers as New Year and consider Life as a Celebration and rejoice the name of the God by way of Hindu Calendar System.