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Amāvásyā (Sanskrit : अमावस्या) is the lunar phase of the new moon in Sanskrit. Indian calendars use 30 lunar phases, called tithi in India. [1] [2] The dark moon tithi is when the Moon is within 12 degrees of the angular distance between the Sun and Moon before conjunction (syzygy). [3] The New Moon tithi (called Pratipada or Prathama) is the 12 angular degrees after syzygy. Amāvásyā is often translated as new moon since there is no standard term for the Moon before conjunction in English.


Amavasya and Prathama tithi Amavasya and Prathama tithi.jpg
Amavasya and Prathama tithi

Meaning of Amāvásyā

In Sanskrit, "amā" means "together" and "vásya" means "to dwell" or "cohabit". It also means "na" +"ma"+"asya" meaning to "na" = "No, "ma"=Moon, "Asya"="There" in turn meaning to There is no Moon i.e., Moon is not visible.

In the pūrṇimānta māna Hindu lunar calendar used in most parts of the Indian subcontinent, the lunar month starts on the day following the full moon or purnima and therefore Amāvásyā always falls in the middle of the month. However, in the amānta māna calendar used in some places, the lunar month starts on the day of the new moon, making Amāvásyā the last day of the lunar month in those places. Many festivals, the most famous being Diwali (the festival of lights), are observed on Amāvásyā. Many Hindus fast on Amāvásyā.

Few Pancha-Gauda Brahmins have month from next day of Purnima (day) to Purnima (day), that is Purnima is last 29/30 days (Purnimanta). Pancha-Dravida have month from next day of Amavasya to Amavasya . Amavasya is last 29/30 days (Amanta). Śhukla paksha is called as the bright half as the Moon changes from New Moon to Full Moon while in Krishna paksha it changes from Full Moon to New Moon. Hence it is seen that same Amavasya has same festival all over the country. Ujjain, Allahabad, Orissa, Bihar Brahmins are one few Pancha-Gauda Brahmins have month from 1 day after Purnima (day) to Purnima (day)(Purnimanta), While the people of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh the Pancha-Dravida have month from 1 day after Amavasya to Amavasya. Amavasya is last 29/30 days (Amanta). Since Kanchipuram Mutt where the Adi Shankara lived and all the Pancha-Gauda and Pancha-Dravida use to visit hence Tamil Nadu developed a mixture of Panchangam and saka calendar. Similarly the place where Pancha-Gauda and Pancha-Dravida are living together as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Southern Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh also show the mixtures. Also the people following Jainism follow Pancha-Dravida calendar, Amavasya is last 29/30 days.[ clarification needed ]

In old Indian culture and beliefs, irrespective of religions, Amavasya is considered a time of great power. In Tamil, though Amavasai is commonly used in religious spheres, the pure Tamil scholars prefer the term Puthuppi Rai [4] Fast is observed to propitiate both the Sun and Moon Gods. [5]

Festive Amavasya

Tradition and Belief

Amavasya Somavati

Somvati Amavasya Vrat (somvtii amaavsyaa vrt ) Somvati Amavasya Vrat (somvtii amaavsyaa vrt ).jpg
Somvati Amavasya Vrat (सोमवती अमावस्या व्रत )

An Amavasya falling on Mondays has a special significance. It is believed that a fast on this particular Amavasya would ward off widow-hood in women and ensure bearing of progeny. It is also believed that all desires could be fulfilled if one fasts on this Amavasya. [6]

Worship of Forefathers (Pitra)

Every month, the Amāvāsyā day is considered auspicious for the worship of forefathers and poojas are made. Religious people are not supposed to travel or work, and instead concentrate on the rites of Amavasyas, typically at home in the afternoon. Even today, traditional workers like masons do not work on Amavasya in India. However, they will work on Saturdays and Sundays. Even High Court judges of 18th century India used to observe Amavasya as a day off. It was the British Rule that brought the Christian Sunday-off principle to Indian industry.

On Amavasyas, Shraadh is done to forefathers by Brahmins whose fathers have died. In modern times, a short 20-minute version of the ceremony is done—offering black sesame and water as oblation to departed souls. This oblation is offered to father, grandfather, great-grandfather, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. If one of these persons are still alive, their name is skipped and the corresponding earlier generation person is offered oblation. Then a final oblation is offered to those anonymous souls which died and have nobody in their lineage offering oblation. These oblations are believed to give birth to good children without mental or physical challenges.

The dark fortnight of Aswayuja (September–October) is known as the Pitru Paksha (Mahalaya), which is especially sacred for offering oblations to departed ancestors. The last day of this period, the dark moon day, called mahalaya Amavasya, is considered the most important day in the year for performing obsequies and rites. The manes return to their abode on the evening of Deepavali. Due to the grace of the Yama, it has been ordained that offerings made during this period benefit all the departed souls, whether they are connected to you or not.


In Tamil Nadu, lakhs of People will make special Tharpanam (Oblation) in Rameshwaram & other Holy Theerthas on Thai Amavasai, Aadi Amavasai, Mahalaya Amavasai. Thai Amavasai comes in the month of Jan-Feb and is the 1st Amavasai after Uttranayana Punya Kaalam (Northern Journey of Sun). Aadi Amavasai comes in the month of Jul-Aug and is the 1st Amavasai after Dakshinayanam Punya Kaalam (Southern Journey of Sun). Pitru Paksh Mahalaya Amavasai comes during Navratri [7]

Related Research Articles

The Hindu calendar, Panchanga or Panjika is one of various lunisolar calendars that are traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, with further regional variations for social and Hindu religious purposes. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping based on sidereal year for solar cycle and adjustment of lunar cycles in every three years, however also differ in their relative emphasis to moon cycle or the sun cycle and the names of months and when they consider the New Year to start. Of the various regional calendars, the most studied and known Hindu calendars are the Shalivahana Shaka found in the Deccan region of Southern India, Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) found in Nepal, North and Central regions of India – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle. Their new year starts in spring. In regions such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Tamil Calendar and Malayalam calendar and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Hindu calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchangam (पञ्चाङ्ग), which is known also known as Panjika in Eastern India.

Panchangam Traditional Hindu calendar

A panchāngam is a Hindu calendar and almanac, which follows traditional units of Hindu timekeeping, and presents important dates and their calculations in a tabulated form. It is sometimes spelled Panchāngamu, Pancanga, Panchanga, Panchaanga, or Panchānga, and is often pronounced Panchāng. Panchangas are used in Jyotisha.

Jyeshtha (month) 3rd month of the Hindu calendar

Jyeshtha or Jyēṣṭha is a month of the Hindu calendar. In India's national civil calendar, Jyestha is the third month of the year. Known as Joishtho in Bengali, it is the second month of the Bengali calendar.

Ashadha 4th month of the Hindu calendar

Ashadha or Aashaadha or Aadi is a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds to June/July in the Gregorian calendar. In India's national civil calendar, this month is the fourth month of the year, beginning on 22 June and ending on 22 July. In Vedic Jyotish, Āsāṛh begins with the Sun's entry into Gemini. It is the first of the two months that comprise the monsoon season.

Shraavana 5th month of the Hindu calendar

Śrāvaṇa is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar. In India's national civil calendar, Śrāvaṇa is the fifth month of the Hindu year, beginning in late July from the first day of the full moon and ending in the third week of August, the day of the next full moon. In the Tamil calendar, it is known as Āvani and is the fifth month of the solar year. In lunar religious calendars, Śrāvaṇa begins on the new moon and is the fourth month of the year. Srabon is the fourth month of the Bengali calendar. It is also the fourth month of the Nepali calendar. This is also the second month of Varsha (rainy) season.

Bhadra (Hindu calendar) 6th month of the Hindu calendar

Bhadra or Bhadrapada or Bhādo or Bhadraba is a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds to August/September in the Gregorian calendar. In India's national civil calendar, Bhadra is the sixth month of the year, beginning on 23 August and ending on 22 September. In Vedic Jyotish, Bhadra begins with the Sun's entry into Leo, and is usually the fifth month of the year.

Vikram Samvat or Bikram Sambat and also known as the Vikrami calendar, is the historical Hindu calendar used in the Indian subcontinent. It is the official calendar of Nepal. In India, it is used in several states. The traditional Vikram Samvat calendar, as used in India, uses lunar months and solar sidereal years. The Nepali Bikram Sambat introduced in 1901 AD, also uses a solar sidereal year.

Sharad Purnima

Sharad Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin, marking the end of the monsoon season. On this auspicious day, many divine pairs like Radha Krishna, Shiva Parvati, and Lakshmi Narayan are worshipped along with the moon and are offered flowers and kheer. Deities in temples are usually dressed in white color signifying the brightness of moon. Many people observe full day fasting on this day.

Chaturthi, is the fourth day (Tithi) of both waxing and waning phase of any Lunar month in the Hindu calendar.

Śrāddha Sanskrit term for an act performed with faith (śraddhā)

Śrāddha is a Sanskrit word which literally means anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and absolute faith in it. In the Hindu religion, it is the ritual that one performs to pay homage to one's 'ancestors', especially to one's dead parents. Conceptually, it is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace. It also can be thought of as a "day of remembrance". It is performed for both the father and mother separately, on their respective 'thithi' – death anniversaries as per the Hindu Calendar. In addition it is performed for the entire community of 'pitr' – both from paternal and maternal side – collectively during the Pitru Paksha or Shraaddha paksha, right before Sharad Navaratri in autumn.

Upākarma "Beginning", also called Āvaṇi Aviṭṭam, Āvaṇi Aviṭṭam, Janivārada Huṇṇime, Gahmā Pūrṇimā, Jaṁdhyāla Paurṇami is a Vedic ritual practiced by Hindus of the Brahmin caste. This ritual is also practiced by the Kshatriya and Vaishya,(VISHWAKARMA)[ [Varna community, who are dvijas and therefore have the rights to do Sandhyavandanam, the daily prayer offered to sun god thrice a day.

Paksha , thwa and gа̄ in Nepal Bhasa, refers to a fortnight or a lunar phase in a month of the Hindu lunar calendar.

Naraka Chaturdashi Hindu festival

Narak Chaturdashi is a Hindu festival, which falls on Chaturdashi of the Krishna Paksha in the Shalivahan Shak Hindu calendar month of Kartik. It is the second day of the five-day-long festival of Deepavali/Diwali. The Hindu literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasur was killed on this day by Krishna and Satyabhama. The day is celebrated by early morning religious rituals and festivities follow on.

In the Hindu calendar, Chaturdashi is the 14th day (Tithi) of the waxing phase or waning phase of the moon. This is the day prior to new moon (Amavasya) or full moon (Pournami). It has a great significance to Bengalis, as goddess Tara appeared to rishi vasistha on this tithi.

Pitru Paksha 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar for ancestral worship

Pitru Paksha is a 16–lunar day period in Hindu calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. The period is also known as Pitri Paksha/Pitr-Paksha, Pitri Pokkho, Sorah Shraddha, Kanagat, Jitiya, Mahalaya, Apara Paksha and akhadpak.

Dwadashi is the twelfth lunar day (Tithi) of the shukla (bright) or krishna (dark) fortnight, or Paksha, of every lunar month in the Hindu calendar.

Pūrṇimā is the word for full moon in Sanskrit. The day of Purnima is the day (Tithi) in each month when the full moon occurs, and marks the division in each month between the two lunar fortnights (paksha), and the Moon is aligned exactly in a straight line, called a syzygy, with the Sun and Earth. Full moon is considered the third of the four primary phases of the Moon; the other three phases are new moon, first quarter moon, and third quarter moon. The full moon shows 100% illumination, causes high tides, and can concur with lunar eclipses.

Here is a list of glossary of Culture of India in alphabetical order:

Astronomical basis of the Hindu calendar Applied astronomy of ancient India

The Hindu calendar is based on a geocentric model of the solar system. A geocentric model describes the solar system as seen by an observer on the surface of the earth.


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