|English||Calendar of the Lord Buddha|
(IPA: [θàðənà θɛʔkəɹɪʔ] )
(Pinyin: Fú lì)
(rōmaji: Butsumetsu kigen)
(patithin phudthasasa na)
|Sinhala||බුද්ධ වර්ෂ / සාසන වර්ෂ|
(Buddha Varsha / Sāsana Varsha)
|Glossary of Buddhism|
|Part of a series on|
The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendars primarily used in mainland Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka and Chinese populations of Malaysia and Singapore for religious or official occasions. While the calendars share a common lineage, they also have minor but important variations such as intercalation schedules, month names and numbering, use of cycles, etc. In Thailand, the name Buddhist Era is a year numbering system shared by the traditional Thai lunisolar calendar and by the Thai solar calendar.
The Southeast Asian lunisolar calendars are largely based on an older version of the Hindu calendar,which uses the sidereal year as the solar year. One major difference is that the Southeast Asian systems, unlike their Indian cousins, do not use apparent reckoning to stay in sync with the sidereal year. Instead, they employ their versions of the Metonic cycle. However, since the Metonic cycle is not very accurate for sidereal years, the Southeast Asian calendar is slowly drifting out of sync with the sidereal, approximately one day every 100 years. Yet no coordinated structural reforms of the lunisolar calendar have been undertaken.
Today, the traditional Buddhist lunisolar calendar is used mainly for Theravada Buddhist festivals, and no longer has the official calendar status anywhere. The Thai Buddhist Era, a renumbered Gregorian calendar, is the official calendar in Thailand.
The calculation methodology of the current versions of Southeast Asian Buddhist calendars is largely based on that of the Burmese calendar, which was in use in various Southeast Asian kingdoms down to the 19th century under the names of Chula Sakarat and Jolak Sakaraj. The Burmese calendar in turn was based on the "original" Surya Siddhanta system of ancient India (believed to be Ardharatrika school).One key difference with Indian systems is that the Burmese system has followed a variation of the Metonic cycle. It is unclear from where, when or how the Metonic system was introduced; hypotheses range from China to Europe. The Burmese system, and indeed the Southeast Asian systems, thus use a "strange" combination of sidereal years from Indian calendar in combination with the Metonic cycle better for tropical years.
In all Theravada traditions, the calendar's epochal year 0 date was the day in which the Buddha attained parinibbāna . However, not all traditions agree on when it actually took place. In Burmese Buddhist tradition, it was 13 May 544 BCE (Tuesday, Full moon of Kason 148 Anjanasakaraj).But in Thailand, it was 11 March 545 BCE, the date which the current Thai lunisolar and solar calendars use as the epochal date. Yet, the Thai calendars for some reason have fixed the difference between their Buddhist Era (BE) numbering and the Christian/Common Era (CE) numbering at 543, which points to an epochal year of 544 BCE, not 545 BCE. In Myanmar, the difference between BE and CE can be 543 or 544 for CE dates, and 544 or 543 for BCE dates, depending on the month of the Buddhist Era (as the Buddhist calendar straddles the Gregorian calendar—currently from April to April).
|543||1 BCE – 1 CE|
|544||1–2 CE||1–2 CE|
The calendar recognizes two types of months: synodic month and sidereal month.The Synodic months are used to compose the years while the 27 lunar sidereal days (Sanskrit: nakshatra ), alongside the 12 signs of the zodiac, are used for astrological calculations. (The Burmese calendar also recognizes a solar month called Thuriya Matha, which is defined as 1/12th of a year. But the solar month varies by the type of year such as tropical year, sidereal year, etc.)
The days of the month are counted in two halves, waxing and waning. The 15th of the waxing is the civil full moon day. The civil new moon day is the last day of the month (14th or 15th waning). Because of the inaccuracy of the calendrical calculation systems, the mean and real (true) New Moons rarely coincide. The mean New Moon often precedes the real New Moon.
|Waxing||1 to 15||from New Moon to Full Moon|
|Full Moon||15||Full Moon|
|Waning||1 to 14 or 15||from Full Moon to New Moon|
|New Moon||15||New Moon|
As the Synodic lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, the calendar uses alternating months of 29 and 30 days.
|Chaitra||Citta||Tagu (တန်ခူး)||Chaet (ចេត្រ)||ຈິຕ||Bak (බක්)||Chittra (จิตร)||29||March–April|
|Vaisākha||Visakha||Kason (ကဆုန်)||Pisak (ពិសាខ)||ວິສາຂະ||Vesak (වෙසක්)||Wisakha (วิสาข)||30||April–May|
|Jyaiṣṭha||Jeṭṭha||Nayon (နယုန်)||Ches (ជេស្ឋ)||ເຊດ||Poson (පොසොන්)||Chettha (เชษฐ)||29 ||May–June|
|Āṣāḍha||Āsāḷha||Waso (ဝါဆို)||Asat (អាសាឍ)||ອາສາລະຫະ||Æsala (ඇසළ)||Asanha (อาสาฬห)||30||June–July|
|Śrāvaṇa||Sāvaṇa||Wagaung (ဝါခေါင်)||Srap (ស្រាពណ៍)||ສາວະນະ||Nikini (නිකිණි)||Sawana (สาวน)||29||July–August|
|Bhādrapada or Proshthapada||Poṭṭhapāda||Tawthalin (တော်သလင်း)||Phottrobot (ភទ្របទ)||ພັດທະຣະບົດ||Binara (බිනර)||Phatthrabot (ภัทรบท)||30||August–September|
|Āśvina||Assayuja||Thadingyut (သီတင်းကျွတ်)||Assoch (អស្សុជ)||ອັດສະວະຍຸດ||Wap (වප්)||Atsawayut (อัศวยุช)||29||September–October|
|Kārttika||Kattikā||Tazaungmon (တန်ဆောင်မုန်း)||Katdeuk (កត្តិក)||ກັດຕິກາ||Il (ඉල්)||Kattika (กัตติกา)||30||October–November|
|Mārgaśirṣa||Māgasira||Nadaw (နတ်တော်)||Meukesae (មិគសិរ)||ມິຄະສິນ||Undhuvap (උඳුවප්)||Mikkhasira (มิคสิร)||29||November–December|
|Pauṣa||Phussa||Pyatho (ပြာသို)||Boss (បុស្ស)||ປຸສສ||Dhuruthu (දුරුතු)||Putsa (ปุสส)||30||December–January|
|Māgha||Māgha||Tabodwe (တပို့တွဲ)||Meak (មាឃ)||ມາດ||Navam (නවම්)||Makha (มาฆ)||29||January–February|
|Phālguna||Phagguṇa||Tabaung (တပေါင်း)||Phalkun (ផល្គុន)||ຜັກຄຸນ||Mædhin (මැදින්)||Phakkhun (ผัคคุณ)||30||February–March|
Various regional versions of Chula Sakarat/Burmese calendar existed across various regions of mainland Southeast Asia. Unlike Burmese systems, Kengtung, Lan Na, Lan Xang and Sukhothai systems refer to the months by numbers, not by names. This means reading ancient texts and inscriptions in Thailand requires constant vigilance, not just in making sure one is correctly operating for the correct region, but also for variations within regions itself when incursions cause a variation in practice.
|Month||Khmer, Lan Xang, Sukhothai and Old Burmese||Kengtung||Chiang Mai|
The Buddhist calendar is a lunisolar calendar in which the months are based on lunar months and years are based on solar years. One of its primary objectives is to synchronize the lunar part with the solar part. The lunar months, normally twelve of them, consist alternately of 29 days and 30 days, such that a normal lunar year will contain 354 days, as opposed to the solar year of ~365.25 days. Therefore, some form of addition to the lunar year (of intercalation) is necessary. The overall basis for it is provided by cycles of 57 years. Eleven extra days are inserted in every 57 years, and seven extra months of 30 days are inserted in every 19 years (21 months in 57 years). This provides 20819 complete days to both calendars.This 57-year cycle would provide a mean year of about 365.2456 days and a mean month of about 29.530496 days, if not corrected.
As such, the calendar adds an intercalary month in leap years and sometimes also an intercalary day in great leap years. The intercalary month not only corrects the length of the year but also corrects the accumulating error of the month to extent of half a day. The average length of the month is further corrected by adding a day to Nayon at irregular intervals—a little more than seven times in two cycles (39 years). The intercalary day is never inserted except in a year which has an intercalary month.The Hindu calendar inserts an intercalary month at any time of year as soon as the accumulated fractions amount to one month. The Burmese calendar however always inserts the intercalary month at the same time of the year, after the summer solstice while the Arakanese calendar inserts it after the vernal equinox.
The actual Burmese calendar year consists of 354, 384 or 385 days.
|Month||Regular year||Small leap year||Big leap year|
Note: The Arakanese calendar adds the intercalary day in Tagu, not in Nayon.
The Cambodian, Lao and Thai lunisolar calendars use a slightly different method to place the intercalary day. Instead of it in a leap year as in the Burmese system, the Thai system places it in a separate year. Thus, the Thai small leap year has 355 days while the Thai great leap year has 384 days.
|Month||Regular year||Small leap year||Big leap year|
Since the main purpose of Buddhist calendar is to keep pace with the solar year, the new year is always marked by the solar year, which falls at the time when the Sun enters Aries.The date, which at the present falls on the 17th of April, has slowly drifted over the centuries. In the 20th century, the New Year's Day fell on April 15 or 16th but in the 17th century, it fell on April 9 or 10th. Thailand and Cambodia no longer use the traditional lunisolar calendar to mark the New Year's Day.
|Tradition||Date in 2013||Notes|
|Burmese||17 April||Varies; will keep on drifting away|
|Khmer||14 April||Varies from 13th to 14th of April|
|Thai||13 April||Fixed to the solar calendar|
The Cambodian, Lao and Thai systems give animal names to the years from a cycle of 12.The practice also existed in Burma in the Pagan period but later died out.
|1||Rat||ជូត (Choot)||ຊວດ (Suat)||ชวด (Chuat)|
|2||Ox||ឆ្លូវ (Chhlov)||ສະຫລູ (Salu)||ฉลู (Chalu)|
|3||Tiger||ខាល (Khal)||ຂານ (Khan)||ขาล (Khan)|
|4||Rabbit||ថោះ (Thoh)||ເຖາະ (Tho)||เถาะ (Tho)|
|5||Naga||រោង (Rorng)||ມະໂລງ (Malong)||มะโรง (Marong)|
|6||Snake||ម្សាញ់ (Msanh)||ມະເສງ (Maseng)||มะเส็ง (Maseng)|
|7||Horse||មមី (Momee)||ມະເມັຽ (Mameh)||มะเมีย (Mamia)|
|8||Goat||មមែ (Momae)||ມະແມ (Mamae)||มะแม (Mamae)|
|9||Monkey||វក (Vork)||ວອກ (Wok)||วอก (Wok)|
|10||Rooster||រកា (Roka)||ລະກາ (Laka)||ระกา (Raka)|
|11||Dog||ច (Char)||ຈໍ (Cho)||จอ (Cho)|
|12||Pig||កុរ (Kol)||ກຸນ (Kun)||กุน (Kun)|
The Cambodian calendar also maintains a 10-year naming cycle (numbered one to ten). Cambodians use multiple systems to identify a given year. For instance, 2017 is identified as 2561 Buddhist Era, the year of Rooster, Nuppasak (Year 9). [ citation needed ]The Thai lunar calendar also uses a similar numbered 10-year cycle. Each number in the cycle corresponds to the last digit of the year in the Chula Sakarat calendar.
|Numbers||Names in Khmer||Khmer transliteration||Names in Thai||Thai transliteration|
The Southeast Asian Buddhist calendars use lunar months but try to keep pace with the solar year, by inserting intercalary months and days on the Metonic cycle (in the case of the Burmese calendar, on a modified Metonic cycle). However, the solar year as defined by the Buddhist calendars is really a sidereal year, which is nearly 24 minutes longer than the actual mean tropical year. Therefore, like all sidereal-based calendars, the lunisolar calendars are slowly drifting away from the seasons.The calendars are drifting one day approximately every 60 years and 4 months.
The accumulating drift against the seasons means the New Year's Day which used to fall on 22 March (near the vernal equinox) in 638 CE now falls on 17 April in 2013 CE. There is no known internationally concerted effort to stop this drift. Thailand has moved its "Buddhist Era" to the Gregorian calendar under the name of Thai solar calendar. In Myanmar, Burmese calendarists have tried to deal with the issue by periodically modifying the intercalation schedule in the Metonic cycle. One major downside of this approach is that it is not possible to publish future calendars more than a few years (often even a year) ahead.
The Buddhist Era was first introduced to Southeast Asia along with Buddhism in the early centuries CE. It was not a separate calendar but simply a year numbering system that employed the organization and calculation methods of the prevailing lunisolar calendars in use throughout the region. In the early centuries CE, the reference civil calendar of the Buddhist calendar prevalent in Southeast Asia was the Saka Era (Mahāsakaraj Era), which is said to have been adopted by the Pyu state of Sri Ksetra in 80 CE. The Saka Era was gradually replaced by the Burmese Era or Culāsakaraj, first in Myanmar in 640 CE,and in other Theravada kingdoms of Southeast Asia between the 13th and 16th centuries. Theravada Buddhist tradition also recognizes pre-Buddhist Anjana Sakaraj (Añjana's Era) since the events of the Buddha's life are recorded in that era.
|Anjana Sakaraj||10 March 691 BCE||Said to have been started by the Buddha's maternal grandfather King Añjana |
Used to date the events during the Buddha's lifetime
|Buddhist Era||13 May 544 BCE |
11 March 545 BCE
|544 BCE in Myanmar; 545 BCE in Thailand|
|Śaka Era||17 March 78 CE||Civil calendar|
|Burmese Era (Culāsakaraj)||22 March 638||Civil calendar|
The tradition of using different reference calendars continued in Siam in 1912 when King Vajiravudh decreed that the Buddhist Era would now track the Thai solar calendar, the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar with the New Year's Day of 1 April. Therefore, the Thai Buddhist Era year of 2455 began on 1 April 1912 (as opposed to 15 April 1912 according to the lunisolar calendar). The Thai Buddhist Era was further realigned to the Gregorian calendar on 6 September 1940 when Prime Minister Phibunsongkhram decreed 1 January 1941 as the start of the year 2484 BE. As a result, the Year 2483 was only 9 months long, and the Thai Buddhist Era equals that of the Common Era plus 543 years.
The lunisolar calendar is used to mark important Buddhist holidays. Many of the holidays are celebrated as public holidays.
|Buddhist calendar date||International date||Public holiday in||Notes|
|Full moon of Pausa||January||Sri Lanka||Duruthu Poya: Commemorates the first visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka|
|Full moon of Magha||February||Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand||Magha Puja in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and known as Navam Poya in Sri Lanka|
|Full moon of Phalguna||March||Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka||Boun Pha Vet (Laos), Tabaung Festival (Myanmar), Medin Poya (Sri Lanka)|
|Almost always in Caitra, sometimes in Vaisakha||13–17 April |
(varies by country)
|Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand|| Songkran (Southeast Asian New Year) |
Traditionally, the New Year's Day is marked when the Sun enters Aries but the day is now fixed in most countries; Myanmar still follows the tradition. It also marks the beginning of the next Buddhist calendar animal zodiac year for certain countries.
|Full moon of Caitra||April||Sri Lanka||Bak Poya: Commemorates the second visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka|
|Full moon of Visakha||May||Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore||Buddha Day (Vesak)|
|Full moon of Jyaistha||June||Sri Lanka||Poson Poya: Commemorates introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka|
|Full moon of Ashadha||July||Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka|| Vassa |
Esala Poya (Sri Lanka)
Asalha Puja (Thailand)
|Full moon of Sravana||August||Sri Lanka||Nikini Poya|
|Full moon of Bhadrapada||September||Laos, Sri Lanka||Binara Poya (Sri Lanka)|
|Full moon of Asvina||October||Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka||End of Vassa |
Boun Suang Huea (Laos); Thadingyut Festival (Myanmar); Vap Poya (Sri Lanka); Wan Ok Phansa (Thailand)
|Full moon of Karttika||November||Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia||That Luang Festival (Laos); Tazaungdaing Festival (Myanmar); Il Poya (Sri Lanka); Loi Krathong (Thailand); Bon Om Touk (Cambodia)|
|Full moon of Margasirsa||December||Sri Lanka||Undhuvap Poya (Sri Lanka)|
Since the release of Java 8, the Buddhist calendar is supported in the new Date and Time API. iOS has support to display Buddhist calendar years.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Buddhist Era .|
A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, religious, commercial or administrative purposes. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A date is the designation of a single, specific day within such a system. A calendar is also a physical record of such a system. A calendar can also mean a list of planned events, such as a court calendar or a partly or fully chronological list of documents, such as a calendar of wills.
The traditional Chinese calendar, is a lunisolar calendar which reckons years, months and days according to astronomical phenomena. In modern days, it is defined in China by GB/T 33661–2017, "Calculation and promulgation of the Chinese calendar", issued by the Standardisation Administration of China on 12 May 2017.
Intercalation or embolism in timekeeping is the insertion of a leap day, week, or month into some calendar years to make the calendar follow the seasons or moon phases. Lunisolar calendars may require intercalations of both days and months.
A lunar calendar is a calendar based on the monthly cycles of the Moon's phases, in contrast to solar calendars, whose annual cycles are based only directly on the solar year. The most commonly used calendar, the Gregorian calendar, is a solar calendar system that originally evolved out of a lunar calendar system. A purely lunar calendar is also distinguished from a lunisolar calendar, whose lunar months are brought into alignment with the solar year through some process of intercalation. The details of when months begin varies from calendar to calendar, with some using new, full, or crescent moons and others employing detailed calculations.
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the Moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year, then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year, then the calendar will predict the constellation near which the full moon may occur. As with all calendars which divide the year into months there is an additional requirement that the year have a whole number of months. In this case ordinary years consist of twelve months but every second or third year is an embolismic year, which adds a thirteenth intercalary, embolismic, or leap month.
A month is a unit of time, used with calendars, which is approximately as long as a natural period related to the motion of the Moon; month and Moon are cognates. The traditional concept arose with the cycle of Moon phases; such months (lunations) are synodic months and last approximately 29.53 days. From excavated tally sticks, researchers have deduced that people counted days in relation to the Moon's phases as early as the Paleolithic age. Synodic months, based on the Moon's orbital period with respect to the Earth-Sun line, are still the basis of many calendars today, and are used to divide the year.
The Metonic cycle or enneadecaeteris is a period of approximately 19 years after which the phases of the moon recur on the same day of the year. The recurrence is not perfect, and by precise observation the Metonic cycle is defined as 235 synodic lunar months, a period which is just 1h27m33s longer than 19 tropical years. Using these integer numbers facilitates the construction of a luni-solar calendar.
A solar calendar is a calendar whose dates indicate the season or almost equivalently the apparent position of the Sun relative to the stars. The Gregorian calendar, widely accepted as standard in the world, is an example of a solar calendar. The main other type of calendar is a lunar calendar, whose months correspond to cycles of Moon phases. The months of the Gregorian calendar do not correspond to cycles of Moon phase.
The Thai lunar calendar, or Tai calendar, is a lunisolar Buddhist calendar. It is used for calculating lunar-regulated holy days. Based on the SuriyaYatra, with likely influence from the traditional Hindu Surya Siddhanta, it has its own unique structure that does not require the Surya Siddhanta to calculate. Lunisolar calendars combine lunar and solar calendars for a nominal year of 12 months. An extra day or an extra 30-day month is intercalated at irregular intervals.
The Thai solar calendar was adopted by King Chulalongkorn in 1888 CE as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar, replacing the Thai lunar calendar as the legal calendar in Thailand. Years are now counted in the Buddhist Era (B.E.): พุทธศักราช, พ.ศ., which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.
The Hindu calendar refers to a set of various lunisolar calendars that are traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and South-east 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 South India, Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) found in Nepal, North and Central regions of India, Tamil calendar used in Tamil Nadu, and the Bengali calendar used in Bengal – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle. Their new year starts in spring. In contrast, in regions such as Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Malayalam calendar, their new year starts in autumn, and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Hindu calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchanga (पञ्चाङ्ग).
Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are cycles of the moon. The relevant calendar may be a purely lunar calendar or a lunisolar calendar
The history of calendars, that is, of people creating and using methods for keeping track of days and larger divisions of time, covers a practice with ancient roots.
Calendar reform or calendrical reform, is any significant revision of a calendar system. The term sometimes is used instead for a proposal to switch to a different calendar design.
Vikram Samvat and also known as the Vikrami calendar, is the historical Hindu calendar in the Indian subcontinent. It is the official calendar of Nepal. In India it is used in several states. The calendar uses lunar months and solar sidereal years.
In Thailand, two main calendar systems are used alongside each other: the Thai solar calendar, based on the Gregorian calendar, used for official and most day-to-day purposes, and the Thai lunar calendar, used for traditional events and Buddhist religious practices.
The Burmese calendar is a lunisolar calendar in which the months are based on lunar months and years are based on sidereal years. The calendar is largely based on an older version of the Hindu calendar, though unlike the Indian systems, it employs a version of the Metonic cycle. The calendar therefore has to reconcile the sidereal years of the Hindu calendar with the Metonic cycle's near tropical years by adding intercalary months and days at irregular intervals.
Chula Sakarat or Chulasakarat is a lunisolar calendar derived from the Burmese calendar, whose variants were in use by most mainland Southeast Asian kingdoms down to the late 19th century. The calendar is largely based on an older version of the Hindu calendar though unlike the Indian systems, it employs a version of the Metonic cycle. The calendar therefore has to reconcile the sidereal years of the Hindu calendar with Metonic cycle's tropical years by adding intercalary months and intercalary days on irregular intervals.
Purushottam Maas or Adhik Maas is an extra month in the Hindu calendar that is inserted to keep the lunar and solar calendars aligned. "Purushottam" is an epithet of Vishnu, to whom the month is dedicated.
A Small Mahzor is a 19-year cycle in the lunisolar calendar system used by the Jewish people. It is similar to, but slightly different in usage with, the Greek Metonic cycle.