Burmese calendar

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The Burmese calendar (Burmese : မြန်မာသက္ကရာဇ်, pronounced  [mjəmà θɛʔkəɹɪʔ] , or ကောဇာသက္ကရာဇ်, [kɔ́zà θɛʔkəɹɪʔ] ; Burmese Era (BE) or Myanmar Era (ME)) 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.


The calendar has been used continuously in various Burmese states since its purported launch in 640 CE in the Sri Ksetra Kingdom, also called the Pyu era. It was also used as the official calendar in other mainland Southeast Asian kingdoms of Arakan, Lan Na, Xishuangbanna, Lan Xang, Siam, and Cambodia down to the late 19th century.

Today the calendar is used only in Myanmar as the traditional civil calendar, alongside the Buddhist calendar. It is still used to mark traditional holidays such as the Burmese New Year, and other traditional festivals, many of which are Burmese Buddhist in nature.



The Burmese chronicles trace the origin of the Burmese calendar to ancient India with the introduction of the Kali Yuga Era in 3102 BCE. That seminal calendar is said to have been recalibrated by King Añjana (အဉ္စန), the maternal grandfather of the Buddha, in 691 BCE. That calendar in turn was recalibrated and replaced by the Buddhist Era with the starting year of 544 BCE. [1] The Buddhist Era came to be adopted in the early Pyu city-states by the beginning of the Common Era. Then in 78 CE, a new era called the Shalivahana era, also called Sakra Era or Saka Era, was launched in India. Two years later the new era was adopted in the Pyu state of Sri Ksetra, and the era later spread to the rest of the Pyu states. [2]

According to the chronicles, the Pagan Kingdom at first followed the prevailing Saka Pyu Era, but in 640 CE King Popa Sawrahan (r. 613–640) recalibrated the calendar, naming the new era Kawza Thekkarit (ကောဇာ သက္ကရာဇ် [kɔ́zà θɛʔkəɹɪʔ] ) [3] with a Year Zero starting date of 22 March 638 CE. [4] It was used as the civil calendar, while the Buddhist Era remained in use as the religious calendar.

Scholarship accepts the chronicle narrative regarding the North Indian origin of the calendar and the chronology of adoption in Burma up to the Mahāsakaraj Era. Recent research suggests that the Gupta Era (epochal year of 320 CE) may also have been in use in the Pyu states. [note 1] Mainstream scholarship, however, holds that the recalibrated calendar was launched at Sri Ksetra, and later adopted by the upstart principality of Pagan. [5] [6]


The adoption by an ascendant Pagan paved the way for the calendar's adoption elsewhere in the Pagan Empire between the 11th and 13th centuries. The calendar first came to be used in peripheral regions or neighbouring states such as Arakan in the west and various Shan states in modern northern Thailand and Laos in the east, which adopted the calendar alongside folklore connected with the Burmese New Year. [7] According to the Chiang Mai Chronicles and the Chiang Saen Chronicles, Chiang Mai and Chiang Saen and their tributary states of middle and upper Tai country (except Lamphun and Sukhothai) submitted to King Anawrahta and adopted the calendar in the mid-11th century in place of Mahāsakaraj, the standard calendar of the Khmer Empire. [8] [note 2] However, scholarship says the earliest evidence of Burmese calendar in modern Thailand dates only to the mid-13th century. [9]

While the use of the calendar appears to have spread southward to Sukhothai and eastward to Laotian states in the following centuries, [8] the official adoption farther south by the Ayutthaya Kingdom and farther east by Lan Xang came only after King Bayinnaung's conquests of those kingdoms in the 16th century. Subsequent Siamese kingdoms retained the Burmese calendar as the official calendar under the name of Chulasakarat (Pali: Culāsakaraj) until 1889. [10] [11] The Siamese adoption turned out to be the main catalyst for the calendar's usage in Cambodia, [12] a periodic vassal of Siam between the 16th and 19th centuries. Likewise, the calendar spread to the Chittagong region of Bengal, which was dominated by the Arakanese Mrauk-U Kingdom from the 15th to 17th centuries. [1]

Development and changes

The calculation system of the Burmese calendar was originally based on Thuriya Theiddanta (သူရိယသိဒ္ဓန္တ [θùɹḭja̰ θeiʔdàɰ̃ta̰] , which is believed to be chiefly based on the "original" Surya Siddhanta system of ancient India (i.e. Ardharatrika school). [13] One key difference from Indian systems was that the Burmese system followed a 19-year intercalation schedule (Metonic cycle). It is unclear from where, when or how the Metonic system was introduced; hypotheses range from China to Europe. [note 3]

The Burmese system thus uses a "strange" combination of sidereal years from the Indian calendar with the Metonic cycle, which is better for tropical years than sidereal years, so necessitating intercalation adjustments to reconcile the differences. [14] Furthermore, the Burmese system did not incorporate advances in Indian calculation methods of the sidereal year until the mid-19th century. [note 4] (The original Thuriya Theiddanta system is 0.56 second a year slower (and more accurate) than later Indian systems. [15] )

The earliest attempts on record to change the calendar were superficial. On the 800th anniversary of the calendar (29 March 1438), King Mohnyin Thado recalibrated the calendar to Year 2 (with Year Zero beginning on 18 March 1436). [16] But the king died just over a year after the launch, and the new era died out a few years later. The next proposed change came in March 1638 from King Prasat Thong of Siam who in preparation of the upcoming millennial anniversary (10 April 1638) wanted to make a change to the governing animals of the months. [17] As the practice was not prevalent in Burma, the proposal was rejected by King Thalun.

Meanwhile, the growing cumulative discrepancy between the civil solar and luni-solar years attracted increasing attention. In the 1100th anniversary year (1738 CE) a new system of calculation was proposed that aimed to correct the errors of the original system, but the Toungoo court did not take any action. The present Surya Siddhanta (i.e., Saura school) was introduced to the Konbaung court in 1786, and was translated into Burmese after about 50 years. [13] [18] Finally, a new system called Thandeikta was proposed by Nyaunggan Sayadaw, a Buddhist monk, in Year 1200 (1838 CE). [19]

The new system was a hybrid between the original and the updated Surya schools. Unlike the new Surya, Thandeikta does not adopt the system of apparent reckoning; mean years and mean months are still used. It also retains the practice of placing the intercalary month always next to Waso and the intercalary day always at the end of Nayon, and only in a year which has an intercalary month. But Thandeikta follows the new Surya in small alterations of the length of the year and the month. The prevailing Metonic schedule was modified, and intercalary months were so fixed as to prevent further divergence between the solar and luni-solar years. With the support of Princess Sekkya Dewi, who later became the chief queen of King Mindon, the new system was fully adopted in 1853. The first adjustment to then existing Metonic Cycle was made by putting an intercalary month in 1201 ME (1839 CE) instead of 1202 ME (1840). [18]

While the new system has seemingly narrowed the gap between the calendar's solar and lunar years, it has not made the calendar more accurate when compared against the actual tropical year. Indeed, it is slightly worse than the old system. (The Thandeikta solar year is about 23 minutes 51.4304 seconds ahead of the mean solar year whereas Makaranta is about 23 minutes 50.8704 seconds ahead.) [20] As a result, the calendar has kept on drifting away from the actual solar year. The calendarists have periodically resorted to modifying its intercalation schedule, based on apparent reckoning, to keep pace, at the expense of making publishing future calendars more than a few years out all but impossible.

In sum, at various times the calendar has used at least three slightly different methods of calculation to determine the insertion times of the intercalary day and month.

Thuriya TheiddantaPrior to 1215 ME (to 1853 CE)Metonic cycle determines intercalary day and month insertion points
Thandeikta1215–1311 ME (1853–1950 CE)Modified Metonic cycle: # of excess days in the first 4 months determines intercalary day and month insertion points
Current1312 ME (1950 CE) to presentCurrent system used by Myanmar Calendar Advisory Board; Modified Metonic cycle: # of excess days in the first 8 months determines intercalary day and month insertion points

Current status

The calendar fell out of the official status in several mainland Southeast Asian kingdoms in the second half of the 19th century with the arrival of the European colonialism. The Gregorian calendar replaced the Burmese calendar in Cambodia in 1863, Burma in 1885 and Laos in 1889. [note 5] In 1889, the only remaining independent kingdom in Southeast Asia, Siam, also replaced the Burmese calendar and switched to the Gregorian calendar as the official civil calendar and Ratanakosin Era (with 1782 CE as Year 1) as the traditional lunisolar calendar. [10]

Today, the calendar is used purely for cultural and religious festivals in Myanmar. Thailand has moved on to its own version of Buddhist calendar since 1941 although the Chulasakarat era dates remain the most commonly used and preferred form of entry by the academia for historical studies. [9] The Chittagong Magi-San calendar, identical to the Arakanese calendar, is still used by certain ethnic minorities of Bangladesh. [1]



The calendar recognises two types of day: astronomical and civil. The mean Burmese astronomical day is from midnight to midnight, and represents 1/30th of a synodic month or 23 hours, 37 minutes and 28.08 seconds. The civil day comprises two halves, the first half beginning at sunrise and the second half at sunset. In practice, four points of the astronomical and civil day (sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight) were used as reference points. The civil day is divided into 8 baho (ဗဟို [bəhò] ) (3 hours) or 60 nayi (နာရီ [nàjì] ) (24 minutes), each baho equalling 7.5 nayi. In the past, a gong (မောင်း [máʊɴ] ) was struck every nayi while a drum (စည် [sì] ) and a large bell (ခေါင်းလောင်း [kʰáʊɴ láʊɴ] ) were struck to mark every baho. [21]

TypeTimeBurmese nameDescription
Day1 o'clockနံနက် တစ်ချက်တီးmidway between sunrise and midday
2 o'clockနေ့ နှစ်ချက်တီးnoon (midday)
3 o'clockနေ့ သုံးချက်တီးmidway between noon and sunset
4 o'clockနေ့ လေးချက်တီးsunset
Night1 o'clockည တစ်ချက်တီးmidway between sunset and midnight
2 o'clockည နှစ်ချက်တီးmidnight
3 o'clockည သုံးချက်တီးmidway between midnight and sunrise
4 o'clockနံနက် လေးချက်တီးsunrise

Although the popular usage never extended beyond baho and nayi measurements, the calendar consists of time units down to the millisecond level.

UnitSub-unitsApproximate equivalent time
8 baho1 day
ဗဟို [note 6]
7.5 nayi3 hours
4 pat24 minutes
15 bizana6 minutes
6 pyan24 seconds
10 khaya4 seconds
12 khana0.4 second
4 laya0.03333 second
1.25 anukhaya0.00833 second
<base unit>0.00667 second

Only the following are used in calendrical calculations:

UnitSub-unitsApproximate equivalent time
yet60 nayi1 day
nayi60 bizana24 minutes
bizana60 khaya24 seconds
khaya60 anukhaya0.4 second
anukhaya<base unit>0.00667 second

Therefore, modern time units can be expressed as:

UnitApproximate equivalent Burmese units
hour2.5 nayi
minute2.5 bizana
second2.5 khaya


The civil week consists of seven days. It was also customary to denote the day of the week by its preassigned numerical value between zero and six. The names Taninganwe (Sunday) and Taninla (Monday) are derived from Old Burmese but the rest from Sanskrit. [22]

Numerical notationNameIPADescription
[sənè] Saturday
[tənɪ́ɴɡənwè] Sunday
[tənɪ́ɴlà] Monday
[ɪ̀ɴɡà] Tuesday
[boʊʔdəhú] Wednesday
[tɕàðàbədé] Thursday
[θaʊʔtɕà] Friday


The calendar recognises two types of months: synodic month and sidereal month. [23] The Synodic months are used to compose the years while the 27 lunar sidereal days (နက္ခတ် [nɛʔkʰaʔ] ; from Sanskrit nakshatra), alongside the 12 signs of the zodiac, are used for astrological calculations. [24] (The calendar also recognises a solar month called Thuriya Matha, which is defined as 1/12th of a year. [25] But the solar month varies by the type of year such as tropical year, sidereal year, etc.) Basically, in Myanmar calendar, one month spans the period in which the moon gradually become into its full circle and then gradually disappears, completing its one oscillation of appearance; the words for "moon" and "month" are the same "la(လ)" in Myanmar.

TypeMean # of days per Thuriya TheiddantaMean # of days per Thandeikta
Synodic lunar month
စန္ဒရမာသ လ
Sidereal month
နက္ခတ္တမာသ လ

The days of the month are counted in two halves, waxing (လဆန်း [la̰záɴ] ) and waning (လဆုတ် [la̰zoʊʔ] ). The 15th of the waxing (လပြည့် [la̰bjḛ] ) is the civil full moon day. The civil new moon day (လကွယ် [la̰ɡwɛ̀] ) is the last day of the month (14th or 15th waning). The mean and real (true) New Moons rarely coincide. The mean New Moon often precedes the real New Moon. [23] [24]

1 to 15from New Moon to Full Moon
Full Moon
15Full Moon
1 to 14 or 15from Full Moon to New Moon
New Moon
15New Moon

As the Synodic lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, the calendar uses alternating months of 29 and 30 days. The 29-day months are called yet-ma-son la (ရက်မစုံလ), and the 30-day months are called yet-son la (ရက်စုံလ). [23] Unlike in other Southeast Asian traditions, the Burmese calendar uses Burmese names for the month names. Although the names sound foreign in origin to modern Burmese ears, all but three are derived from Old Burmese. The three exceptions—Mleta/Myweta (မ္လယ်တာ / မြွယ်တာ), Nanka (နံကာ), Thantu (သန်တူ)—which all fall during the Buddhist Lent, have been replaced by newer Burmese names (Waso, Wagaung, Thadingyut), which used to mean just the Full Moon days of the three months. [26]

BurmeseMon# of days
(non-leap year)
စဲ, /coa/
ပသာ်, /pəsaik/
ဇှ်ေ, /cèh/
ဓဂိုန်, /həkɜ̀n/
သ္ဍဲသဳ, /hədoa sɔe/
ဘတ်, /phòt/
ဝှ်, /wòh/
ဂထိုန်, /kəthɒn/
မြေဂ္ဂသဵု, /pəròikkəsɒ/
ပုဟ်, /paoh/
မာ်, /màik/
ဖဝ်ရဂိုန်, /phɔrəkɜ̀n/

In great leap years, the month of Nayon gets an extra intercalary day called yet-lun (ရက်လွန်) or yet-ngin (ရက်ငင်) and has 30 days. [23] In the Arakanese calendar, the month of Tagu gets the extra intercalary day in great leap years. [18]


Types of astronomical year

The calendar recognises three types of astronomical year: tropical year, sidereal year and anomalistic year. [21]

Year NameDescription# of mean solar days by original Surya# of mean solar days by Thandeikta
Thawanamatha Hnit
tropical year 365.25875365.2587564814
Nekkhattamahta Hnit
sidereal year 365.2729132
Thuriyamatha Hnit
anomalistic year 365.2770951

Types of calendar year

The Burmese 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 regulate the lunar part that it will keep pace 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. [27]

As such, the calendar adds an intercalary month (ဝါထပ် [wà daʔ] ) in leap years (ဝါငယ်ထပ်နှစ် [wàŋɛ̀daʔ n̥ɪʔ] ) and sometimes also an intercalary day (ရက်ငင် [jɛʔ ŋɪ̀ɴ] ) in great leap years (ဝါကြီးထပ်နှစ် [wàdʑídaʔ n̥ɪʔ] ). 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. [24] 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. [18]

The actual calendar year (Wawharamatha Hnit, ဝေါဟာရမာသနှစ်) consists of 354, 384 or 385 days.

MonthRegular yearSmall leap yearBig leap year
2nd Wason/a3030

The Thai Chulasakarat calendar uses 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. [28] Both systems arrive at the same number of days in a 19-year cycle however. Furthermore, in contrast to Indian calendars, the Burmese calendar follows a Metonic cycle in which intercalary months are inserted on a set schedule. However, because the Burmese calendar has to adjust for the use of Indian-calendar-derived sidereal years with the Metonic cycle's tropical years, maintaining a set Metonic cycle has been a challenge. [14]

The calendar seems to have employed several schedules to determine which of the 19 years will be intercalary years. To find out which year will have an intercalary month, divide the Burmese year by 19. The quotient is the expired cycles. The remainder, if tallies with the set sequence number of the prevailing Metonic cycle, then it will be an intercalary year. [29]

SystemIntercalary years in 19-year cycle
Pre-17402, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18
17402, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 18
18921, 4, 7, 9, 12, 15, 18
1990s1, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18

New Year's Day

Since the main purpose of Burmese 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. [23] The date, which at the present falls on the 16 or 17 April, has slowly drifted over the centuries. In the 20th century, the New Year's Day fell on 15 or 16 April but in the 17th century, it fell on 9 or 10 April. [30]

As a result, the New Year's Day of Burmese calendar does not have to fall on the first day of the first month of Tagu; in fact, it almost never does fall on the first waxing of Tagu. Tagu is almost always divided into two parts Hnaung Tagu (နှောင်းတန်ခူး [n̥áʊɴ dəɡú] ; "Late Tagu"), before the New Year's Day and Oo Tagu (ဦးတန်ခူး [ʔú dəɡú] ; "Early Tagu") on and after the New Year's Day. In some years, the year was so behind the solar year that the new year falls in Kason and both Hnaung Tagu and Hnaung Kason (နှောင်းကဆုန် [n̥áʊɴ kəsʰòʊɴ] ; "Late Kason") exist. Therefore, just saying "Tagu of 1373 ME" is not complete as "Oo Tagu of 1373" corresponds to 2011 CE while "Hnaung Tagu of 1373" corresponds to 2012 CE.


The calendar used to employ a 12-year Jovian cycle that redeployed the lunar month names and attached them to the years. [31] The Burmese cycle is not the more familiar Jovian cycle of India with 60 years in it. [32] The practice existed in the Pagan period but had died out by the 17th century.

Remainder (year÷12)Name


Burmese tradition recognises the following eras. The Buddhist Era and Kawza Era are still in use in Myanmar.

Burmese nameDescriptionYear 0 date
Maha Thekkarit
မဟာ သက္ကရာဇ်
Anjanasakaraj10 March 691 BCE
Thathana Thekkarit
သာသနာ သက္ကရာဇ်
Buddhist Era 13 May 544 BCE [note 7]
Pyu (Saka) Era
ပျူ သက္ကရာဇ်
Shalivahana era (Mahāsakaraj in Thailand)17 March 78 CE
Kawza Thekkarit
ကောဇာ သက္ကရာဇ်
Current Burmese calendar
22 March 638 [note 8]
Mohnyin Thekkarit
မိုးညှင်း သက္ကရာဇ်
18 March 1436


The Burmese calendar uses lunar months but tries to keep pace with the solar year. The present Thandeikta system's solar year is about 23 minutes 51.43 seconds ahead of the actual mean tropical year of 365.241289 days. The older Makaranta system was actually slightly more accurate, with 23 minutes 50.87 seconds ahead of the actual year. [20] The table below shows how Thandeikta purports to achieve a narrower difference (hence better accuracy) over Makaranta.

19 solar years6939.91625 days6939.9163731466 days
235 lunations6939.687005 days6939.68816731 days
Difference0.229245 day0.2282058366 day

The gain in accuracy is 0.0010391634 day (89.78371776 seconds) over 19 years, or about 4.72546 seconds a year. However, this gain is illusory as Thandeikta achieves the gain by redefining the mean lunar month (lunation), which is then more accurate and the solar year, which is less accurate. The table below shows the solar years of both systems in comparison with the actual mean tropical year. Thandeikta is 0.56 second a year less accurate than Makaranta. [20]

19 solar years per own definition6939.91625 days6939.9163731466 days
Actual 19 tropical years6939.601591 days6939.601591 days
Difference over 19 years0.314659 day0.3147821466 day
Difference over per year23.84784 minutes
(1430.8704 seconds)
23.85717322 minutes
(1431.430393 seconds)

In sum, both systems are about 24 minutes per year ahead of the actual tropical year; the systems' methods of intercalation fixes only their internal error; and Thandeikta slightly accelerates the annual drift. The accumulating error means the New Year's Day which used to fall near the vernal equinox at its launch in 638 now falls on 17 April in 2013—a drift of 15 days, (after adjusting to the Julian and Gregorian calendar switch). Burmese calendarists have dealt with the issue by using apparent reckoning and 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 Burmese zodiac, like the Western zodiac, is divided into 12 signs called yathi (ရာသီ [jàðì] ). The Burmese signs are identical to Indian and Western signs as they were derived from Indian and ultimately Western zodiac. Each yathi is divided into 30 degrees (အင်္သာ [ɪ̀ɴðà] ); each degree into 60 minutes (လိတ္တာ [leiʔtà] ); and each minute into 60 seconds (ဝိလိတ္တာ [wḭleiʔtà] ). [33]

SanskritLatinRuling planet
Aries Mars
Taurus Venus
Gemini Mercury
Cancer Moon
Leo Sun
Virgo Mercury
Libra Venus
Scorpio Mars
Sagittarius Jupiter
Capricorn Saturn
Aquarius Saturn
Pisces Jupiter

Lunar mansions

The zodiac month consists of 27 days, approximating the mean sidereal month of 27.321661 days. Thus each zodiac day, called nekkhat, represents a lunar mansion, or a segment of the ecliptic along which the moon revolves around the earth. Though the names are Burmese adaptations of Sanskrit names, the Burmese system is not the same as the modern Indian system. The Burmese system uses unequal spaces for each segment (from 5° to 26°), and the first segment, Athawani, begins at 350° longitude. The modern Indian system uses equal segments of 13° 20' (360° divided by 27), and the first segment, Asvini, begins at 0°. The list below follows the Thandeikta system. [34]

11Pyobba Baragonni
ပြုဗ္ဗာ ဘရဂုဏ္ဏီ
Purva Phalguni16°129°–145°
12Ottara Baragonni
ဥတ္တရာ ဘရဂုဏ္ဏီ
Uttara Phalguni145°–154°
20Pyobba Than
Purva Ashadha15°242°–257°
21Ottara Than
Uttara Ashadha257°–262°
25Pyobba Parabaik
ပြုဗ္ဗာ ပုရပိုက်
Purva Bhadrapada10°313°–323°
26Ottara Parabaik
ဥတ္တရာ ပုရပိုက်
Uttara Bhadrapada16°323°–339°


The Burmese zodiac recognises eight signs in a seven-day week.

Cardinal directionBurmeseSanskritEnglishPlanetSign
Aditya Sunday Sun Garuda
Chandra Monday Moon Tiger
Angaraka Tuesday Mars Lion
Budha Wednesday a.m. Mercury Tusked elephant
Rahu Wednesday p.m. Lunar node Tuskless elephant
Bṛhaspati Thursday Jupiter Rat
Shukra Friday Venus Guinea pig
Shani Saturday Saturn Nāga


The Burmese calendar has a number of variants inside present-day Myanmar as well as outside. The variants outside Myanmar are still in use albeit under a different year numbering system.


According to Arakanese (Rakhine) tradition, the calendar was launched by King Thuriya Thehta of Dhanyawaddy Dynasty. At least down to the early 20th century, the Arakanese calendar used the Makaranta system although the Burmese calendar had moved to the Thandeikta system since the mid-19th century. In the Arakanese calendar, the month of Tagu gets the extra intercalary day in great leap years. [18] Moreover, in Arakanese tradition, only the New Year's Day is observed. [35] The Arakanese calendar under the name of Magi-San is still used by the Magh people of Bangladesh. [18]


The Burmese calendar first came to be adopted in present-day northern Thailand in the mid-13th century, and in central Thailand by the second half of the 16th century. Although then mainland kingdoms of Lan Na, Lan Xang, Siam, and later Cambodia adopted the Burmese epoch starting at 638 CE, each region retained its own traditions and/or introduced its own modifications afterwards. For example, the Kengtung, Lan Na, Lan Xang, and Sukhothai calendars still retained the use of numbering the months even though the Burmese calendar stopped using the numbered months alongside the month names. The use of numbering system may have predated the introduction of the Burmese calendar in any case since each region had its own numbering system. The first numbered month in Kengtung, Lan Na, Lan Xang and Sukhothai calendars is Tazaungmon (Karttika), Thadingyut (Asvina), (Nadaw) Margasirsha, and (Nadaw) Margasirsha, respectively. [36] 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. [28] (Note: The Sukhothai and Lan Xang numbering systems and the now abandoned Burmese numbering system are the same. [36] )

Likewise, Cambodian and Thai systems have retained the practice of giving animal names to the years from a cycle of 12. [37] The practice also existed in Burma in the Pagan period but later died out. [31]

Moreover, Chulasakarat uses three similar but not identical types of lunar years used by the Burmese calendar. [28] Each calendar has the same regular year of 354 days and a leap year of 384 days. However, whereas the Burmese calendar adds the intercalary day only in a leap cycle according to its Metonic cycle, the Siamese calendar adds the intercalary day to a regular year. The Siamese calendar does add the extra day in the same place (Jyestha/Nayon), however. [38]

CalendarRegularSmall leap yearBig leap year

Lastly, the calculation methods also diverged in the mid-19th century when Konbaung Dynasty switched to the Thandeikta method, which is 0.56 second per year longer than the old system. [15]


The traditional Dai calendar of Dai people of Xishuangbanna in China is largely based on the Burmese calendar although it may have some Chinese influences. [13]

Current usage

The Burmese calendar is still used to determine a number of public holidays in Myanmar.

Event nameBurmese calendar dateInternational date
Full moon of Tabaung Full moon of TabaungMarch–April
Burmese New Year Festival Almost always in Tagu, sometimes in Kason13–17 April
Buddha Day Full moon of KasonMay–June
Start of Buddhist Lent Full moon of WasoJune–July
End of Buddhist Lent Full moon of ThadingyutOctober–November
Tazaungdaing Festival Full moon of TazaungmonNovember–December
National Day 10th waning of TazaungmonNovember–December

See also


  1. (Aung-Thwin 2005: 334–335): More research needs to be done. A Pyu stone inscription discovered in 1993 indicates that the Pyu states may have also used the Gupta Era.
  2. (Oriental 1900: 375–376): "The invasion of Lavo [Laos] ascribed to Anawrahta was more probably the work of some of his successors."
  3. (Ohashi 2001: 398–399): Astronomers of ancient India certainly knew of the Metonic cycle, and may have introduced the concept to Southeast Asia. However, the Metonic cycle, is incompatible with sidereal based Hindu calendars, and thus was not (and still is not) used in Hindu calendars. (Chatterjee 1998: 151) suggests that the Metonic system was introduced to Burma by Europeans. (Ohashi 2001: 398–399) rejects Chatterjee's hypothesis saying that "no other trace of European influence is found in South-East Asian astronomy." Instead, (Ohashi 2001: 401–403) suggests that China may have been the source of the Metonic cycle.
  4. A.M.B. Irwin (Irwin 1909: 2–3) suggests that by 1738, the calendar was on the Makaranta system, an adaptation of the original Surya system. But J.C. Eade (Eade 1996: 17) doubts Irwin's assessment, saying he has found no differences with the original system still prevalent in mainland Southeast Asia at least to Pagan period inscriptions. Since the Burmese calendar was officially adopted only in 1564 in Siam, and since later Siamese calendars still used the original Surya, the Burmese calendar must have followed the original Surya at least to the 16th century, if not later. Even if the Makaranta system had come to be used in Burma in the following centuries, Ohashi (Ohashi 2007: 354–355) says the Burmese Makaranta system is "probably different from the well-known Indian Sanskrit astronomical table (Makarandasarani (1478 CE) of Makaranda, which follows the Saura school".
  5. (Simms and Simms 2001: 204–210) Laos became a French protectorate in March 1889 although the former overlord Siam would not acknowledge it until October 1893.
  6. archaic spelling ပဟိုရ် as seen in the Maha Yazawin chronicle (Maha Yazawin Vol. 2: 260)
  7. (Kala Vol. 1 2006: 38): According to Burmese tradition, the Buddha died on the full moon day of Kason 148 Anjanasakaraj.
  8. (Luce Vol. 2 1970: 336): According to planetary positions, the current Burmese era technically began at 11:11:24 on 22 March 638.

Related Research Articles

Calendar A system for organizing the days of year.

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.

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 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.

Metonic cycle period of very close to 19 years that is nearly a common multiple of the solar year and the synodic (lunar) month

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.

Thai solar calendar

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).

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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.

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.

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.

The Tamil calendar is a sidereal Hindu calendar used by the Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It is also used in Puducherry, and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu farmers greatly refer to this. It is used today for cultural, religious and agricultural events, with the Gregorian calendar largely used for official purposes both within and outside India. The Tamil calendar is based on the classical Hindu solar calendar also used in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Odisha, Rajasthan and Punjab This shows Hindus are well versed about the planetary movements for ages.

The Burmese zodiac is the traditional Burmese system of astronomy and astrology. While it is still an important component of the Burmese calendar, today, the zodiac is closely identified with Burmese astrology, called Bedin (ဗေဒင်). Largely derived from Hindu astronomy and Vedic astrology, the Burmese zodiac consists of not only the same 12 signs of the Western zodiac but also 27 lunar mansions of the month and eight weekday signs.

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.

Nisan-years is an ancient calendar system used around Mesopotamia. Its beginning was from prehistorical era. Ever since Mesopotamia had historical writings, even before the First Babylonian dynasty of Hammurabi, its calendar used the Nisan-years.

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.

The Balinese saka calendar is one of two calendars used on the Indonesian island of Bali. Unlike the 210-day pawukon calendar, it is based on the phases of the Moon, and is approximately the same length as the Gregorian year.


  1. 1 2 3 Irwin 1909: 2
  2. Htin Aung 1970: 8–9
  3. Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 216
  4. Eade 1989: 39
  5. Hall 1960: 8
  6. Aung-Thwin 2005: 35
  7. Htin Aung 1959: 38–39
  8. 1 2 Oriental 1900: 375–376
  9. 1 2 Eade 1989: 11
  10. 1 2 Smith 1966: 11
  11. Htin Aung 1967: 127
  12. Eade 1989: 9
  13. 1 2 3 Ohashi 2007: 354–355
  14. 1 2 Ohashi 2001: 398–399
  15. 1 2 Irwin 1909: 7
  16. Eade 1995: 17
  17. Rong 1986: 70
  18. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Irwin 1909: 2–3
  19. Clancy 1906: 58
  20. 1 2 3 Irwin 1909: 26–27
  21. 1 2 Clancy 1906: 57
  22. Luce Vol. 2 1970: 327
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 Clancy 1906: 56–57
  24. 1 2 3 Irwin 1909: 8–9
  25. Irwin 1909: 5
  26. Luce Vol. 2 1970: 328
  27. Eade 1995: 15
  28. 1 2 3 Eade 1989: 9–10
  29. Chatterjee 1998: 150–151
  30. Eade 1989: 135–145, 165–175
  31. 1 2 Luce Vol. 2 1970: 330
  32. Eade 1995: 23-24
  33. Irwin 1909: 7–8
  34. Irwin 1909: 10–11
  35. Parise 2002: 190
  36. 1 2 Eade 1995: 28–29
  37. Eade 1995: 22
  38. Eade 1989: 20