Indian national calendar

Last updated

Mohar of Gorkha(later Nepal's) king Prithvi Narayan Shah dated Saka era 1685 (AD 1763). Nepal30005a.JPG
Mohar of Gorkha(later Nepal's) king Prithvi Narayan Shah dated Saka era 1685 (AD 1763).

The Indian national calendar, sometimes called the Saka calendar, is used, alongside the Gregorian calendar, by The Gazette of India , in news broadcasts by All India Radio and in calendars and communications issued by the Government of India. [1]


Originally through historical Indian influence, the Saka calendar is also used in Java and Bali among Indonesian Hindus. Nyepi, the "Day of Silence", is a celebration of the Saka new year in Bali. Nepal's Nepal Sambat evolved from the Saka calendar. The Saka calendar was also used in several areas in the modern-day Philippines as written in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.

Calendar structure

The calendar months follow the signs of the tropical zodiac rather than the sidereal zodiac normally used with the Hindu and Buddhist calendars.

#Name (Sanskrit)LengthStart date (Gregorian)Tropical zodiacTropical zodiac (Sanskrit)
1 Chaitra 30/31March 22/21AriesMeṣha
2 Vaisākha 31April 21TaurusVṛiṣabha
3 Jyēshtha 31May 22GeminiMithuna
4 Āshādha 31June 22CancerKarkata/Karka
5 Shrāvana 31July 23LeoSimha
6 Bhādra 31August 23VirgoKanyā
7 Āshwin 30September 23LibraTulā
8 Kārtika 30October 23ScorpioVṛiśchik‌‌‌a
9 Agrahāyana 30November 22SagitariusDhanur
10 Pausha 30December 22CapricornMakara
11 Māgha 30January 21AquariusKumbha
12 Phālguna 30February 20PiscesMīna

Chaitra [2] is the first month of the calendar. Chaitra has 30 days and starts on March 22, except in leap years, when it has 31 days and starts on March 21. The months in the first half of the year all have 31 days, to take into account the slower movement of the sun across the ecliptic at this time.

The names of the months are derived from older, Buddhist lunisolar calendar, so variations in spelling exist, and there is a possible source of confusion as to what calendar a date belongs to.

The first day of the week is Ravivara (Sunday). [3] The official calendar reckoned by Govt. Of India has Sunday to Saturday as the week. [1]

Days of the Saka calendar [3]

Years are counted in the Saka era, which starts its year 0 in the year 78 of the Common Era. To determine leap years, add 78 to the Saka year – if the result is a leap year in the Gregorian calendar, then the Saka year is a leap year as well.


Vikram Period

Kushana king Kanishka is believed to have created the calendar that came to be known as the Saka Calendar.


Senior Indian Astrophysicist Meghnad Saha was the head of the Calendar Reform Committee under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Other members of the Committee were: A. C. Banerjee, K. L. Daftari, J. S. Karandikar, Gorakh Prasad, R. V. Vaidya and N. C. Lahiri. It was Saha's effort, which led to the formation of the Committee. The task before the Committee was to prepare an accurate calendar based on scientific study, which could be adopted uniformly throughout India. The Committee had to undertake a detailed study of thirty different calendars prevalent in different parts of the country. The task was further complicated by the integration of those calendars with religion and local sentiments. India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in his preface to the Report of the Committee, published in 1955, wrote: "They (different calendars) represent past political divisions in the country ... . Now that we have attained Independence, it is obviously desirable that there should be a certain uniformity in the calendar for our civic, social, and other purposes, and this should be done on a scientific approach to this problem." [4] Usage started officially at 1 Chaitra 1879, Saka Era, or 22 March 1957.

See also

Related Research Articles

Calendar System for organizing the days of year

A calendar is a system of organizing days. 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.

Lunisolar calendar Calendar with lunar month, solar year

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.

New Year First day of a calendar year

New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increments by one. Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner. In the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used calendar system today, New Year occurs on January 1. This was also the first day of the year in the original Julian calendar and the Roman calendar.

In chronology and periodization, an epoch or reference epoch is an instant in time chosen as the origin of a particular calendar era. The "epoch" serves as a reference point from which time is measured.

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 a 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 the Moon phase.

New Years Day Holiday that celebrates the new year every 1 January

New Year's Day, also simply called New Year or New Year's, is observed on 1 January, the first day of the year in the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. Whilst most solar calendars begin the year regularly at or near the northern winter solstice, the start of the new year in cultures that observe a lunisolar or lunar calendar happen at less fixed points relative to the solar year.

The Hindu calendar, Panchang or Panjika is one 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 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 contrast, in regions such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Tamil Calendar and 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 Panchangam (पञ्चाङ्ग), which is known also known as Panjika in Eastern India.


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.


Chaitra is a month of the Hindu calendar.

Vaisakha is a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds to April/May in the Gregorian Calendar. In Indian national calendar, Vaisakha is the second month of the year. It is the first month of the Vikram Samvat calendar, Odia calendar, Punjabi calendar, Assamese calendar and the Bengali calendar. This month lies between the second half of April and the first half of May. Regional calendars used in the Indian subcontinent have two aspects: lunar and solar. Lunar months begin with Chaitra and solar months start with Vaisakha Sankranti. However, regional calendars mark when the official new year is celebrated. In regions such as Maharashtra which begin the official new year with the commencement of the lunar year, the solar year is marked by celebrating Vaisakha Sankranti. Conversely, regions starting the new year with Vaisakha Sankranti, give prominence to the start of the lunar year in Chaitra. In Vedic calendar, it is called Madhav and in Vaishnav calendar, it is called Madhushudan month.

The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendars primarily used in mainly South and Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand as well as in 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 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 sideral year.

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 Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, and Mauritius. 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

Shaka era

The Shaka era or Shalivahana Śaka is a historical calendar era, the epoch of which corresponds to Julian year 78. It is commonly known in Indian languages as Shalivahana Śaka or in RTGS Mahasakkarat and continues to be used in traditional calendars.

The Vira Nirvana Samvat (era) is a calendar era beginning on 7 October 527 BCE. It commemorates the Nirvana of Lord Mahaviraswami, the 24th Jain Tirthankara. This is one of the oldest system of chronological reckoning which is still used in India.

Capricorn (astrology) Tenth astrological sign of the zodiac

Capricorn(♑︎) is the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac out of twelve total zodiac signs, originating from the constellation of Capricornus, the horned goat. It spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac, corresponding to celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from about December 21 to January 21 the following year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 16 to February 16. In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, negative sign, and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn.

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.

Bengali calendars

The Bengali Calendar or Bangla Calendar, colloquially, is a solar calendar used in the Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent. A revised version of the calendar is the national and official calendar in Bangladesh and an earlier version of the calendar is followed in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. The New Year in the Bengali calendar is known as Pohela Boishakh.

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 tropical year.

The Solar Hijri calendar, also called the Iranian Hijri calendar or Shamsi Hijri calendar, and abbreviated as SH and, sometimes, HS, is the official calendar of Iran and Afghanistan. It begins on the March equinox (Nowruz) as determined by astronomical calculation for the Iran Standard Time meridian and has years of 365 or 366 days.


  1. 1 2 "Government Holiday Calendar". Govt. of India Official website.
  2. "National Identity Elements - National Calendar - Know India: National Portal of India". Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  3. 1 2 Quint, The (22 March 2019). "Happy 'Saka' New Year 1941: Story Behind India's National Calendar". TheQuint. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  4. "Meghnad Saha, A Pioneer in Astrophysics". Vigyan Prasar Science Portal. Archived from the original on 23 February 2015.