Indian national calendar

Last updated
Mohar of Gorkha king Prithvi Narayan Shah dated Saka era 1685 (AD 1763). Nepal30005a.JPG
Mohar of Gorkha king Prithvi Narayan Shah dated Saka era 1685 (AD 1763).

The Indian national calendar, sometimes called the Shalivahana Shaka calendar. It 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] 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. Prior to colonization, the Philippines used to apply the Saka calendar as well as suggested by the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.

The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

<i>The Gazette of India</i> newspaper

The Gazette of India is a public journal and an authorised legal document of the Government of India, published weekly by the Department of Publication, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. As a public journal, the Gazette prints official notices from the government. It is authentic in content, accurate and strictly in accordance with the Government policies and decisions. The gazette is printed by the Government of India Press.

All India Radio International service of India

All India Radio (AIR), officially known since 1956 as Ākāsha Vāṇī is the national public radio broadcaster of India and is a division of Prasar Bharati. It was established in 1930. It is the sister service of Prasar Bharati's Doordarshan, an Indian television broadcaster. Headquartered in the Akashvani Bhavan building in New Delhi, it houses the Drama Section, the FM Section, the National Service, and is also home to the Indian television station Doordarshan Kendra, (Delhi).


The term may also ambiguously refer to the Hindu calendar; the Shalivahana era is also commonly used by other calendars.

Hindu calendar is a collective term for the various lunisolar calendars traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping, but 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 North and Central regions of India, Tamil calendar used in Tamil Nadu, and the Bengali calendar used in the Bengal – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle. Their new year starts in spring, with their heritage dating back to 1st millennium BCE. 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).

The historic Shalivahana era calendar is still widely used. It has years that are solar.

Calendar structure

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

#Month (Sanskrit)LengthStart date (Gregorian)Tropical zodiacTropical zodiac (Sanskrit)
1 Chaitra 30/31March 22/21AriesMeṣa
2 Vaishākha 31April 21TaurusVṛṣabha
3 Jyēshtha 31May 22GeminiMithuna
4 Āshādha 31June 22CancerKarkata
5 Shrāvana 31July 23Leosimha
6 Bhaadra 31August 23VirgoKanyā
7 Āshwin 30September 23LibraTulā
8 Kārtika 30October 23ScorpioVṛścik‌‌‌a
9 Agrahayana 30November 22SagitariusDhanur
10 Pausha 30December 22CapricornMakara
11 Māgha 30January 21AquariusKumbha
12 Phalguna 30February 20PiscesMīna

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.

Ecliptic apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere

The ecliptic is the mean plane of the apparent path in the Earth's sky that the Sun follows over the course of one year; it is the basis of the ecliptic coordinate system. This plane of reference is coplanar with Earth's orbit around the Sun. The ecliptic is not normally noticeable from Earth's surface because the planet's rotation carries the observer through the daily cycles of sunrise and sunset, which obscure the Sun's apparent motion against the background of stars during the year.

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

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.

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. Its structure is just like the Persian 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. K. 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. It was a mammoth task. The Committee had to undertake a detailed study of different calendars prevalent in different parts of the country. There were thirty different calendars. The task was further complicated by the fact that religion and local sentiments were integral to those calendars. 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.” [2]

Usage started officially at 1 Chaitra 1879, Saka Era, or 22 March 1957.

See also

Related Research Articles

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.

New Year first day of a calendar year, in particular, January 1 in the Julian and Gregorian calendar

New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count increments by one.

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.

New Years Day Holiday

New Year's Day, also simply called New Year or New Year's, is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar.

Chaitra A month in Hindu calender

Chaitra is a month of the Hindu calendar.

Buddhist calendar lunisolar calendar

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 ; Listen ) is the historical Hindu calendar from the Indian subcontinent and the official calendar of modern-day India and Nepal. It 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.

Shaka era historical calendar era

The Shaka era is a historical calendar era, corresponding to Julian year 78. It is commonly known in Indian languages as Shalivahana Śaka or RTGS: Mahasakkarat "Greater Era").

The Vira Nirvana Samvat (era) is a calendar era beginning on 15 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.

The Javanese calendar is the calendar of the Javanese people. It is used concurrently with two other calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar. The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of the Republic of Indonesia and civil society, while the Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and the Indonesian government for religious worship and deciding relevant Islamic holidays.

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.

Bengali calendars calendar

The Bengali Calendar or Bangla Calendar 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 Gregorian year.

The Solar Hijri calendar, also called the Solar Hejri calendar or Shamsi Hijri calendar, and abbreviated as SH, 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.

Mīna, or Meena, is a month in Indian solar calendar. It corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Pisces, and overlaps with about the later half of March and about the early half of April in the Gregorian calendar.

Dhanu, Dhanus or Dhanurmas (धनुर्मास) is a month in the Hindu calendar, Malayalam calendar and others. It corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Sagittarius, and overlaps with approximately the second half of December and about the first half of January in the Gregorian calendar.


  1. "Government Holiday Calendar". Govt. of India Official website.
  2. Meghnad Saha Archived 2015-02-23 at the Wayback Machine