Friday, April 11, 2014

Tamil Panchangam (Almanac)

Panchangam is a Hindu calendar and astrological almanac, which presents astronomical (calculations), information that are being meticulously documented in Panchanga in tabulated form. It covers every aspect of the movement of sun, moon phases and the position of other planets, stars and also indicate auspicious times and days. 

The Tamil Panchangam or Tamil Astrological Almanac is a solar and nirayana or sidereal Hindu calendar used in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, India. It is also used by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.  Since the Hindu sidereal or Nirayana Mesha Sankranti (Sun's transition into nirayana Aries) falls on 14 April,  the day marks the first day of the traditional Tamil Panchangam or calendar. This day and event also coincide with other traditional calendars followed in rest of the states in India i.e, Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Odisha, Manipur, Punjab  etc. The new year day is known as Bihu (Assamese); Pohela Boishakh (Bengali);  Vishu (Malayalam); Vishuva Sankranti (Oriya); Vaisakhi (Punjabi); and Puthandu (Tamil).

In olden days sages and rishis followed traditional methods to provide exact positions of stars. The oral documentation included formulas and statements in poetic formats for mnemonic understanding and to retain in memory. The algorithms on rate of movements of planets, including Rahu and Ketu followed by them was known as Surya Siddhantic system or Vakya Siddhanta. This was documented in  in our ancient treatises on astronomy / astrology and  termed as Vakya Panchangam tradition.

The observation of planets and mathematical calculation of their movements proved the Surya Siddhantic system erroneous and showed variations up to 12 hours. The lack of precision of Surya Siddhantic system is well known to the followers of Surya Siddhanta and yet they publish Vakya Panchangam every year in Tamil. This kind of Vakya Panchangam exists only in Tamil Astrology. 

Examples of Vakya Panchangam in Tamil: M.S.Pachiappa Mudaliar 28 No. Pambu Sudhha Vakya Panchangam, (Printer, Manonmani Vilas Press),  T.Vijaya raghava Iyengar 28 No. Pambu Vakhya Panchangam,  K.N.Narayanamoorthy Arcot Seetharama Iyer Panchangam, Tirunelveli vakiya tamil panchangam, Ramanathapuram vakiya tamil panchangam, 108 Archagrgal, Yazhppannam Kokkuvil,  Kutti Sastrigal Srirangam Temple Panchangam, N.R.Mahalingam Sivasakthi Panchangam, K.V. Kuppuswamy Hanuman Panchangam, M.V. Narayanan Hayagreevar Panchangam, G.S.Subramaniam Maruthukudi Panchangam, Patti Veerabhadra Dhyvagnyan Srisailam Panchangam, S.Gopalakrishnan Raghavendra Panchangam.

The other method of calculation is based on observation of planets and calculation of their movements.  Drik Ganita means according to actual observation (drishti = sight) and estimation (ganita = calculated). The Drik Ganita system use algorithms to obtain precise position of stars  and use standard ephemeris for documentation. The government of India has also supported modern ephemeris for National Panchang or Rashtriya Panchang and Positional Astronomy Centre in Calcutta publishes modern Indian Ephemeris since 1957. The Drik Ganita  system also use ephemeris to fix the longitude and latitude of a given place and the time units are translated from Nazhikai to minutes. Examples include: Anandabodhini panchangam, L.V.S.Mani Bharat Drik-Ganitha Panchangam, Vasan Panchangam

Five Basic Astronomical Elements

The Sanskrit word 'Panchangam' means (Pancha = five and Anga = limbs) five limbs or parts. The five basic astronomical elements of the day are represented in Panchangam:

1. Tithi (Lunar Day), 2. Nakshatra (The Constellation The Moon is aligned with), 3. Karana (Half-Day), 4. Yoga (A particular Angle of the Sun and Moon) and 5. Vara or Vasara (Solar Weekday).

These five basic astronomical elements are enough to accommodate all variations of planetary positions. Planetary positions will influence the physical and mental well being of all people. Panchangam forms the basic astronomical reference document to identify the rising and setting of sun, moon and other planets, the forthcoming (religious) events like lunar and solar eclipses, full moon, new moon and other tithis (lunar days). The astrologers use this document to fix auspicious time and date (Muhurt) as well as to prepare natal (birth) chart. Any venture or decisions made in an auspicious time will bring fortune and prosperity.

1). Tithi

According to Tamil calendar (as well as other Indian Hindu calendars) the lunar day (tithi) is the single lunar day. Lunar day is calculated based on the difference between the positional longitudinal angle of the sun and the moon. There are 30 lunar days or tithis. The counting of the lunar day or tithi commences from the new moon day (Amavasya). At the particular point of time the sun and the moon signs are conjunct together in their zodiac orbits. There from the moon transits across each zodiac sign and the moon's transition time (to cross each zodiac sign) ranges between 20.00 and 26.50 hours.

The lunar days occurring between the new moon and the full moon (Purnima) days are known as waxing period (Sukla Paksha) and the lunar days falling between full moon (Purnima) and the new moon days are known as waning period (Krishna Paksha). The tithi names follow the Sanskrit numeric system.

1. Pratipada (Prathama) or the Principal tithi (One),
2. Dvitiya, In Sanskrit 'Dvandham' means two
3. Tritiya, In Sanskrit 'Triyam' means three
4. Chaturthi, In Sanskrit 'Chatur' means four
5. Panchami, In Sanskrit 'Panchama' means five
6. Shasthi, In Sanskrit 'Shat' means six
7. Saptami, In Sanskrit 'Saptha' means seven
8. Ashtami, In Sanskrit 'Ashta' means eight
9. Navami, In Sanskrit 'Nava' means nine
10. Dasami, In Sanskrit 'Dasam' means ten
11. Ekadasi, In Sanskrit 'eka' means one and 'Dasam' means ten ekadasi = eleven
12. Dvadasi, In Sanskrit 'Dvandham' means one and 'Dasam' means ten Dvadasi = twelve
13. Trayodasi, In Sanskrit 'Triyam' means one and 'Dasam' means ten Trayodasi = thirteen
14. Chaturdasi, In Sanskrit 'Chatur' means one and 'Dasam' means ten Chaturdasi = fourteen

You need to count from Amavasya (new moon day) to purnima (full moon day) and include the 14 tithis for sukla paksha. Purnima to Amavasya include 14 tithis and count for Krishna Paksha. Thus there are 30 tithis i.e., new moon to purnima 15 tithis plus Pratipada to Amavasya 15 tithis.

2). Nakshatra

The second element star clusters or constellation (nakshatra) is already dealt in the previous post (Tamil Astrology).

3). Karana

The third element of the panchanga is Karana. What is Karana? A karana is simply half of your lunar day or the tithi. According to Vedic Astrology there are only eleven karanas and there are sixty Karanas occurring in a single lunar month. The eleven unique Karana names are:

1. Bava, 2. Balava, 3. Kaulava, 4. Taitila, 5. Gara, 6. Vanija, 7. Visti, 8. Sakuni, 9. Catuspada, 10. Naga and 11. Kintughna.

4). Yoga

According to Vedic Astrology the occurrence of a particular star cluster in combination with the specific day is considered either auspicious or inauspicious. There are twenty seven yogas. Certain combinations of day and star are inauspicious. Sidha yogas' and 'Amirtha yogas' are considered as auspicious.

5). Vara (vasara)

Varam is the fifth element of the panchanga. Varam is simply a solar day. It just includes your seven week days commencing from Sunday to Saturday. A solar day, measured from sunrise to sunrise. There are seven days in each phase, or week, in the Hindu system. Each solar day is said to be ruled by a planet as shown below:

1. Bhanu (or Ravi) vasara: Sunday Sun;  2. Soma vasara: Monday. "Day of the moon," also known as Indu vasara; 3. Mangala vasara: Tuesday. "Day of brightness, auspiciousness, fortune" or "day of Mars."; 4. Budha vasara: Wednesday. "Day of wisdom" or "Day of Mercury."; 5. Guru vasara: Thursday. "Day of the preceptor" or "day of Jupiter," known in Sanskrit as Brihaspati, by which this day is also known; 6. Sukra vasara: Friday. "Resplendent, clear day" or "day of Venus."; 7. Sani vasara or (Manta vasara): Saturday. "Day of Saturn." Or "Churning day"

The days - Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are always auspicious for commencing your plans and programs. Saturdays and Tuesdays are auspicious for commencing your course of medicines or surgical treatments, etc.. Sunday is neither auspicious nor inauspicious.

Time Divisions in a Solar Day

A solar day is divided into 60 'Naligais' (24 hours or 1440 minutes). A naligai is the basic unit of time in Tamil (Vedic) Aastrology. One naligai is equal to 24 minutes. Six naligais make one 'Jamam'. A jamam is an unit of time comprising 2 hours and 24 minutes (84 minutes). Five jamams make a day and another five jamams make the night. A solar day in total comprises 10 jamams.

Month: Masam as told earlier there are two uniqe types of months-lunar months and solar months. How a lunar is computed? A lunar month is the time taken by the moon to complete one lunar orbit of the moon around the earth (commencing either from the new moon day or the full moon day). A lunar month has two pakshas: One is Sukla Paksha (Waxing moon cycle) and Krshna Paksha (waning moon cycle). A solar month is the time taken by the sun to complete one solar transition or sun's movement through one rasi (zodiac sign). The solar months are as follows:

Sanskrit month - Tamil  month - with equivalent English calendar months:

1) Mesha - Chitrai - April/May; 2) Vrishabha - Vaikasi - May/June; 3) Mithuna - Ani - June/July;   4) Kataka - Adi - July/August; 5) Simha - Avani - August/September; 6) Kanya - Puratasi - September/October; 7) Thula - Aipasi - October/November; 8) Vrischika - Kartikai - November/December; 9) Dhanus - Markali - December/January; 10) Makara - Thai - January/February; 11) Kumbha - Masi - February/March; 12) Meena - Panguni - March/April.

Year: The 60-year cycle of the Tamil calendar is common to North and South Indian traditional calendars, with the same name and sequence of years.

Other Calendar Systems used in in India:

  1. Kaliyuga calendar; (3102 BCE)  Current Kaliyuga year 5116
  2. Buddha Nirvana calendar; (544 BCE) current Buddha Nirvana year 2558
  3. Buddhist Era (BE) of the Thai solar calendar (543 BCE) current Buddhist Era year 2557
  4. Bikram Sambat (56 BCE) or Vikrama calendar: In 56 BCE, Vikrama Samvat era was founded by the emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain following his victory over the Sakas. It is being followed in Western and Northern India and Nepal. current Vikrama year 2071
  5. Thiruvalluvar calendar (31 BCE) Current Thiruvalluvar 2031. Adopted as Official calendar in the Sate of Tamil Nadu India
  6. Saka calendar; (78 CE): Shalivahana or Saka calendar:  Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni initiated the Saka era to celebrate his victory against the Sakas in the year 78 CE. It is followed in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. It is also the official civil calendar in use in India. Current Saka year 1936.
  7. Bengali Calendar (593 CE) Current Bengali  year 1421
  8. Kolla Varsham calendar or Malayalam calendar  (824 CE) is used in Kerala. Current Kolla year 1190

Reference Sources:

  1.     Panchangam
  2.     Calendar
  3.     Hindu calendar


  1. Sairam sir
    The detailed description giving for yogam (Sidda yogam, Amritha yogam, Narayana yogam) are not the real set of yogam considered part of Panchangam.


  2. gud info.Here is an interesting Tamil calender app i found
    here is the link

  3. sir if horscope made by traditional vakya system and modern system differs considerably then can you guode me which to believe...

  4. sir if horscope made by traditional vakya system and modern system differs considerably then can you guode me which to believe...

  5. Well written and an informative post! I have a keen interest in this topic and have written several blogs on Dainik Rashifal and Astrology, as well. You can check them at mPhanchang

  6. Well written and an informative post! I have a keen interest in this topic and have written several blogs on Hindu calender and zodiac sign, as well. You can check them at mPhanchang.