Thursday, 3 January 2013

What is Panchang?

An illustration of a Panchang

Panchang is a distinctive concept of the Hindu calendar System. Hindu festivals, tithis, appropriate Muhurats and other significant celestial events such as Grahans are determined based on Panchang, for that reason, it is of significance to understand Panchang.

The logic behind Panchang is not that easily understood and it requires study, and of course patience. Nevertheless, through this post a basic knowledge of panchang can be acquired.

The word Panch means Five and Anga means Part, hence putting these two words together amounts to Five Parts or Five Elements. Each of these elements or parts of a panchang is important in the making of a Hindu calendar. In the Western Calendar, a concept some-what close to Panchang is Western Ephemeris. Panchang can be classified into two:

1.      Jyotish Panchang
2.      Commerce Panchang

Jyotish Panchang consists of Tithi, Var, Nakshatra, Yoga and Karan. It is mainly used for astrological forecasts and horoscope related matters.

Commerce Panchang consists of Tithi,Var, Nakshatra, Mas, and Moon Rasi. It is mainly used to determine Hindu festivals, muhurats and so on. This panchang is referred mainly by pandits and householders to check Tithis, Var, Muhurat and so on and so forth.

The actual casting of a Panchang involves elaborate mathematical work involving high level of spherical geometry and sound understanding of astronomical phenomena, such as sidereal movements of heavenly bodies. However, in practice the tabulation is done on the basis of short-cut formulations as propounded by ancient Vedic sages and scholars.

In Vedic astrology, the "five attributes" of the day that make up a Panchang are:

  • Tithi - Ending Moment (EM) of elongation of the Moon, the lunar day, the angular relationship between Sun and Moon (Apparent Moon minus Apparent Sun). One Tithi equals 12 degree difference between Moon and Sun.
  • Nakshatra - EM of asterism of the day, that is, the stellar mansion in which Moon is located for an observer at the center of the Earth. One Nakshatra equals 13 degrees:20 minutes. There are 27 Nakshatra in 360 degrees.
  • Yoga - EM of the angular relationship between Sun and Moon (Apparent Moon plus Apparent Sun). One Yoga equals 13 degrees: 20 minutes. There are 27 Yogas in 360 degrees.
  • Karana - EM of half of a Tithi. One Karaṇa equals 6 degree difference between Moon and Sun.
  • Var weekday the seven weekdays.
In simple terms Panchang means the Day, Nakshatra (Star), Thithi, Yoga and Karana every day. It is a mirror of the sky.