Saturday, June 18, 2011

What is Panchang?

Indian calendar, more specifically, Hindu calendar is known as Panchang. Like any society, Hindu calendar is the backbone of Indian culture. All our festivals, fasts and muhurats (auspicious dates) are determined by Panchang. It is also known as Panchangam in South India, but follows the same timelime.

But Panchaang is much more than a calendar, it is a record of all planetary positions, not only of the past but accurately calculated positions in the future. This makes Panchang an indispensable tool in Jyotish, the Indian branch of Astrology. These planetary positions are used to develop a Kundali (Indian Birthchart). Panchang gives direction to us on which field of work to choose and the most appropriate time for it.

Click here for today's Panchang

The literal meaning of Panchang is "something which has 5 parts. These five parts are:

These five characteristic define each day.


Tithi is the date which is calculated by measuring the difference between Moon and the Sun. One tithi is defined as the time it takes for Sun and Moon to travel 12 degrees relative to each other. Hence, each tithi is composed of 12 degrees.

Each maas, or month has 30 tithis. The month itself is divided into 2 Pakshas (Krishna and Shukla) of 15 tithis each. Amavasya (New moon) falls on Krishna paksha while Purnima (Full moon) falls on Shukla Paksha.


Vaar, as most of us know, is the day of the week. Like many other calendars, there are 7 days in a week in Hindu calendar as well. They are - Ravivaar (Sunday), Somvaar (Monday), Mangalvaar (Tuesday), Guruvaar (Thursday), Shukravaar (Friday) and Shanivaar (Saturday).

More on Panchang in next part.
We were discussing about the Hindu calendar, Panchaang. We had already covered the importance and meaning of Panchang. We had also discussed two out of the five parts which define Panchangam - Vaar and Tithi. Please read that article below.

Now let us look at the remaining three parts of a Panchang - Nakshatra, Yog and Karan.

Click here for today's Panchang.

This part of Panchanga defines the position of the Moon. It tells us which constellation Moon is travelling in, on that day. One Naksatra occupies 13 degrees and 20 minutes in the sky. So, the total 360 degrees of the sky has 27 Nakshatras.

Yog tells us the angular relationship between Sun and Moon. But unlike tithi, which is the longitudinal difference between Sun and Moon, yog is the longitudinal sum of their positions. There are 27 yogas and each have a specific nature which provides unfavorable or favorable conditions for certain matters.

Defines half of a tithi. There are hence two karans in each tithi.

Apart from above information, a Panchang also conveys the transit of planets. Transit is the current positions of planets in space.

All this information is calculated using a highly advanced mathematical approach. This makes Indian calendar, Panchang, a highly sophisticated almanac of dates, times and planetary positions. All this information is used to determine things like auspicious muhurats, suitability of the day for people and for a specific area of activity. Hence, in depth knowledge of Panchanga is essential for understanding and practicing Astrology.

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