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A panchanga is a Hindu calendar and almanac, which follows traditional units of Indian timekeeping, and presents important dates and their calculations in a tabulated form. It is sometimes spelled Pancanga, Panchanga, Panchaanga, or Panchānga, and is pronounced Panchānga. Pachangas are used in Jyotisha (Jyotiṣa).

A panchanga is a Hindu calendar and almanac, which follows traditional units of Indian timekeeping, and presents important dates and their calculations in a tabulated form. It is sometimes spelled Pancanga, Panchanga, Panchaanga, or Panchanga, and is pronounced Panchānga. Pachangas are used in Jyotisha (Jyotiṣa).In Eastern India, including Assam, Bengal, Orisa the Panchangam is referred to as Panjika.

Panchangams are published in India by many learned authors, societies, academies, and universities. Different publications differ only minutely, at least for a casual or un-trained reader. They forecast celestial phenomena such as solar eclipses, forecast weather (rain, dryspells) as well as more mundane occurrences.

The study of Panchangams involves understanding Rasi phala (also pronounced 'Rashi phala'), the impact of the signs of the zodiac on the individual. Astrologers consult the Panchāngam to set auspicious dates for weddings, corporate mergers, and other worldly activities as per religion.

The actual casting of a Panchāngam 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.

A typical Panchangam may state tabulations of positions of Sun, Moon, and other planets for every day of the year on a fixed place (longitude, latitude) and time of day (in 24-hour format IST). The users calculate the remaining data using the their relative difference from this fixed place and time.

There are several panchangas that contain information for more than one year. There is one Vishvavijaya Panchāngam that is for 100 years.

The theories propounded in the two scriptures, Surya Siddhanta and Grahalaghava formed the basis for the myriad calendars or Panchāngas in the past in different regions of the country - a culturally complex system.

The Grahalaghava was compiled some 600 years ago and Surya Siddhanta was available ages before that. But these had become outdated and did not tally with actual astronomical events and did not tally with each other also. Hence, a committee was appointed by the Government of India with experts in the field drawn from various parts of the country who were involved with preparation of Panchangam in local languages to draw up a reliable Panchangam in which the mathematical calculations provides the positions of grahas (the planets) and nakshatras (constellations) in the sky as they are observed.

Thus, the Government of India has prepared the National Panchanga or the Indian national calendar in 1957 (was proposed by Saha and Lahiri in 1952), which is used in predictive astrology. The Lahiris Ephemeris published annually is the most widely used English almanac in Vedic astrology apart from the many Panchangas published in local languages, which are mostly based on the National Panchanga.

The basic purpose of Hindu Panchāngam is to check various Hindu festivals and auspicious time (election- Muhurta). In the Hindu system of election, various element of Panchāngam constitute auspicious and inauspicious moments (Yogas) by combination of weekday-Tithi, weekday-constellation, weekdays-Tithis-constellations. In addition, individual weekdays, Tithis, constellations, Yoga and Karanas have been prescribed for specific activities which fructify during their currency.

There are three popular meanings of panchangam:

  1. In Vedic astrology, meaning "five attributes" of the day. They 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.

  2. An almanac that contains the astronomical / astrological daily details also came to be called a panchangam because of the importance of five attributes.

  3. Panchanga-pūjan, which is a part of Ganesh-Ambika-pujan. Thithi or Lunar day is an important concept in Hindu Astrology. It means lunation. There are thirty Thithis in a Lunar month distributed in the 360 degrees of the Zodiac and each Thithi is completed when the longitude of the Moon gains exactly 12 degrees or its multiple on that of the Sun. By name there are only 15 thithis repeating in the two half’s of the month – Shukla 1 to Shukla 15 (known as Poornima or Full Moon) and Krishna 1 to 15 (known as Amavasya or New Moon). In astrological parlance Thithi has great significance in the fact that each Thithi from 1 to 14 in both Pakshas has what are called Daghda rasis or Burnt Rasis – two rasis for each Thithi except Chaturdasi which has four Daghda rasis. But New Moon and Full Moon have no Dagdha Rasis. The Thithis are divided into five groups as under.

    1. Nanda (Ananda or Joyous) thithi - Prathipada (1st), Shasti (6th) and Ekadashi (11th);

    2. Bhadra (Arogya or Mangala or Healthy) thithis on – Dwitiya (2nd), Saptami (7th) and Dwadashi (12th);

    3. Jaya (Victory) Thithi –Tuesday- Tritiya (3rd), Ashtami (8th ) and Trayodashi (13th);

    4. Rikktha (Loss or Nashta) Thitihis – Saturday - Chathurthi (4th) Navami (9th) and Chaturdasi (14th);

    5. Poorna (Sampoorna - Full Moon or New Moon) Thithis –Thursday Panchami (5th), Dashami (10th) and Amavasya (New Moon) or Poornima.

A unique Vedic system is followed in Muhurtha Astrology, Horary Astrology and predictive astrology, which envisages grouping of Nakshtaras (Stars) into nine sub-groups. Each sub-group covers three stars and has a specific name of ‘Tara’ proceeded by a word defining benefic or malefic nature. These are found to be extremely useful in Vedic Astrology which is widely practiced in India. The nine Taras (Stars)by their individual names are elaborated below.

  1. Janma (Birth) Tara – The Janma (birth star) Nakshatra, the 10th from Janma nakshatra also known as Karna nakshatra and the 19th from Janma nakshatra known as Adhana nakshatra constitute this Tara.

  2. Sampat Tara – The 2nd the 11th and the 20th Nakshatras counted from Janma nakshatra constitute this Tara.

  3. Vipat Tara – The 3rd, the 12th and the 21st stars counted from Janma nakshatra constitute this Tara.

  4. Kshema Tara – The 4th, the 13th and the 22nd Nakshatras counted from the janama nakshatra constitute this Tara.

  5. Pratyak Tara – The 5t, the 14th, and the 23rd nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitutes this Tara.

  6. Sadhaka Tara – The 6th, the 15th, and the 24th nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitutes this tara.

  7. Nidhana Tara – The 7th, the 16th, and the 25th nakshatras from the Janma nakshatra constitutes this tara.

  8. Mitra Tara – The 8th, the 17th and the 26th nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitute this tara.

  9. Ati or Parama Mitra Tara – The 9th, the 18th and the 27th nakshatras from Janma nakshatra constitutes this tara.

Uses

For selecting an auspicious moment Panchangam Shuddhi (purified-time) is fundamental. In addition favourable transits, purified ascendant, absence of malefic yogas, favourable Dasha (Hindu progression), name of doer, propitiations, chanting of Mantras, place of activity, social customs, omens, mode of breathing are also examined.

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