How to read a Hindu calendar…

Reading a Hindu calendar can be complex, especially for beginners. So here is a quick guide, just for you!

Start with a Panchāngam – Drink Panchang is a good option. It has an app and a website – so take your pick.

Let’s assume that you are using the app. Ensure that the location is selected – the city where you currently reside.

If in your selected city, the lunar month ends with Purnima, or full moon, select “Purnimanta”, else select Amanta. This will ensure that you have the correct lunar month corresponding to your city.

Refresh the app and see the current date. Click on it to show more details.

You can select 12 Hour as an option.

Let’s start with Tithi.

You can see that it is Chaturthi up to 2.15 pm, and then Panchami. This overlap happens given that the lunar and solar days do not correspond, so you can use this reference and match it to the current solar day and time.

Also be mindful that these are ending times, for all subsequent aspects of the calendar as well.

When the degree wide difference between the Sun and Moon exceeds 12 degrees, the Tithi changes.

Below Tithi comes Nakshatra.

You can see that it is Krittika in progress till 3.22 pm, and then the Rohini Makshatra for the rest of the day.

The Nakshatra in which the Moon travels, or transits on a particular day, is the Nakshatra of that day. If your Nakshatra is Rohini, it means that the Moon was traveling in Rohini Nakshatra during the time of your birth.

Next comes Karana.

As before, the Vishti/Bhadra Karana ends at 2.15 pm, and is followed by Bava till 3.20 am on April 6th (which is tomorrow), followed by Balava Karana.

By the way, a Tithi is made up of two Karanas. In other words, a Karana is one half of a Tithi.

Next, Paksha, or moon phases.

See the marked portion – it says Shukla.

Each Paksha has 15 Tithis. The fifteen upto Purnima are classified as Shukla Paksha, or waxing moon. The fifteen after Purnima, leading to Amavasya, or no moon, are called Krishna Paksha, or waning moon.

That’s it!

So yesterday, at sunrise, it was

Chaturthi, Bhadra Karana, Krittika Nakshatra, Shukla Paksha, Chaitra Masa, 2079 Vikrama Samvata.

Today at sunrise, it was

Panchami, Balava Karana, Rohini Nakshatra, Shukla Paksha, Chaitra Masa, 2079 Vikrama Samvata.

One can deep-dive into this, which we will later, but this is a good starting point. Download the app and get going!