Other Festivals Too.

JAYABARATHI jaybee at tm.net.my
Thu Mar 27 20:44:05 UTC 1997

Reply to Peter J. Claus #33 Dated 2nd April, 1997 18:16:23Bst (to everyone on the list)
Re : Query on Whether the Tamil New Year always falls on 14th April?
I felt that alittle more clarification on this subject will not be out of place.
At present there are two systems of calender being usedin India. One is the SauramAna or Solar. THhe other one 
is the ChandramAna or Lunar.In SauramAna, the basic unit is the solar day of 24 hours.IN ChandramAna , the 
Lunar day or Thithi is the basic unit.
The Lunar month starts on the 1st day of the waxing mooni.e. the Shukla Paksha Pratama.It ends on the AmAvAsya- 
new moon.The lunar month is otherwise known as the Synodic Month. It is equivalent to 29.5 days. The Lunar Year 
is made up of 12 Lunar Months. Its length is 354.367056 days.
The Lunar months are named after the Asterism or Nakshatra in which the full moon occurs during that particular 
Full moon in Nakshatra Chitra = CHITTIRAI (Tamil month)
Full moon in Nakshatra Vishakha = VAIKAASI
The Solar year is based onthe movement of the Sun along the 12 signs of the Zodiac. THe period that it takes 
for the Sun to travese through one sign or RAsi is known as the Solar month.The span of each of the Zodiac 
signs is uniform i.e. 30 degreesof arc.Although this is uniform, the length of the Solar  months vary. This is 
because the orbital velocity of the Earth varies.
Thus the month of Chiththirai= 31 days, Aani is 32 days, Aippasi is 30 days , and Margalzhi is 29 days.
The velocity again depends upon he variance in the Earth's distance from the Sun.
The Solar Year starts when the Sun moves into the first point ofAries  i.e. the starting point of the Zodiac.
The length of the Solar Year is 365.2422 days. This is also known as the Astronomical year. It is upon this 
system that the Western Gregorian Year and the Tamil Year is based.
The Medeival Tamils followed the Solar calender more faithfully.
In the Chola and Pandya inscriptions, we find that the Tamil months were actually named after the Signs of the 
When the Sun was in Aries i.e. MEsha, The corresponding Tamil month was called MEda NyAyiRu..Taurus(Rishabha) 
=Idaba NyAyiRu.; Pisces = MIna NyAyiRu.
IT was during the Vijaya Nagar Empire period that Lunar calender came to be used in Tamil Nadu.
By and large a pseudo Lunisolar calender came into use. The real Lunisolar calener is somewhat different.
In our pseudo Lunisolar calender,the Lunar month's name is given to the corresponding Solar month.The length of 
the solar month was not affected.
The Tamil New Year being basically Solar, starts when the Sun moves into the Zodiacal sign of MEsha. It so 
happens that the full moon occurs in the Nakshatra Chitra or plus/minus one Nakshatra.lSo the month lost its 
original name. i.e. MEda NyAyiRu, and came to be called Chiththirai.
THe Tamil Solar calender is  equal to to the Astronomical calender on which the Gregorian System is also based 
i.e. 365 days 6hours 11 minutes 48seconds.
Only when the Sun enters the first point of Aries, the Tamil New Year can start.This may take place during any 
part of the day - morning, afternoon, evening,or night. It does not technically start at sunrise or midnight.
But the Gregorian year starts always at 12-00 midnight on the 31st December of the Preceding yearThe Gregorian 
year is of calculated uniformally of having 365 days with an additional day added on each fourth year i.e. leap 
year having 366 days.
Because of this the Tamil New Year moves forwards and backwards according to the lapse of time between the 
Tamil Calender and the Gregorian Calender. 
When the Tamil year is longer than the Gregorian year by 6hours plus,the latter  lapses. 
When a leap year occurs in the Gregorian year, the  Tamil year lapses.
This gets corrected automatically.
So the Tamil New Year occurs on the 14th April, most of the time and once in a few years- on the 15th April,and 
less frequently on the 13th April.

Dr. S.Jayabarathi
Sungai Petani.

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