For official purposes, the entire world follows a calendar system comprising of 12 months of 365 days, which starts in January. This popular calendar system, which is known as the Gregorian calendar, is purely a solar calendar. In other words, it depends entirely on the movement of the earth around the sun.
For better synchronization with the world, every country adopted a uniform calendar system along with their traditional calendar system. India being no exception did the same. The Gregorian Calendar came to India in 1752, the same year it was adopted in Great Britain. However, the Indian calendars called Panchangas were also widely used. Till the time India got its independence, the Gregorian Calendar became much more popular in use in Government and for many other public purposes. For a newly independent country, a one-nation, one-calendar was the need of the hour for harmonization of date within the country.
Although India adopted the Gregorian calendar for official purposes, Indian festivals are celebrated according to Indian traditional calendar systems. It becomes important for us to know about our own Calendar system. Saka Samvat and Vikram Samvat are the two most widely calendar systems used in the Pre-British period. In this article, we will know about the Vikaram Samvat calendar system.
Vikram Samvat, which originated in 57 BC, was a Hindu tradition calendar. This calendar system was started 57 years before the Gregorian calendar. This system became so popular, that it influenced the other calendars in the world.
The origin of this calendar is associated with a brave Indian king Vikramaditya. He was known as a just and fair ruler who took care of the interests of his subjects. During the period of Vikramaditya, a large part of India, including Ujjain, was ruled by foreign rulers Shakas. The subjects under the foreign rule were under atrocities. King Vikramaditya established his rule by freeing the whole of India from the atrocities of the Shakas and giving a fear-free life to the people. In memory of this victory, King Vikramaditya had introduced the Vikram Samvat Panchang. After this, the Shaka Samvat started in 78 AD, which unfortunately today is considered the national era of India.
Structure of Vikram Samvat:
Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Vikram Samvat is lunisolar like Hebrew and Chinese calendars. In a normal year, a Vikram Samvat has 354 days, while a leap month or adhik maas is added in accordance to the Metonic cycle roughly once every three years, to be more precisely 7 times in a 19-year cycle to ensure that festivals and crop events fall during the same time. This lunisolar calendar is 56.7 years ahead of the solar Gregorian calendar. Accordingly, in March-April 2022, the year 2079 of Vikram Samvat has begun.
Tithis (dates) have great importance in the Hindu calendar. The special thing about these dates is that they do not change in 24 hours, rather they depend on sunrise and sunset.
The months of the Hindu calendar are made up of two sides. Both Shukla Paksha and Krishna Paksha are of fifteen to fifteen days. Amavasya falls on the last day of Krishna Paksha, and Purnima occurs on the last day of Shukla Paksha.
Months in Vikaram Samvat:
The beginning Hindu Solar Year takes place with the festival of Vaisakhi. It is celebrated in Punjab, Northern, Eastern, North-eastern, and Central India. Baisakhi festival falls after or during the harvest. Whereas, the Hindu lunar New Year starts on the first day of Chaitra Navratri. The months in which Vikram Samvat is divided are
- Baishakh – Mid April to mid-May
- Jyeshth – mid-may to mid-June
- Ashadh – Mid-June to mid-July
- Shravan – mid-July to mid-August
- Bhadrapada – mid-August to mid-September
- Ashwin – Mid-September to mid-October
- Kartik – mid-October to mid-November
- Agrahayana – mid-November to mid-December
- Paush – mid-December to mid-January
- Magh – mid-January to mid-February
- Falgun – mid-February to mid-March
- Chaitra – Mid March to mid-April
The new year of Vikram Samvat is celebrated with great pomp in many parts of the country. It often occurs in mid-April and coincides with the New Years in places like Assam, Bengal, Myanmar, West Bengal, Kerala, Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu, etc. Along with Nepal, the Vikram Samvat calendar is also used in eastern and northern India. The festivals of many places in South Asia are similar to the ones mentioned in the calendar of Vikram Samvat.