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Difference between Hindu and Gregorian calendars

davidsander November 13, 2020

Introduction to Calendar

As the human race evolved, the man felt the need to calculate time and device a mechanism which could be studied and noted for present and future referral as well as to study the time period of past years.

A device that would help segregate time into a number of days, months, years and also help us understand the season accordingly and would be used to keep a track of the era. This is when the Calendar was formulated.

Calendar back then was used as a tool to decode what day it was and which tithi and Mahurat are auspicious and which are not. Calendars differed and still differ from place to place as the calculation of dates, time and period differ.

Through this article, we are going to impart knowledge about two types of Calendars namely the Hindu Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar.

In India, at present, there are four types of calendars which are used by people of different communities. These Calendars are the Saka Samvat Calendar, Vikram Samvat Calendar, Hijri Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar.

Although various types of calendars are used by people belonging to different sects or communities, the Gregorian calendar is a standard calendar which is globally accepted as the principal civil calendar that traces the transit of time. Let us take a look at each of the above-mentioned calendars

Hindu Calendars

1.     Saka Samvat

The commencement of Saka Samvat was marked during the era of Saka. King Shalivanhana who belonged to the Satavahana dynasty founded this calendar. The structure of the Saka calendar is similar to the Gregorian calendar as just like the Gregorian calendar it comprises 365 days and is divided into 12 months.
According to the Saka Samvat calendar, ‘Chaitra’ is the first month of the year which begins on the 22nd of March and comprises 30 days but in leap years it comprises 31 days and thus the first day of the year is counted from 21st of March.
In a year the months that fall in the first half comprises 31 days which marks the slow movement of the Sun during this time across the ecliptic.  
Given below is how the structure of Saka Calendar looks like along with the tropical zodiacs each month is associated with.
Sr. NoName (Sanskrit)LengthStart date (Gregorian)Tropical zodiacTropical zodiac (Sanskrit)
1Chaitra30/31March 22/21AriesMeṣa
2Vaisākha31April 21TaurusVṛṣabha
3Jyēshtha31May 22GeminiMithuna
4Āshādha31June 22CancerKarkata/Karka
5Shrāvana31July 23LeoSimha
6Bhadra31August 23VirgoKanyā
7Āshwin30September 23LibraTulā
8Kārtika30October 23ScorpioVṛścik‌‌‌a
9Agrahayana30November 22SagittariusDhanur
10Pausha30December 22CapricornMakara
11Māgha30January 21AquariusKumbha
12Phalguna30February 20PiscesMīna
  • Vikram Samvat

The Vikrami calendar is also referred to as the ‘Vikrami’ calendar and is used by many Hindus in different states of India. The Vikram Samvat is Nepal’s official calendar.

This calendar is based on the lunar months and solar sidereal years. This calendar is believed to be named after the great King Vikramaditya of Ujjain after he defeated the Saka dynasty.

During the Vikram Samvat era this calendar was found. The Vikram Samvat calendar is similar to the Hebrew calendar in terms of tackling the lunar-solar differences.

In the Vikram Samvat calendar, an additional lunar month is added with scientific reasoning. This month is added either once in three years or appears seven times to be precise in the cycle of 19 years. The reason this additional month is added is to make sure that the festivals and other important events like farming and growing of crops fall in the correct sessions. This extra month is called the ‘Adhik Maas’. 

The Vikram Samvat calendar is roughly 57 years ahead of the Saka Calendar and Gregorian calendar. For instance, we are currently in the year 2020 but if we refer to the Vikram Samvat calendar the current year is 2077.

Let us take a look at the months in the Vikram Samvat calendar and the relating Gregorian months

    Vaiśākha (April–May)

    Jyaiṣṭha (May–June)

    Asādha (June–July)

    Srāvana (July–August)

    Bhādrapada (August–September)

    Asvinā (September–October)

    Kārtikā (October–November)

    Agrahāyaṇa (November–December)

    Pauṣa (December–January)

    Māgha (January–February)

    Phālguna (February–March)

    Chaitra (March–April)

Gregorian Calendar

The Gregorian calendar is the widely used calendar around the globe. It is also known as the Western calendar or the Christian calendar. The Gregorian calendar was established in the year 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

Before the creation of this calendar, the Europeans referred to the Julian calendar which was found by Julius Caesar in 46 BC. However, the Julian calendar was not up to the mark and had many fluctuations in terms of day and date of festivals.

Hence because of all the inappropriate timings and miscalculations in the designated dates of the festivals and the solar year as calculated by the Julian calendar, Pope Gregory found a new calendar. One of the main reasons for finding the Gregorian calendar was also the fact that the solar year dates did not match with the designated date of Easter.

The Gregorian calendar is formulated on the movement of the earth and its rotation around the Sun. According to this calendar days are added to the lunar months in order to balance the mismatch between 354 lunar days and 365 solar days.

Now that we have some idea about each of these calendars let us take a look at the difference between Hindu calendar and the Gregorian calendar.

Difference between Hindu Calendar and Gregorian Calendar

There are many differences that can be clearly distinguished between the Hindu calendar and the Gregorian calendar. These differences are as follows

  • The Hindu calendar is formed on the basis of the movement of the moon around the planet earth while the Gregorian calendar is constructed on the basis of earth’s rotation around the sun,
  • The year in a Gregorian calendar comprises 12 months and every month comprises 30 or 31 days. On the other hand, the Hindu calendar too has 12 months but each month comprises 28 days.
  • In a Hindu calendar, an additional month is added which is known as the Adhik Mas. The reason for adding an additional month is to bridge the gap that occurs between the lunar years and solar years. Adhik Mas also popularly known as Purushottam Mas occurs after a regular interval of 32 months.
  •  Both Gregorian calendar and Hindu calendars comprise 12 months but according to the Gregorian calendar 1st of January is considered as the first day of the year while according to the Hindu calendar 22nd of March is considered as the first day of the year.
  • The months in the Gregorian calendar are January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December whereas, the months in the Hindu lunar calendar are Chaitra, Vaisakha, Jyaistha, Asadha, Shravana, Bhadra, Asvina, Kartika, Agrahayana, Pausa, Magha, and Phalguna.
  • Also, there is a vast difference in the seasons mentioned in the Hindu calendars and the Gregorian calendar. The Hindu calendar comprises 6 seasons which are also based on the patterns of the weather whereas, the Gregorian calendar comprises 4 seasons.
  • The seasons in Hindu calendar are Greeshma (Summer), Varsha (Monsoon), Hemanta (Winter), Sheshera (the Dewey season), Vasanta Rutu (Spring) and Sharad (Autumn). The seasons mentioned in the Gregorian calendar are winter, spring, summer and autumn.
  • One of the most prominent differences between the Hindu and the Gregorian calendar is the segregation of the time in each day. According to the Gregorian calendar, a day comprises 24 hours which is further divided into minutes and seconds. Every hour comprises 60 minutes. According to the Hindu calendar each day comprises 15 mahurats. Each mahurat has 48 minutes.
  • It is also an interesting fact that according to the Hindu calendar each day in a week is named after the planetary deities and is dedicated to a specific Hindu deity. For instance,
  • Somvar (Monday) is named after Moon God and is dedicated to Lord Shiva,
  • Mangalvar (Tuesday) is named after Planet Mars and is dedicated for Goddess Durga, Lord Ganesha and Bhagwan Hanuman
  • Budhwar (Wednesday) is named after planet Budh and is dedicated to Lord Vitthal.
  • Guruvar (Thursday) is named after planet Guru and is dedicated to  Lord Vishnu
  • Shukravar (Friday) is named after planet Shukra and is dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi
  • Shanivar (Saturday) is named after planet Shani and is dedicated to  Shani dev and
  • Ravivar (Sunday) is ) is named after planet Sun and is dedicated to the Sun God

According to the Gregorian calendar, the days of the week are named after Roman gods, as well as the sun and moon.


Conclusion

Time plays an important role in every living being’s life. Festivals and important religious and cultural days and their Tithis play a significant role in the formation of a calendar. The way a Hindu calendar is made according to the moon’s rotation around the earth similarly the Gregorian calendar is made according to the movement of the earth around the sun. Thus, the basic motto of any calendar is to have a clear picture of the time and to divide the year by balancing the solar and lunar month and by having a clear alignment of Hindu festival calendar, the mahurats all play a pivotal role while making a calendar.

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