Retreat Days in Samkalpa

Let us understand what are retreat days. During the reading or pronunciation of the Samkalpa, there are a certain tithis that are not considered conducive for study or beginning new efforts. Such tithis fall under the time of retreat. They can be said to roughly fall on the modern ‘weekends’, since they usually occur in pairs four times a month, but it is not a necessary fact at all times. The retreat tithis are Ashtami, Navami, Amavasya, Prathama and Purnima. Each has its own special nature. Purnima (full-moon day) is especially good for worship. Amavasya (new moon day) is conducive to meditation. For many devout Hindus, Amavasya and Purnima are times of vrata, observing religious vows.
Prathama, the tithi following both Purnima and Amavasya, is generally a good day for seminars and philosophical discussions. Ashtami and Navami are ideally reserved for rest and relaxation. Ashtami is traditionally a day for fasting and not a good day for learning. (In western astrology, Ashtami
would be recognized as a square aspect between the sun and the moon, a configuration which can make for a difficult day.) Ashtami is considered inauspicious for beginning new activities because of the inharmonious energies existing due to the relationship between the sun and moon.
In Vedic Calendar, retreat days are noted in the upper left corner of the day’s designations. Retreats are labeled “Retreat Star,” with the exception of those occurring at full-moon time. These retreat days have special names. Purnima is the Copper Star Retreat, Prathama is the Silver Star Retreat. In
addition, approximately every other moon the Dvitiya tithi following the full moon is taken as a retreat day at Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. It is the Gold Star Retreat.
Each “work day” in the monastery is noted by a large number in the upper left corner of the day. This number indicates the number of the day of that phase (or quarter) of the moon. The first day after the retreat is number one, and so on.
A karana is half of a tithi or lunar day. There are sixty karanas in one lunar month, but only eleven distinct names are used. The current karana is the third item in the second column of each day’s designations. The first karana ends at the middle of the tithi and the second karana ends with the ending of that tithi. Like the yoga, the karana is a factor used by astrologers for determining the auspiciousness of the day for a given activity. The names of the karanas are: Bava, Balava, Kaulava, Taitila, Gara, Vanij, Visti, Sakuni, Chatuspada, Naga and Kimtughna.