In India, several states use a solar-year calendar while others use the lunar-year calendar. In all states the lunar calendar is used for determining the dates of religious festivals and for selecting auspicious times for beginning many socio-religious activities. Vedic Calendar uses both the solar month and the lunar month and would be known as a “luni-solar calendar.” For business purposes and modern convenience we also use the Gregorian year which follows neither a solar month nor a lunar system.
The Hindu astronomical text, Surya-Siddhanta, defines the solar month as the time it takes the sun to traverse one rasi (Zodiac sign), measured from the time of entry into one rasi (this point is known as a samkranti) and the next. The point when the sun enters Mesha (Aries) rasi is widely accepted as
the beginning of the year. Thus the first solar month is called Mesha in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit names of the solar months are listed in Vedic Calendar. Each is named after the sign of the zodiac that the sun is in. Their names are Mesha (Aries), Vrshabha (Taurus), Mithuna (Gemini), Kataka (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Thula (Libra), Vrschika (Scorpio), Dhanus (Sagittarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Meena (Pisces). The Sanskrit name of the current solar month is found at the top of each day’s notations, in the middle preceded by the word ‘mase’.
The lunar month is measured either by the period covered from one new- moon to the next, known as the amanta or mukhya mana system, or from one full- moon to the next one, known as the purnimanta or gauna mana system. Vedic Calendar uses the purnimanta lunar month system. Each
lunar month is simply named Moon 1, Moon 2, Moon 3, etc. The very top of each calendar page shows these notations.
In India and other parts of the world, those who follow a panchang strictly, such as Vedic schools, known as “gurukulams” or “pathasalas,” live their life by the lunar month termed as “moon” or masa.
LIGHT AND DARK FORTNIGHT—PAKSHA
One orbit of the moon around the earth makes a month. In Hindu measuring of time, this period is divided in two parts, the light fortnight, called shukla paksha (or sudi), and the dark fortnight, called krishna paksha (or vadi). Shukla Paksha is the period when the moon is waxing, beginning on the new moon (Amavasya) and extending to the full moon (Purnima). Krishna paksha, the period when the moon is waning, begins after the full moon and extends to the new moon. Knowing whether the
moon is waxing or waning is helpful in understanding the moon’s current influence. Under the waxing moon, we are generally more energetic, as moon’s forces are on the rise, indicating growth and development.
THE MOON SIGN OR RASI
In Vedic Calendar, the Zodiac sign that the moon is currently passing through is named by the rasi. It lists the degree of the sign of the moon at 6:00 AM. For example, “Kataka (Cancer) Rasi 1.4” means that the moon is at 1.4 degrees Cancer at 6:00 in the morning. The moon travels approximately 12° per day. For gardening, the moon sign is useful in determining planting, harvesting, fertilizing and other gardening activity dates. The first column of each day shows the rasi. The moon takes a little over two and one-half days to traverse one zodiac sign. The rasis are Mesha (Aries), Vrshabha
(Taurus), Mithuna (Gemini), Kataka (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Thula (Libra), Vrschika (Scorpio), Dhanus (Sagittarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Meena (Pisces).