The Indian Calendar

With around 30 religious calendars widely used in India in 1952, the Indian government decided it was about time for a National Calendar of India for civil purposes and for a standardised computation of the religious calendar based on astronomical observations. The civil calendar was set up in 1957 based on the Shalivahana lunisolar calendar with a New Year’s day festival called Ugadi in the Deccan region of India and Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra state. The first month, Caitra, is 30 days long with an extra day added in leap years. The next five months have 31 days, then rest have 30 days. Leap years in the Indian calendar match the Gregorian calendar. Years in the Indian calendar are counted from the equinox of 22nd March, 79 CE which is 1st Caitra, year 1 in the Saka Era. The re-formed Indian calendar began with Saka Era, 1st Caitra, 1879, corresponding to 22nd March, 1957. Days begin at sunrise. Note: I understand the Vikram Samvat calendar might become the new National Calendar for India as it is for Nepal but, to an outsider, it really doesn’t seem an improvement as it would be very diffficult to decide which version to choose (see below).


Day:    Month:  Year:

Day:    Month:  Year:
       Before Dawn

Day of the Week:        Day of the Week:



 1  January  7  July
 2  February  8  August
 3  March  9  September 
 4  April 10  October
 5  May  11  November
 6  June 12  December 

 1  Caitra  7  Asvina
 2  Vaisãkha  8  Kãrtika
 3  Jyaistha   9  Agrahayana 
 4  Asãdha 10  Pausa
 5  Srãvana 11  Mãgha
 6  Bhãdra 12  Phãlguna

In Gujarat, the Vikram Samvat calendar is used to identify auspicious days and holy schedules for every faith, fairs, occasion and festivals. It begins the year on the first day after the new moon in the month of Kartak (a day after Diwali which is the autumn month. The Vikram Samvat year is 57 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar and 56 years ahead for January to April. The Vikrama Samvat calendar was founded by the emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain following his victory over the Shakas in 56 BCE. It uses a solar sidereal year but divides it into 12 lunar months, each consisting of 29 days 12 hours 44 minutes and 3 seconds. All together a lunar year of 354 days 8 hours 48 minutes and 36 seconds. To fix the lunar months into the solar year( because 60 solar months = 62 lunar months) there is a practice of adding an extra month which is called Adhik Mahino or Purushottam maas every 30 months.

In the VS calendar, seasons are as per the sun, months as per the moon and days as per both the sun and the moon. Lunar days or tithis can have various lengths as they are measured as the time it takes for the longitudinal angle between the moon and the sun to increase by 12o. However sometimes a tithi is omitted or sometime two continuous days share the same tithi. The difference between Gujarati VS Calendar year and northern Indian VS Calendar year is that in northern India the same Vikram Samvat calendar starts with the first day after the new moon in the month of Chaitra which is the spring month. On the other hand in Nepal where Vikram Samvat (Bikram Sambat) is the official calendar the year begins in the following spring month, Baishakh (Indian, Vaishakh). The Nepali BS calendar uses a solar tropical year.