Panchang also known as Panchangam is a Hindu calendar and almanac, an annual calendar containing important dates and statistical information such as astronomical data and tide tables. In Hinduism, Panchang follows traditional units of Hindu timekeeping, and presents important dates and their calculations in a tabulated form. They forecast celestial phenomena such as solar eclipses, forecasting weather (rain, dry spells) as well as more mundane occurrences. The basic purpose of Hindu Panchangam is to check various Hindu festivals and auspicious time.
Panchang are published in India by many authors, societies, academies, and universities. The study of Panchangam involves understanding the impact of signs of the zodiac on individuals. There are several panchangas that contain information for more than one year. There is one, Vishvavijaya Panchāngam, that covers 100 years.
Panchangas are used in astrology. Astrologers consult the Panchangam to set auspicious dates for weddings, corporate mergers, and other activities as per their religion. The casting of a Panchang involves elaborate mathematical work involving high level of spherical geometry and sound understanding of astronomical phenomena, such as sidereal movements of heavenly bodies.
All followers and practitioners of Vedic astrology must know how to read a Panchangam and in this context it is necessary to know the terminology used in the Panchangam for different time slots of the day. Panchangas are also publish in English as Ephemeris – The Lahiris Ephemeris is most widely use, which gives all the details as contained in a traditional Panchangam published in Sanskrit or Hindi and all the regional languages of the country.
Accuracy of attributes depending upon the Moon’s motions were consider most crucial for the reliability of a panchangam, because the Moon is the fastest among all heavenly entities shown in traditional panchangas. Tithi, Nakshatra, Rāśi, Yoga, and Karana depend upon Moon’s motions, which are five in number.
Panchang is a Sanskrit word, literally meaning “having five limbs”. They are
- Tithi: Firstly the ending Moment (EM) of elongation of the Moon, the lunar day, the angular relationship between Sun and Moon. One Tithi equals 12 degree difference between Moon and Sun.
- Nakshatram: Secondly the EM of astarism of the day, that is, the stellar mansion in which Moon is located for an observer at the center of the Earth. One Nakshatra equals 13 degrees:20 minutes. There are 27 Nakshatra in 360 degrees.
- Yoga: Thirdly the EM of the angular relationship between Sun and Moon. One Yoga equals 13 degrees:20 minutes. There are 27 Yogas in 360 degrees.
- Karana: Fourthly the EM of half of a Tithi. One Karana equals 6 degree difference between Moon and Sun.
- Var: Lastly the seven weekdays
In Vedic astrology, the basic tenet of astrology was integrate with celestial events and thus was born various branches of Vedic astrology and the Panchang. In simple terms, Panchang means the Day, Nakshatra (Star), tithi, Yoga and Karana every day. It is a mirror of the sky. The document used as Panchang has evolved over the last 5000 years. The theories propounded in the two scriptures, Surya Siddhanta and Grahalaghava formed the basis for the plethora of calendars or Panchangas in the past in different regions of the country – a culturally complex system.
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