Survey of Tamil Panchangam

Tamil Panchangam is the set of calendar systems/ rules that is followed in the Tamil traditions.

This Tamil calendar uses the Sauramaana system for day to day time keeping and the Chaandramaana system for most festivals. Put another way, it uses Moon parameters to decide majority of special occasions and Sun parameters for pretty much the rest.

Picture of Moon and Sun with their relationship to special and ordinary daysTamil Panchangam: Moon for special days. Sun for the rest.

Within the Chaandramaana system, this tradition follows the Amaanta - Amavasya marks the end of a month.

There are indications that the Tamil traditions used to follow a purely Chaandramaana system in the past. For example the month names.

Tamil Calendar Month and Year

In Tamil calendar, year starts on Apr 13 or 14. And each Tamil month starts in the middle of the Gregorian month (between 13th & 17th of each month).

Image of Tamil months and the English months that each occurEach Tamil month starts around middle of English month

Drik vs Vakya Panchangam

There are two schools on Panchangam calculation. Drik (Ganita) Panchangam and Vakya Panchangam.

What's Vakya Panchangam ? The very basis of a Panchangam are the positions of heavenly bodies, especially Sun and Moon. In Vakya Panchangam system, the positions are calculated based on equations defined in ancient Jyotisha texts. Vakya = verses (of those texts).

Over the centuries, another school came up. Drik Panchangam. In this system, positions are calculated based on current observation. Drik = as seen.

Calculation differences between the two schools is minimal during Amavasya/Poornima and maximum around Ashtami.

In Tamil calendar traditions, there are about 25 different (paper) Panchangam. Each catering to a committed segment of the population.

Most of them are Vakya Panchangam. One such Vakya Panchangam is Pambu Panchangam. This is the one followed in my family traditions.

Pambu Panchangam

The name comes from the Pambu (snake) on its cover. Its full name is 28 Number Vakya Panchangam. I have been exposed to this since childhood.

And have always wondered what that 28 signifies. While researching for this article, spoke to the publishers of the Panchangam. So, I asked the meaning of 28.

Its a 28 page Panchangam. Oh! Why didn't I think of that before !

This Panchangam is being printed since 1883. Calculations are based on Thanjavur as the location.

Bhaarath Panchangam

Aastaana Madathu Bhaarath Drik Ganita Panchangam is of the Drik school. This is one of the few Drik Panchangam of the Tamil traditions.

This was first published in 1946. The Kanchi Shankara Math adopted it as its official Panchangam in 1952.

Timings are given in IST (as opposed to Naazhikai in Pambu). Chennai is the location for calculations.

Tamil Panchangam List

Here are a few Panchangams with year of first printing and location for which calculated.

Panchangam

Printed Since

Location

Pambu

1883

Thanjavur

Srirangam Kovil

1891

Srirangam

Maruthuvakudi

1900

Kanjanur, Kumbakonam

Bhaarath

1946

Chennai

Before printing, most of the traditional Panchangam were written in palm leaves.


Even within a regional system like Tamil Panchangam, there are many variations.

Credits: Thanks to the following for their inputs. Shri Ganesh Kumar & Shri Siva Kumar of Pambu Panchangam; Shri E K S Mani of Bhaarath Panchangam; Shri Ganesha Kutti Sastrigal of Srirangam Kovil Panchangam; Shri Subramanya Jyotishar of Maruthuvakudi Panchangam

› Tamil Panchangam

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