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How to read Panchanga

Here we make an attempt to describe the complex system of reading a panchanga for the benefit of a lay person and a novice. We do not claim that the following description is technically correct, as scholars would expect. This is intended to give a fair idea about reading a panchanga for the day-to-day needs.
Tithi, Waar, Nakshatra, Yoga and Karana are the vital among the several parameters of time measuring. The publication that describes these five parameters together is called panchanga. These five parameters are presented in the same order in any panchanga. Span of each of these parameters is different, so is beginning and ending of each of them.
Following is the method to read the panchanga for a particular day:
A typical page of the panchanga has the first horizontal row which gives shaka, samvatsara name, chaandra maasa, paksha (viz. shukla, the waxing phase of moon or krishna, the waning phase of moon), the particular Gregorian month and year, the Hizari year, Samvat year and the Parsi year. Second row has headings for the respective columns, which include tithi. Waar. Ending time of the tithi. Nakshatra, the constellation close to the Moon. Ending time of the Nakshatra (the time when the moon leaves the particular constellation. Yoga (a relatively complex parameter linked to positions of Sun and Moon). Ending time of yoga. Karana (the half portion of a tithi). Ending time of karana. Dinamaana, the time span between sunrise and sunset. Hizari year date. Sun rise. Sun set. Time of the moon entering a particular zodiac sign and the Gregorian date.
The next column in the same row contains raatrimaana (the gap between sunset and sunrise) of the last day of the relevant fortnight, the ayanansh, name of the prevailing ayana and ritu (season). Note: The panchangas measure the day continuously from a sunrise to another sunrise. That is, if the day begins with the sunrise at 06:20 hours, the time is measured continuously upto the next sun rise which may go beyond 24 hours’ count. So whenever one comes across the timing like 29:33 hours in the panchanga, just deduct 24 from it to get the next morning timing viz. 5:33 hours in this case.
Let us read the panchanga of, say, October 7th, 2000. Open the page containing October 7th, 2000.(refer to the Gregorian date column).



Refer to the uppermost row of the table.

It tells us that the particular date (October 7th, 2000.) falls under shaka 1921 which is the Pramaathi Samvatsara, the Hindu month of Aashwina, Shukla paksha - the waxing phase of moon.

The column on right in the second row

denotes that the day is in dakshinayana -the Sun moving towards (southern) makara vritta (the tropic of Capricorn) and the Sharad ritu.

The row for this date reads:

At the sunrise the tithi was navami, that is the 9th lunar date, and the weekday is Tuesday. The third column conveys the change of tithi. Here it changes at 8:25 hours and the dashami, the 10th lunar date of Ashwina begins.
Next column tells us that the moon is in Shravana nakshatra and it leaves the constellation at 11:53 hours.
The next ten columns if referred to their headings can be understood trivially. (In case of karana which the half part of a tithi, the Date Panchanga mentions only first half, since the second half ends with the end of the particular tithi. Yet it needs an expert’s advice to determine the karana for a particular moment.)
The next wide column to the Gregorian date contains the shastrartha for the day. For October 7th, 2000. it says that the day is Mahanavami and it is of navaratrotthapana -end of navaratra, the Vijaya Dashami or the Dasara Day. The rest of the information of the day continues elsewhere on the same page with a reference to the same Gregorian date in parenthesis.

To understand the general bearing of the particular day refer to the shubhaashubha divasa, auspicious-inauspicious days column placed next to the kundali -the chart on the page. There are a few vital things to be remembered while reading the panchanga. Among the tithis coming in succession, the missing number of tithi is always considered as kshaya or eliminated tithi. This is considered inauspicious. Similarly, when a tithi repeats it becomes vriddhi, additional tithi. This too is considered inauspicious. Among the inauspicious tithis are all the 13th and 14th tithis in krishna paksha - the waning phase of the moon, all the New Moon days and all the 1st tithi of shuddha paksha, the waxing phase of the moon.

Of all the constellations, Pushya is considered inauspicious for weddings while Bharani, Krittikaa, Aashleshaa and Vishaakhaa are considered inauspicious for a majority of tasks.

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