Astrology remains an integral part of many lives in India. One important way Indians stay connected is through the "Panchanga," a fivefold breakdown of daily energy. It is a powerful forecasting tool that shows auspicious times to perform actions. It includes:
1. The Nakshatra, the area of sky the Moon is in that day.
2. The Vara, that day's planetary ruler.
3. The Tithi (lunar day), the ending moment of elongation of the Moon.
4. The Yoga, the angle between the Sun and Moon.
5. The Karana, the ending moment of half a Tithi.
Each of these Panchanga elements refers to a different aspect of the day. When an astrologer understands this, he and she can give expert advice regarding the auspicious timing of life events. Many Indians realize this and consult a trusted astrologer regularly.
Of all the facets of Vedic astrology, the Panchanga is the most ancient. It originated thousands of years ago from a text called the "Vedanga Jyotisha" in the Krishna Yajur Veda, a book that discusses the best time to perform the most important affairs in life.
Holidays, Celebrations and Birthdays
Whether modern Indians realize it or even care, their festivals and celebrations also revolve around astrology. The nine nights of the Divine Mother Festival (Maha Navratri) begins each year on the new Moon in the month of Asvina. It culminates on the tenth day with a celebration called Vijayadashami, or "victorious tenth day."
These are lunar days, not solar days. This means they are not based on the notion of sunrise to sunrise equaling one day (ie. a solar day), but rather on each day of the Moon -- approximately 12 degrees 30 seconds of lunar movement.
In India, birthdays are traditionally celebrated on the same day as the lunar Nakshatra in the month a person was born, rather than on the exact birthday itself. So for example, if a person was born January 12, 1980 in New Delhi at 1pm, that person's birth star would be Swati, in the month of Pausa. As a result, he or she would celebrate their birthday not on January 12 each year, but in the month of Pausa on the day the Moon is in Swati. So, if an Indian male hopes to avoid a "birthday argument," he will know his partner's Nakshatra and where the Moon is during the month of Pausa -- not just the day his partner was born!
It is customary for revered souls to have their birthday celebrated every year when the Moon goes through their birth Nakshatra. In this way, devotees of the modern Indian religious figure Ammachi -- known internationally as the "hugging saint" -- celebrate her birthday each month the Moon goes through the Nakshatra of Krittika, her birth star.
Even after thousands of years of plundering, Vedic culture remains preserved because its earliest astrologers were master forecasters, writing their books and building their temples at the correct time. It proudly remains as much of a useful life management tool today as when it began.
In vedic astrology the signs are referred to by their Sanskrit names. Learn all about the power of the signs.