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ASTRONOMY TAMIL CALENDAR & TAMIL NEW YEAR

Sastri Venkataraman Sastri Venkataraman reviews the Tamil genius that understood the Lunar and Solar relationships in devising the Tamil Calendar in conjunction with 27 constellations 2000 years ago. He also indicates hoe the Tamil years starts in January based on astronomical findings as computed by the ancient Tamils. alr Did ancient Tamils have their own system of days, weeks, months and years? This question has been the subject of intense research over a great number of years. In fact, it was Tamil Culture, which introduced mankind to what would become modern astronomy and the modern calendar. Tamils drawing upon their vast knowledge of science, used astronomy to help calculate the calendar. They precisely determined the positions of the stars, the cyclical course of the Sun and the orbital paths of the Moon, and they based their calendar. THE TAMIL YEAR The ancient Tamils encapsulated the cycle of the seasons of rain, heat, cold, snow, the southwind and the north-wind, as Aandu, or a year. The Tamil root Aandu means to rule; accordingly the Tamils appropriately named the seasons to which he was subjected to as Aandu. The six seasons of the Tamils are: The milder hot season Elavehnil which consisted of the months of Thai and Maasi (approximately mid January to mid March). The peak hot season Muthuvehnil which consisted of the months of Panguni and Chithirai (approximately mid March to mid May). The Tamil Week Fascinated by the phenomena he witnessed and which a need to explain them, the ancient Tamils took terms he used in everyday life and Cloudy or rainy season Karr which consisted of the months of Vaikasi Aani (mid May to mid July). Cold season Koothir which consisted of the months of Aadi and Aavani (mid July to mid September). Evening dew season Mun Pani which consisted of the months of Purattasi and Aypasi (mid September to mid November). And morning dew season Pin Pani which consisted of the months of Karthigai and Margazhi (mid November to mid January). Tamils begin their year in the milder hot season Elavehnil. Accordingly the first month of the Tamil Calendar begins in Thai Maatham, or (14 January). It is on the first day of this month, (New Years Day), that the Sun enters the orbit of Capricorn (23.5*), pouring its light directly on to earth. From there, the Sun moves Northwards to reach the equator on the first of Chithirai, (mid April). Since Tamil Nadu is positioned near the equator, it experiences the season of maximum heat or peak summer, in the month of Aadi, (mid July), when the Suns rays directly hit on the Tropic of Cancer.

In Tamil, Kizhavan means the rightful owner and Kizhathi denotes the lady enjoying the natural ownership. The Tamils assigned Kizhamai to the Sun, the Moon, and the Planets. Because Kizhamai established Naatdu

transposed them to the heavens. For example, he named the creatures living in the water, which glimmered with a flashing light, as Mean, fish, elongating the verb Min, flash. Similarly the stars in the sky were given the name VinMean. Ancient Tamils were also able to distinguish other glimmering objects in the heavens from stars and called them Kohlkal, Planets. The Tamil word for planets is derived from the shape the planet takes. Ancient Tamils denoted this shape with the term Kohl, Planet which also refers to a sphere. Ancient Tamils were also able to identify the unique characteristics of the planets. For example, Mars, Sehvaai is reddish in colour due to what modern scientists attribute to the chemical changes of iron to ferrous oxide on the surface of the planet. However, without any modern scientific knowledge, ancient Tamils were able to pronounce this fact centuries ago. Similarly, modern scientists attribute the colour of Venus to the mineral silver oxide, found on its surface. Surprisingly, Tamils of the primeval age had discovered this fact, and appropriately named Venus as Vehlli, silver in Tamil. Ancient Tamils also were able to identify Bhuthan, (Mercury), Viyazhan, (Jupiter) and Neeradal, (Saturn). The Tamils integrated the Sun and the Moon, the eternal light of the world, and the other planets which they discovered, into their everyday lives by making the days of the week: Nyayiru (Sunday), Thingal (Monday), Sehvaai (Tuesday), Bhuthan or Arivehn (Wednesday), Viyazhan (Thursday), Vehlli (Friday) and Sani or Kaari (Saturday) and conjoining them into their day to day life.

the natural ownership, they also used the word Naal to indicate a natural day. Based on the courses of direction taken by the stars, the Moon, the Sun, and the Planets, ancient Pouranikas or persons well versed in astronomy, developed an almanac or Panchangam. Through several full moon, the new moon, solar eclipse and lunar eclipse too are happening exactly as per the predictions of the Panchangam, it now lie crippled in a mess of superstition through a series of foreign corruption. If concerted efforts are made to understand the nature of its contents, and how the Panchangam was calculated and prepared the significance of the Panchangam and the ancient Tamil Calendar can be fully appreciated. Month The Moon takes 30 days from waxing (to become full-Moon), to waning (to completely disappear). The Northern Indians called it Maasa. The Tamils called the visible Moon as Thingal and borrowing the Northern Indian term, named the duration for one cycle of waxing and waning of the Moon, Maatham or Thingal, (Month). Full-Moon Pournami The 15-days duration (from the time when a full-Moon is visible to the time it disappears) is termed Thei-pirai or a waning moon or a decrescent moon. The 15-days between the new moon and the full moon is termed Valar- pirai or a waxing moon or a crescent moon.

The days following the full-moon and the newmoon were termed the first-crescent, secondcrescent, third-crescent and so on, up to the fourteenth-crescent, which is also known as

Lion Maham, Pooram and Uthiram Virgin Uthiram , Ashtam & Chithirai Scale Chithirai , Swathi & Visakam Scorpion Visakam , Anusham & Kehttai

pirathamai, duvathiyai, kriyai, sashti, sapthami, ashtami, navami, thasami, ekathasi, dwathasi, triyohdasi, chathurthasi, respectively. When examined closely, it is clear that these names conform to first-crescent, second-crescent and so on. As the crescent days are also known as thithi, a phase of the Moon, the following are regarded as inauspicious; ashtami, the 8th crescent and navami, the 9th crescent are particularly considered to be unfavorable. In order in the path of the Moon in the night sky, the ancient Tamil Astronomers carefully identified 27 stars and the constellations. Ashwani, Bharani, Karthigai, Rohini, Mrigaseridam, Thiruvathirai, Punarpoosam, Poosam, Aayilyam, Maham, Pooram, Uthiram, Ashtam, Chithirai, Swathi, Visakam, Anusham, Kehttai, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthiradam, Thiruvohnam, Avittam, Sadhyam, Purattathi, Uthirattathi and Revathi. On each of the 27 days in a given day the Moon appears close to one of these stars. Thus the Tamils calculated the days of a month by combining the position of the stars and the course of the Moon. They were able to calculate the number of days of a calendar year on the basis of the direction of the Sun. The Tamils further divided the 27 set of stars into 12 constellations in order to accommodate the passage of the Sun through the stars, and gave names to each constellation. They united 2 asterism in each constellation. The name of each constellation and the asterism included in it are:Goat Ashwani, Bharani, Karthigai Bull Karthigai , Rohini, Mrigaseeridam Twins Mrigaseeridam , Thiruvathirai, Punarpoosam , Crab Punarpoosam , Poosam & Ayiliyam

Bow Moolam, Pooradam & Uthiradam MFishUthiradam, Thiruvohnam & Avittam Pot Avittam , Sadhyam & Pooratathi Fish Pooratathi , Uthirattathi & Revathi The original names given by the Tamils to the months are:Suravam (Thai) Capricornus (Maham) Kumbam (Maasi) Acquarius (Kumbam) Meenam (Panguni) Pisces (Meenam) Mezham (Chithirai) Aries (Mesha) Vidai (Vaigasi) Taurus (Rishaba) Erattai (Aani) Gemini (Erattai) Kadagam (Aadi) Cancer (Kataka) Madangal (Aavani) Leo (Simha) Kanni (Purattasi) Virgo (Kanni) Tulai (Aypasi) Libra (Tulaam) Nali (Karthigai) Scorpio (Nali) Silai (Margazhi) Sagittarius (Silai) The ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman astronomical calendars closely follow the calendar of the Tamils in that they celebrate their New year day within the 15-days of the month of Thai just as the ancient Tamils had. Thus the ancient Tamil Calendar served as a basis for the modern Western Calendar. Margazhi last day Bhogi Day Thai first day Tamil New Year Day (Pongal) Thai second day Thiruvalluvar Day Thai third day Farmers Day Thai forth day Iyal Tamil Day Thai fifth day Issai Tamil Day Thai sixth day Nataka Tamil Day Thai second day recognition of all farm animals Thai third day reinforcement of all bonds and relationships Thai 1st Day is Tamil New year

All the different communities in this world celebrate their New Year during the milder-hot season, (Elavehnil). The English, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Egyptians, the Romans and several others communities celebrate their New Year during the milder-hot season.