Astrology: Tamil Calendar

The Tamil calendar is a derivative of the old Hindu solar calendar and is based on the sidereal year (i.e. the time taken for one revolution of the Earth around the sun, or the mean time taken by the sun to return to the same position relative to the background of the fixed stars in the sky). In contrast, most other languages of India (Telugu, Hindi) use lunar calendars.

The Twelve Months

The Tamil new year usually falls in mid-April and the calendar consists of twelve months. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the number of days in a given month can vary between years. Moreover, Tamil months may even have 32 days. For example, the month of Vaikasi had 32 days in 1996 and 31 days in 1998. Similarly, Aani had 31 days in 1996 and 32 days in 1998.

The Tamil calendar is a sidereal Hindu calendar used by the Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent.[1][2] It is also used in Puducherry, and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Taml Nadu farmers greatly refer to this. It is used today for cultural, religious and agricultural events,[3] with the Gregorian calendar largely used for official purposes both within and outside India. The Tamil calendar is based on the classical Hindu solar calendar also used in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Odisha, Rajasthan and Punjab [4]

There are several festivals based on the Tamil calendar. The Tamil New Year follows the nirayanam vernal equinox[5] and generally falls on 14 April of the Gregorian year. 14 April marks the first day of the traditional Tamil calendar and this remains a public holiday in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. Tropical vernal equinox fall around 22 March, and adding 23 degrees of trepidation or oscillation to it, we get the Hindu sidereal or Nirayana Mesha Sankranti (Sun’s transition into nirayana Aries). Hence, the Tamil calendar begins on the same date in April which is observed by most traditional calendars of the rest of India – Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Odisha, Manipur, Punjab etc.[6] This also coincides with the traditional new year in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh Nepal and Thailand. The 60-year cycle is also very ancient and is observed by most traditional calendars of India and China, and is related to 5 revolutions of Jupiter according to popular belief, or to 60-year orbit of Nakshatras (stars) as mentioned in Surya Siddhanta.

The traditional Tamil year starts on 14 April 2019, Kaliyuga 5121. Vikrama and Shalivahana Saka eras are also used. There are several references in early Tamil literature to the April new year. Nakkirar, Sangam period author of the Neṭunalvāṭai, wrote in the third century CE that the sun travels each year from Mesha/Chitterai in mid-April through 11 successive signs of the zodiac.[7] Kūdalūr Kizhaar in the third century CE refers to Mesha Raasi/Chitterai i.e. mid-April as the commencement of the year in the Puṟanāṉūṟu.[8][9] The Tolkaapiyam is the oldest surviving Tamil grammar that divides the year into six seasons where Chitterai i.e. mid-April marks the start of the Ilavenil season or summer.[10] The 8th century Silappadikaaram mentions the 12 Raasis or zodiac signs that correspond to the Tamil months starting with Mesha/Chitterai in mid-April.[11] The Manimekalai alludes to this very same Hindu solar calendar as we know it today[12] Adiyarkunalaar, an early medieval commentator or Urai-asiriyar mentions the twelve months of the Tamil calendar with particular reference to Chitterai i.e. mid-April. There were subsequent inscriptional references in Pagan, Burma dated to the 11th century CE and in Sukhothai, Thailand dated to the 14th century CE to South Indian, often Vaishnavite, courtiers who were tasked with defining the traditional calendar that began in mid-April.[13]

The days of the Tamil Calendar relate to the celestial bodies in the solar system: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn, in that order. The week starts with Sunday.

This list compiles the days of the week in the Tamil calendar:

  1. ஞாயிற்றுக்கிழமை Nyayitru-kizhamai Ravi-vaasara Sun (ஞாயிறு) Sunday
  2. திங்கட்கிழமை thingat-kizhamai Soma-vaasara Moon (திங்கள்) Monday
  3. செவ்வாய்க்கிழமை Chevvai-kizhamai Mangala-vaasara Mars (செவ்வாய், Red Planet) Tuesday
  4. புதன்கிழமை bhudhan-kizhamai Budan -vaasara Mercury Wednesday
  5. வியாழக்கிழமை vyazha-kizhamai Guru Vaasara Jupiter Thursday
  6. வெள்ளிக்கிழமை VeLLi-kizhamai Sukra-vaasara Venus Friday
  7. சனிக்கிழமை sani-kizhamai Shani-vaasara Saturn Saturday
    For Tamils, each day begins at the sun rise.

The number of days in a month varies between 29 and 32.

The following list compiles the months of the Tamil Calendar.

No. Month (Tamil) Month (Transliteration) Sanskrit Name * Gregorian Calendar equivalent
01. சித்திரை Cittirai Chaitra mid-April to mid-May
02. வைகாசி Vaikāsi Vaisākha mid-May to mid-June
03. ஆனி Āni Jyaishtha mid-June to mid-July
04. ஆடி Ādi Āshāḍha mid-July to mid-August
05. ஆவணி Āvaṇi Shrāvaṇa mid-August to mid-September
06. புரட்டாசி Puraṭṭāsi Bhādrapada/Prauṣṭhapada mid-September to mid-October
07. ஐப்பசி Aippasi Ashwina/Ashvayuja mid-October to mid-November
08. கார்த்திகை Kārttikai Kārttika mid-November to mid-December
09. மார்கழி Mārkazhi Mārgaṣīrṣa mid-December to mid-January
10. தை Tai Pausha/Taiṣya mid-January to mid-February
11. மாசி Māsi Māgha mid-February to mid-March
12. பங்குனி Paṅkuni Phalguna mid-March to mid-April
Note: The Sanskrit month starts a few weeks ahead of the Tamil month since the Tamil calendar is a solar calendar while the Sanskrit calendar is a lunisolar calendar[14]

The Tamil year, in keeping with the old Indic calendar, is divided into six seasons, each of which lasts two months:

Season in Tamil Transliteration English Translation
இளவேனில் ila-venil Light warmth Vasanta Spring chithirai, vaigāsi Mid Apr – Mid Jun
முதுவேனில் mutu-venil Harsh warmth Grishma Summer āni, ādi Mid Jun – Mid Aug
கார் kaar Dark clouds, Rain Varsha Monsoon āvani, puratāci Mid Aug – Mid Oct
கூதிர் koothir Chill / Cold Sharada Autumn aippasi, kārthigai Mid Oct – Mid Dec
முன்பனி mun-pani Early mist / dew Hemanta Winter mārkazhi, tai Mid Dec – Mid Feb
பின்பனி pin-pani Late mist / dew Sishira Prevernal māsi, panguni Mid Feb – Mid Apr
Sixty-year cycle

The 60-year cycle is common to both North and South Indian traditional calendars, with the same name and sequence of years. Its earliest reference is to be found in Surya Siddhanta, which Varahamihirar (550 CE) believed to be the most accurate of the then current theories of astronomy. However, in the Surya Siddhantic list, the first year was Vijaya and not Prabhava as currently used. There are some parallels in this sexagenary cycle with the Chinese calendar.[15][16][17] The Surya Siddhanta and other Indian classical texts on astronomy had some influence on the Chinese calendar[18] although it merits attention that the sexagenary cycle in China is itself very old.

After the completion of sixty years, the calendar starts a new with the first year. This corresponds to the Hindu “century.” The Vakya or Tirukannitha Panchangam (the traditional Tamil almanac) outlines this sequence. It is related to the position of the planets in the sky with respect to earth. It means that the two major planets Sani/Saturn (which takes 30 years to complete one cycle round the sun) and the Viyazhan/Jupiter (which takes 12 years to complete one cycle round the Sun) comes to the same position after 60 years.

The following list presents the current 60-year cycle of the Tamil calendar:[19]

No. Name Name (English) Gregorian Year No. Name Name (English) Gregorian Year
01. பிரபவ Prabhava 1987–1988 31. ஹேவிளம்பி Hevilambi 2017–2018
02. விபவ Vibhava 1988–1989 32. விளம்பி Vilambi 2018–2019
03. சுக்ல Sukla 1989–1990 33. விகாரி Vikari 2019–2020
04. பிரமோதூத Pramodoota 1990–1991 34. சார்வரி Sarvari 2020–2021
05. பிரசோற்பத்தி Prachorpaththi 1991–1992 35. பிலவ Plava 2021–2022
06. ஆங்கீரச Aangirasa 1992–1993 36. சுபகிருது Subakrith 2022–2023
07. ஸ்ரீமுக Srimukha 1993–1994 37. சோபகிருது Sobakrith 2023–2024
08. பவ Bhava 1994–1995 38. குரோதி Krodhi 2024–2025
09. யுவ Yuva 1995–1996 39. விசுவாசுவ Visuvaasuva 2025–2026
10. தாது Dhaatu 1996–1997 40. பரபாவ Parabhaava 2026–2027
11. ஈஸ்வர Eesvara 1997–1998 41. பிலவங்க Plavanga 2027–2028
12. வெகுதானிய Vehudhanya 1998–1999 42. கீலக Keelaka 2028–2029
13. பிரமாதி Pramathi 1999–2000 43. சௌமிய Saumya 2029–2030
14. விக்கிரம Vikrama 2000–2001 44. சாதாரண Sadharana 2030–2031
15. விஷு Vishu 2001–2002 45. விரோதகிருது Virodhikrithu 2031–2032
16. சித்திரபானு Chitrabaanu 2002–2003 46. பரிதாபி Paridhaabi 2032–2033
17. சுபானு Subhaanu 2003–2004 47. பிரமாதீச Pramaadhisa 2033–2034
18. தாரண Dhaarana 2004–2005 48. ஆனந்த Aanandha 2034–2035
19. பார்த்திப Paarthiba 2005–2006 49. ராட்சச Rakshasa 2035–2036
20. விய Viya 2006–2007 50. நள Nala 2036–2037
21. சர்வசித்து Sarvajith 2007–2008 51. பிங்கள Pingala 2037–2038
22. சர்வதாரி Sarvadhari 2008–2009 52. காளயுக்தி Kalayukthi 2038–2039
23. விரோதி Virodhi 2009–2010 53. சித்தார்த்தி Siddharthi 2039–2040
24. விக்ருதி Vikruthi 2010–2011 54. ரௌத்திரி Raudhri 2040–2041
25. கர Kara 2011–2012 55. துன்மதி Dunmathi 2041–2042
26. நந்தன Nandhana 2012–2013 56. துந்துபி Dhundubhi 2042–2043
27. விஜய Vijaya 2013–2014 57. ருத்ரோத்காரி Rudhrodhgaari 2043–2044
28. ஜய Jaya 2014–2015 58. ரக்தாட்சி Raktakshi 2044–2045
29. மன்மத Manmatha 2015–2016 59. குரோதன Krodhana 2045–2046
30. துன்முகி Dhunmuki 2016–2017 60. அட்சய Akshaya 2046–2047
The months of the Tamil Calendar have great significance and are deeply rooted in the faith of the Tamil Hindus. Some months are considered very auspicious while a few are considered inauspicious as well. Tamil months start and end based on the Sun’s shift from one Rasi to the other but the names of the months are based on the star on the start of Pournami in that month. The name of the month is some times the name of the star itself. (e.g. Chithrai is always the star on the Pournami of the Chithirai month).

Some of the celebrations for each month are listed below. Dates in parentheses are not exact and usually vary by a day or two. Underneath (or beside) the months of the Hindu calendar are their Gregorian counterparts.[20][21]

Month Approx Dates Notes
சித்திரை – Chithirai 14 April – 13 May Star on the Pournami: Chithirai. Chitra Pournami & Varusha pirappu are the most important festivals in this month. Famous Chithirai Thiruvizha is celebrated in Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple. 14 April is the Tamil New Year.
வைகாசி – Vaikaasi 14 May – 14 June Star on the Pournami: Visaagam. Vaikaasi Visaakam is the most important day in this month.This month is most favorable month of Lord Subramainya (Murga Kadavul). Thirumangalam[Madurai] Shri Pathrakali Mariamman Temple 13day Vaigasi Festival starts at Sunday followed by vaigasi ammavasai[no moon day].
ஆனி – Aani 15 June – 15 July Star on the Pournami: Anusham. Aani Thirumanjanam or Aani Uttaram for Lord Nataraja is the most famous day in this month.
ஆடி – Aadi 16 July – 16 August Star on the Pournami: Pooraadam (or) Uthiraadam. A most important month for women. The most auspicious days are Fridays and Tuesdays in this month, these are called Aadi Velli and Aadi Chevvai and the Aadi Amavasya. Aadi Pooram is also a special day.18th day of adi is the most important day for the farmers (delta region) they prepare paddy seedlings.during this month “kanchi varthal” is famous in amman temples
ஆவணி – Aavani 17 August – 16 September Star on the Pournami: Thiruvonam. An important month with many rituals. Brahmins change their sacred thread on Aavani Avittam. Each Sunday of the month is dedicated to prayers – Aavani Gnayiru.vinayaka chaturthi ,the festival of lord ganesha is held in this month
புரட்டாசி – Purattaasi 17 September – 16 October Star on the Pournami: Poorattathi (or) Uthirattathi. An important month for Vaishnavas. Purattaasi Sani(Saturday) is an auspicious day for Lord Vishnu. Navarathri & Vijayadhashami or Ayuda Pooja is celebrated to invoke Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.
ஐப்பசி – Aippasi 17 October – 15 November Star on the Pournami: Ashwini. The monsoons typically start over Tamil Nadu in this month. Hence the saying, “Aippasi Mazhai, adai mazhai” – meaning “Aippasi rains are persistent rains”.
Also Annaabishekam for Lord Shiva is very famous in this month. The most famous Hindu festival “Deepavali” is celebrated in this month. The Fridays of this month – Aipassi velli – are dedicated to religious observance.

கார்த்திகை – Karthikai 16 November – 15 December Star on the Pournami: Karthikai. Another auspicious celebration for Shiva devotees is Thirukaarthigai. The Krithikaa Pournami is the special day of the full moon in the month of Kaarthikai, and the star is Krithikaa.
Each Monday of this month is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. Every Monday is called “Somavaaram” when 108 or 1008 sangabhishekam are offered to Lord Shiva and Lord Muruga.

மார்கழி – Maargazhi 16 December – 13 January Star on the Pournami: Mrigasheersham. This is another special month in the Tamil Calendar. Temples open earlier in the mornings and Devotees throng the temples early for puja and prasadam – the offering made to the deity which is later distributed to the devotees. Arudra Darisanam (Thiruvaadirai star in Tamil) is the most auspicious day in this month. The offering made to Lord Siva is the Thiruvaadirai Kali – a sweet boiled pudding. Mukkodi Ekathesi is called “Paramapadha vaasal Thirappu” for Lord Vishnu. The Tiruvembaavai and Thirupaavai fast takes place in this month.
தை – Thai 14 January – 12 February Star on the Pournami: Poosam. Pongal, which is the Tamil harvest festival, is celebrated on the first day of this month. Thaipusam is also a special day for Murugan devotees, who carry Kavadi to one of the Aarupadaiveedu (Literally meaning “six abodes”).
மாசி – Maasi 13 February – 13 March Star on the Pournami: Magam. Maasi Magam is the special day of which comes in this Month. Shivaratri is an important festival widely celebrated by Hindus in this month.
பங்குனி – Panguni 14 March – 13 April Star on the Pournami: Uththiram. Panguni Uthiram, the last month of the year, is a famous festival and special to Murugan and Siva devotees.