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Mohar of Gorkha king Prithvi Narayan Shah dated Saka Era 1685 (AD 1763)

The Indian national calendar, sometimes called the Saka calendar, is the official civil calendar in use in India. It is used, alongside the Gregorian calendar, by The Gazette of India, in news broadcasts by All India Radio and in calendars and communications issued by the Government of India.[1] The Saka calendar is also used in Java and Bali among Indonesian Hindus. Nyepi, the "Day of Silence", is a celebration of the Saka new year in Bali. Nepal's Nepal Sambat evolved from the Saka calendar.

The term may also ambiguously refer to the Hindu calendar; the Saka era is also commonly used by other calendars.

Calendar structure[edit]

*** Tropical zodiacs are according to the solar calendar and so two zodiacs are in the same Saka month

Month (Sanskrit) Length Start date (Gregorian) Tropical zodiac Tropical zodiac (Sanskrit)
1 Chaitra 30/31 March 22* Pisces-Aries Mīna-Meṣa
2 Vaishākha 31 April 21 Aries-Taurus Meṣa-Vṛṣabha
3 Jyēshtha 31 May 22 Taurus-Gemini Vṛṣabha-Mithuna
4 Āshādha 31 June 22 Gemini-Cancer Mithuna-Kadaga
5 Shrāvana 31 July 23 Cancer-Leo Kadaga-Siṃha
6 Bhādrapada 31 August 23 Leo-Virgo Siṃha-Kanyā
7 Āshwin 30 September 23 Virgo-Libra Kanyā-Tulā
8 Kārtika 30 October 23 Libra-Scorpio Tulā-Vṛścik‌‌‌a
9 Mārgashīrsha 30 November 22 Scorpio-Sagitarius Vṛścik‌‌‌a-Dhanur
10 Pausha 30 December 22 Sagitarius-Capricorn Dhanur-Makara
11 Maagha|Māgha 30 January 21 Capricorn-Aquarius Makara-Kumbha
12 Phālguna 30 February 20 Aquarius-Pisces Kumbha-Mīna

In leap years, Chaitra has 31 days and starts on March 21 instead. The months in the first half of the year all have 31 days, to take into account the slower movement of the sun across the ecliptic at this time.

The names of the months are derived from older, Hindu lunisolar calendars, so variations in spelling exist, and there is a possible source of confusion as to what calendar a date belongs to.

Years are counted in the Saka Era, which starts its year 0 in the year 78 of the Common Era. To determine leap years, add 78 to the Saka year - if the result is a leap year in the Gregorian calendar, then the Saka year is a leap year as well. Its structure is like the Persian calendar.


The calendar was introduced from Nepal Sambat by the Calendar Reform Committee in 1957, as part of the Indian Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, which also contained other astronomical data, as well as timings and formulae for preparing Hindu religious calendars, in an attempt to harmonise this practice.[citation needed] Despite this effort, local variations based on older sources such as the Surya Siddhanta may still exist.[citation needed]

Senior Indian Astrophysicist Meghnad Saha was the head of the Calendar Reform Committee under the aegis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Other members of the Committee were: A. C. Banerjee, K. K. Daftari, J. S. Karandikar, Gorakh Prasad, R. V. Vaidya and N. C. Lahiri. It was Saha’s effort, which led to the formation of the Committee. The task before the Committee was to prepare an accurate calendar based on scientific study, which could be adopted uniformly throughout India. It was a mammoth task. The Committee had to undertake a detailed study of different calendars prevalent in different parts of the country. There were thirty different calendars. The task was further complicated by the fact that with calendar religion and local sentiments were involved. India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in his preface to the Report of the Committee, which was published in 1955, wrote: “They (different calendars) represent past political divisions in the country…now that we have attained Independence, it is obviously desirable that there should be a certain uniformity in the calendar for our civic, social and other purposes and this should be done on a scientific approach to this problem.” [2]

Usage officially started at Chaitra 1, 1879 Saka Era, or March 22, 1957. However, government officials seem to largely ignore the New Year's Day of this calendar in favour of the religious calendar.[3]

See also[edit]


  • Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History by E.G. Richards (ISBN 0-19-282065-7), 1998, pp. 184–185.

External links[edit]

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