India is a land of multiple cultures. Different languages are spoken in different areas. Similarly different methods of recording of time are practiced. The Gregorian calendar is used throughout
the world. The indian national calendar is a solar calendar. Apart from it various solar and lunar calendars are used in different areas for performing religious rituals.
The new year of National calendar started on 22 March 2006. Currently the Kali samvat is 5107, Saka 1928 and Vikram Samvat is 2063. In the Chaitradi calendar, which is popular in North India, the New Year started on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada on 30 March 2006. Let us have a look at the computations of various calendars and find when the New Year starts according to them.
In Gregorian calendar, a tropical year is considered one year whose span is 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46.08 seconds i.e. 365.2422 days. On the other hand the Indian calendars use Sidereal Year due to computations based on Sun and Moon. Its span is 365 days 6 hrs 9 minutes 12.96 seconds i.e. 365.2564 days. This is greater than Tropical year by 20 minutes 26.88 seconds. In Sidereal Year earth comes back to original position with respect to fixed whereas in tropical year it comes back to same position with respect to Sun.
National Calendar : This calendar is based on the solar month. The Government of India started it on 22 March 1957. In this calendar the first month Chaitra starts on 22 March and this month has 30 days but in the Leap year the New Year starts on 21 March and Chaitra has 31 days. As Sun crosses a sign between Aries to Virgo in 30.5 days, therefore all months between Vaishakh to Bhadra have 31 days while all months between Ashwin to Phalgun have 30 days. The leap year in this calendar is like Gregorian calendar.
Apart from national calendar, there are various solar and lunar calendars that are in use in India. In these calendars, the month begins with solar ingress and a month may have 29 to 32 days.
Punjabi/Oriya Calendar : In this system the month begins on solar ingress. If the ingress is before rise of Sun then the month starts on previous day. The year starts by solar ingress of Aries.
Tamil Calendar : In this calendar if ingress is before sunset the month begins on the day of ingress otherwise the month starts on next day. The year starts on Aries solar ingress.
Malyali Calendar : If ingress is before afternoon, the month begins on the day of ingress otherwise it begins on next day. The period after passing of 18 ghatis is called afternoon. In this calendar the names of months are same as zodiac signs. The year starts with entry of Sun in Leo.
Bengali Calendar : If the ingress is between sunrise and midnight, the month starts from next day otherwise from next day (3rd day) from it. The year begins with solar ingress of Aries.
Nepali Calendar : If solar ingress is after afternoon, the month starts from same day otherwise it starts from the previous day. The year starts with Aries ingress and month of Vaishakh.
The lunar months are of two types either ending on Amavasya (New Moon) or Poornima (Full Moon). There are 2 fortnights in a lunar month, bright and dark. Every fortnight has 15 days. The names of months are based on constellations where Sun resides. For example the month Chaitra is named after constellation Chitra, Vaishakh after Vishakha.
Chaitradi Calendar : In this calendar the month ends on Full Moon. It is popular in North India in U.P., Bihar, M.P, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu-Kashmir. It is also used somewhat in Haryana, Punjab and Orissa. In this calendar the month begins with 1st tithi (pratipada) of Dark Half (based on sunrise) and ends on Full Moon of Bright Half. The year starts on pratipada (1st tithi) of Bright Half in the month of Chaitra.
Kartikadi Calendar : In this calendar the month starts on first day of Bright Half (based on sunrise) and ends on amavasya (New Moon). It is popular mainly in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnatak and Andhra Pradesh. The year starts on first day of Kartik bright half i.e. from next day of Deepawali.
Muslim Calendar : In this calendar the month begins with sighting of Moon and the date starts at sunset. In practice the month begins on next day of sighting of Moon. The year has only 354 days therefore the new year starts 11 days earlier than the previous year. In this way in span of 33 gregorian years 34 muslim years are spent.
In 2006 the new year of various calendars has started /will start as below:
National Calendar : 22 March, Chaitradi-30 March, Kartikadi-23 October, Punjabi/Oriya- 14 April, Tamil-14 April, Malyali-17 August, Bengali-15 April, Nepali-13 April, Muslim-31 January.