Whose New Year? Return to a Better Calendar

Sankrant Sanu calls for a better calendar for India on which India can celebrate new year. Our dissociation with the lunar cycles is also a dissociation from nature in secular modernity, itself an outgrowth of Christian theology.

In India we increasingly celebrate the New Year according to the Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory, who instituted it. A Calendar has scientific, social and cultural significance.  Other than synchronizing activity it is also used in every day life as a marker of seasons. A scientific calendar would both be an accurate predictor of seasons as well as be aligned with the cultural and social aspect of people. Is the Gregorian calendar scientific and appropriate for India, or are we celebrating the wrong New Year’s Day?

All major civilizations follow their own calendar and celebrate their own New Year’s day. The Chinese New Year is a huge social and national celebration of great traditional significance. Similarly Islamic countries mark their calendar from Hijrih  New Year per the Muslim Calendar. Israel celebrates Rosh Hashanah marking the beginning of the New year.  Western Countries follow the Gregorian calendar. The New Year in this calendar is first traced to the Roman New Year and then to Pope Gregory’s  linking it to the Feast of Circumcision, the eighth day after “Jesus’s Birth.”

Similarly, the years of the Gregorian Calendar are aligned with the belief that the world changed with the advent of Jesus Christ (hence “BC” and “AD” secularized into BCE and ACE now). “Secular” India, as in many other things, follows the Christian calendar as the official one.

Religious beliefs may be what they are, but could we have a scientific basis for a calendar instead? Is this Gregorian/Christian calendar better and more scientific than the Indian ones? Calendars matter as they affect daily life.  One noticeable aspect of the Gregorian calendar is that it is a solar calendar that ignores the phases of the moon, unlike the Hindu calendars. The latter are also sidereal, taking into account he position of the sun relative to the stars. How does this matter?

Many years ago I was visiting a friend Pawan Gupta, in Musoorie.  He had moved to the area after his graduation from IIT Kanpur to serve and educate rural people. He recounted many incidents where he ended up learning instead, and one stood in my mind.

He noticed that the villagers would align their sowing and harvesting with the festivals according to the Hindu calendar.  He dismissed this is superstition, till he made a remarkable discovery. The insect lifecycle was also aligned to the “Hindu calendar” since the latter followed lunar months. Insect fertility patterns were perhaps affected by the availability of light or by possible hormonal changes.  The lunar calendar aligned harvesting so that it would take place right before the big crop of insects would appear. This allowed cultivation with less pesticide use. Many scientific studies have now begun to trace tracing the effects of the lunar cycle on plants, animals and possibly even humans.

Pope Gregory

Pope Gregory

The Calendar also is a predictor of seasons. In India, which remains primarily agricultural, the correct prediction of the monsoon rains is of utmost importance.  As the brilliant mathematician C K Raju points out, the Gregorian Calendar may also be failing us in this regard. Often times we say the monsoon is “early” or “late” according to the Gregorian calendar, but the Indian calendar systems may be predicting the seasons more accurately. The Indian calendar uses the sidereal system, which also tracks the position of the sun relative to the stars, not just the position of the earth with respect to the sun.  He notes, in “Could India’s “Failed” Monsoon Have Been Predicted by the Right Calendar?” using a particular example:

At any rate, the monsoons have arrived on time according to the Indian calendar, since Rakhi too was “very late” this time, and the current month is still Srâvana. (The calendar we are talking about was calibrated for Ujjain, about 150 km from Bhopal.) The monsoons, however, are delayed by a month according to the Gregorian calendar: or, to put it differently, the Gregorian calendar has given the time of the monsoons in a grossly incorrect way. If the monsoons depend only on the tropical year, then, because of the difference between the tropical and the sidereal year, it is the Indian calendar that ought to have been out of phase by three weeks (around 21 days).”

He hypothesizes that this may indeed by relating to the accuracy of India’s sidereal Calendar, advocating further scientific study of this phenomenon:

The monsoons, thus, depend also upon the Coriolis force. The Coriolis force is an inertial force. The only possible inertial frame being a frame fixed relative to the distant stars, the Coriolis force hence relates to the sidereal motion of the earth. Thus it might be that the monsoons relate also to the sidereal year.’

It is worth noting that the Gregorian calendar itself is an attempt to fix up the earlier Christian calendar, which was the Julian calendar.  As a result of these errors, the Europeans were having severe problems in navigation and the Pope dispatched a team of Jesuits to India to learn the Calendar Systems. (This also related to the transmission of the differential Calculus from India to Europe that Raju has documented elsewhere).  But, as is often the case in copying, the Gregorian calendar does not appear to have reached the accuracy of the original Indian calendar in its scientific predictive abilities.

Yes, we persist with the Christian Gregorian Calendar as “modern” and scientific without much analysis or debate. This calendar is neither scientific nor culturally attuned to our festivals and celebrations.  Excluding the moon, it also excludes our relationship to the feminine aspect of nature, much as Christianity denied the feminine.  Female menstrual cycles also have been found to have a relation with the moon in recent scientific studies.

Our dissociation with the lunar cycles is also a dissociation from nature in secular modernity, itself an outgrowth of Christian theology. It is time to move from a religiously-based patriarchal Gregorian calendar to a truly modern and scientific one, not one based on “Jesus” but on cosmic events of scientific significance.  For India the Gregorian calendar is neither culturally nor scientifically relevant, and neither is its associated “New Year’s Day”.

Sankrant Sanu is an entrepreneur, author and researcher based in Seattle and Gurgaon. His essays in the book “Invading the Sacred” contested Western academic writing on Hinduism. He is a graduate of IIT Kanpur and the University of Texas and holds six technology patents. His latest book is “The English Medium Myth.” He blogs at sankrant.org .
  • SuchindranathAiyer

    India has had two Calendars since ancient times. The agricultural Druhyus followed the Solar Calendar while the Nomadic Aryas followed the Lunar Calendar. The Druhyus and the Aryas inter married and became one people in the Atharva Veda period that followed the death of 80% of Aryan Males in the Kurukshetra Civil War. Thereafter, both calendars continued. The Lunar came to be used for Aryan ritual (Ancestral Worship and Festival purposes) while the Solar continued for agricultural purposes. (The Brahma worshiping Aryas, a motley set of nomadic, pastoral, war like races and tribes from Prussia to Mongolia were Rig Vedic and united under a common constitution and laws. They came to the Indo-Gangetic plains in the transition from the Shukla Yajur to the Krishna Yajur Vedic periods and overlaid the Shiva, Vishnu and Lalitha worshiping Druhyus from the land of the three rivers (present day Tigris, Euphrates and Jordan)

  • kandan

    Fantastic presentation .But still , all of us are in colonial hangover ,moreover that itself became way of life,administrative system also accoustomed to this.
    then is it possible to place the things in lunar cycle.

  • Ramaswamy Lakshmanan

    Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati ………… various new year celebrations. Though some of us feel happy about it, when it comes to fixing one for the nation our egos will fight and compromise with English calendar. Just as Hindi ego prevailed over Sanskrit and finally gave the reins in the hands of English. Sigh!

  • Ananth Sethuraman

    Thank you for this article.

  • Sankrant. Thank you for a good “re-education”. Excellent and another small Dharma jigsaw in place. Well done to India Facts too. Excellent work.

  • Prasad

    Thanks a lot for such a good article. Please continue your efforts at exposing western lies and false hoods and the the real facts about what our country was in centuries past.

  • prashants5 .

    Kudos to Sankant Sanu for writing this article with many insights about the Scientific Hindu Calendar that is more aligned with the Nature and its various Process. This kind of articles must go to the mainstream media.

  • Sadanand Bhat

    Agree wholeheartedly with you Sankrant, I have recently started familiarising my children with the indian Panchanga and explaining the nuances of the lunar calendar. How I wish I had learnt about this if not in IIT atleast in my school days. I hope that the teaching of indian lunar calendar along with other Cultural topics make into the education curriculum before Year 10. Hope it happens in my life time, then again would the pseudo Intellectuals and demagogue politicians let it happen?especially when it is so Hindu and they want to sneak Christian values in and appropriate all Indian thoughts!!

  • VeVePe

    The seasons are related to the solar calendar. In the calendar of Vedic times, the solstices and equinoxes played an important role. The book “The Holy Science” by Swami Yukteswar (Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda) discusses the Vedic calendar and the Yugas – Satya, Treta, Dwapara & Kali.

  • China proudly celebrate Chinese New Year while dhimmi secularists and communists are ashamed of Indian New Year.

    These Communists in India should do a collective seppuku.

    • Savarkar’s Disciple

      Our idiotic Communists didn’t come up like Mao who was first a Nationalist.Most of these Indian Commies come from very well to do families.

      • IndiannotAmused

        Juta [Jyoti] Bose of Bengal-CPI [M] was a study in aristocratic arrogance……even within the Commies of Bengal. Communists are worse than Jihadis and Jesus-Mafia.

  • madhugauranga das

    Sankrant ji this year we r printing 1 lac calendars based on our vedic Panchang… This calendar also includes wht r the things to be eaten and to be avoided as per the months…it also includes some un known facts about cow therapy… Pls let me knw if any of you wants a copy of it… U can contact me on muru[email protected]

    • Jana krish

      Sir first i shld congratulate for the good work you are doing…it would be nice if people like you can teach young children about Indian astronomy based on the panchang
      .I’m sure many schools at least the hindu run schools will welcome it.

  • Santosh Gairola

    How much I wish we make an educational documentary- “Gregorian Calendar: Importing Stupidity”

  • Sandesh Anvekar


  • Savarkar’s Disciple
    • Dharma Youdha

      Great, thanks for the link !

      • सुनीत उमट

        Gratitude to Dr. C K Raju. Excellent information. Brilliant articulation. Magnificent presentation.