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Calculation of the date of Shivaratri

 tryambakam yajAmahe sugandhim puShTivardhanam 
 urvArukamiva bandhanAn mRtyor mukShIya mAmRtAt  ||
                            (Sri Rudra PraSna of the 
                              Krishna Yajur Veda )

  We worship Siva, the three-eyed God who has a sweet  
  fragrance. He nourishes (the devotees physically, 
  mentally and spiritually). May we be liberated  
  from agony of death just as a ripe cucumber gets  
  freed (slips away easily) from the stalk which binds it. 
  May we not be separated from Immortality. 

  namah somAya ca rudrAya ca namastAmrAya cAruNAya ca 
  namah SangAya ca paSupataye ca nama ugrAya ca bhImAya
  ca namo agrevadhAya ca dUrevadhAya ca namo hantre ca
  hanIyase ca namo vRkShebhyo harikeSebhyo namastArAya
  namah SambhavAya ca mayobhavAya ca namah SankarAya ca
  mayaskarAya ca namah SivAya ca SivatarAya ca ||
                            (Sri Rudra PraSna of the 
                              Krishna Yajur Veda )

  Obeisances to Siva who is known as soma because He has 
  all opulences, Rudra because He makes the wicked weep,
  tAmra because He abhors sin, aruNa because He practices
  all virtues, Sanga because He provides food, PaSupati
  because He protects the cows and other animals, ugra 
  because He is fierce to look at, Bhima because He is 
  awe-inspiring, agrevadha because He kills (the enemy)
  from the front, dUrevadha because He kills (the enemy)
  from afar, hantR because He destroys (the wicked),
  hanIyas because He destroys the evil-minded enemies, the
  green-haired warriors, tAra because He delivers (us) from
  misery, Sambhava because He is the source of happiness, 
  Mayobhava because He is the source of delight, Sankara 
  because He is the bestower of happiness, Mayaskara 
  because He is the bestower of delight, Siva because He is
  All Auspicious, Sivatara because He is the Most Auspicious
 I posted the following a year ago. I am reposting it     
 mutatis mutandis. 

 Note :  In the first part of this series, I described the 
 method for calculating Sri Vinayaka Chaturthi in a foreign 
 country. This part deals with the correct date calculation of
 Shivaratri. This year Maha Shivaratri is to be observed on 
 February 27,(1995) in North America. 

 The Hindu Calendar or Panchanga usually lists the dates of
 observances or festivals based on calculations for a particular
 place. For example, a Panchanga prepared in Pune gives  the 
 dates of observances that are actually for Pune and a Panchanga
 prepared in Mysore gives dates for Mysore. However, India is a 
 tropical country with only one time zone, and the variation in    
 latitude and longitude will not, in most cases, affect the dates
 as given in the Panchanga. But the dates must be recomputed for 
 a distant place in a foreign country , say New York, USA, so that   
 a person staying in  the  distant place  may observe the festivals and
 other religious events correctly.  

 In what follows, I discuss the calculation of dates of some of the
 important religious festivals and observances based on the lunar 
 calendar (Chaandramaana). The lunar month has  30  lunar days, 
 consisting of a bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) and a dark fortnight
 (Krishna Paksha). Each fortnight consists of 15 lunar days or 
 15 tithis. A period of one lunar month is said to have elapsed when 
 the moon,  beginning from the celestial longitude of the sun completes
 one revolution around the zodiac and coincides with the position      
 (celestial longitude) of the sun. The celestial longitude of a
 celestial body is the position of the body in the zodiac and is 
 expressed in degrees of arc, minutes and seconds. So the celestial
 longitude is a value between 0 and 360 degrees. 

 What determines the lunar tithi is the DIFFERENCE between the celestial
 longitude of the moon and the celestial longitude of the sun.
  If the difference is           then the tithi is: 
  0-12                             Pratipada (Shukla Paksha Begins)
  12-24                            Dvitiya 
  24-36                            Tritiya 
  36-48                            Chaturthi or Chauti
  48-60                            Panchami
  60-72                            Shashthi 
  72-84                            Saptami
  84-96                            Ashtami
  96-108                           Navami
  108-120                          Dashami
  120-132                          Ekadashi 
  132-144                          Dvadashi 
  144-156                          Trayodashi
  156-168                          Chaturdashi 
  168-180                          Poornima (Shukla Paksha ends)
  180-192                          Pratipada (Krishna Paksha begins)
  192-204                          Dvitiya 
   etc                              etc 

  348-360                          Amavasya (Krishna Paksha ends)

  Example 1: The celestial longitudes  of the moon and the sun are 
  256 degrees 45 mins and 121 degrees 22 mins respectively. 
  What is the lunar tithi? The difference is 135 degrees 23 mins.
  The tithi is Shukla Paksha Dvadashi. 

  Most Panchangas give the ending times of tithis in local time 
  or standard time. In such cases, it suffices to compute the 
  the duration of a tithi at the place where one is residing. 

  Example 2: A person is residing in New York, USA but has a Panchanga 
  which was prepared in India. The Panchanga gives the ending of    
  Krishna Paksha Trayodashi as 04 hrs 45 mins Indian Standard Time (IST)
  on Jan 3, and the ending of Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi as 04 hrs 
  30 mins (IST) on Jan 4. What is the duration of the Chaturdashi IN 
  NEW YORK ?  New York follows EST on the dates involved. EST is 
  10 hrs 30 mins behind IST. This means the ending of the Trayodashi 
  is at 18 hrs 15 mins EST (28 hrs 45 mins - 10 hrs 30 mins) on 
  Jan 2 and the ending of the Chaturdashi is 18 hrs EST (6 PM) on Jan 3.  

  The Hindu day begins at sunrise (and not 12 Midnight) and ends 
  at the following sunrise. Local newspapers usually give  sunrise and 
  sunset times as part of the weather report. The period from sunset to
  the following sunrise is calculated first. Adding 2/5ths and 3/5ths of
   this period gives the beginning and ending of Madhya Ratri Kaala or 
   Nisheetha Kaala.  

  Example 3: Sunset on Jan 2 and sunrise on Jan 3  in New York are
  respectively at 16 hrs 27 mins and 7 hrs 27 mins. The difference 
  is 15 hrs 0 mins. Dividing 15 hrs 0 mins by 5 gives 
  3 hrs 0 min. So Nisheetha Kaala extends from (16hrs 27 mins +
  6 hrs ) to (16hrs 27 mins + 9 hrs) ie, from 22 hrs 27 mins on
  Jan 2 to 1 hr 27 mins on Jan 3. 

    Most Hindus celebrate Maha Shivaratri on the fourteenth lunar tithi of
    the dark fortnight of the month of Magha. Some Hindus also 
    follow the custom of worshiping Shiva on the 14th lunar tithi
    of the dark fortnight of every month, not just Magha.  The
    rule for computing the date on which Shivaratri is to be observed
    is as follows:

    On any day, if  (Magha) Krishna Chaturdashi prevails during the
    Nisheetha Kaala, then Shivaratri is to be observed on that 
    night. If (Magha) Krishna Chaturdashi prevails during two successive
    Nisheetha Kaalas then Shivaratri is to be observed on the day on
    which Trayodashi ends. If (Magha) Krishna Chaturdashi does not  
    extend over the Nisheetha Kala of any day, then Shivaratri is
    to be observed on the day Chaturdashi ends.  

    Example 4:  Consider the data in Example 2 and Example 3 above. 
    When should Shivaratri be observed by the person in New York?
    The Krishna Chaturdashi extends from 18 hrs 15 mins on Jan 2 to 
    18 hrs  on Jan 3 in New York. From Example 3, it is known that 
    Nisheetha Kaala on Jan 2 is from 22 hrs 27 mins to 25 hrs 27 mins.
    This means Shivaratri is to be observed on Jan 2 in New York.
    When should Shivaratri be observed by a person in India ?
    From the data in Example 2, Krishna Chaturdashi prevails during the
    entire period of daylight on Jan 3 and ends at 04 hrs 30 mins on
    Jan 4. In this case, a person in India would observe 
    Shivaratri on Jan 3. 

    From the example above, it can be seen that the same observance 
    can possibly  be on different dates in different places. So one  
    must apply the rule mentioned above to  calculate the correct 
   This year (1995), Magha Krishna Chaturdashi begins at about 
   9:30 AM on February 27 and ends at about 7:30 AM on Feb 28, the
   times in EST. Since this period includes the Nisheetha Kala of 
   practically every place in North America, Maha Shivaratri must be 
   observed on the night of Feb 27.  
   Note: In the foregoing discussion, I have assumed the Amaanta 
   system of lunar calendar, whereby the lunar month consists of 
   the Shukla Paksha  followed by the Krishna Paksha.


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