Panchanga

 

 

Panchanga is a handpainted almanac used by Indians for ages. Astrologers use this calendar to fix the date for festivals and determine auspicious timings for other events. Panchanga literally means ‘pancha anga’ or ‘five limbs’, referring to the five divisions of time in the luni-solar astronomical year commonly observed in India. These limbs may be the year, month, fortnight, tithi (lunar day), ghatika (divisions of a lunar day), vara (solar day) nakshatra, yoga, and karana. The last three terms refer to the passage of time measured by the movements of the stars.

Panchanga takes the form of a long, narrow, vertical scroll. It opens with a prayer (stuti) and traditionally has the drawings of the avataras of Vishnu (incarnations of Vishnu), zodiac signs and the nine planets. The main body of this handpainted scroll is devoted to complex numerical diagrams, while the fringes are decorated beautifully. The writing, penned in Devnagari, is black in color. The border illustrations are freely drawn folk images.

Following the folk tradition, panchangas have been made through the ages and show little signs of variation.

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