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Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha Meet Considers Revision of Current Hindu Festival Dates

A recently concluded meeting of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha at Hyderabad, India, touched upon the need for the establishment of an Institute of Hindu Heritage Studies and Research to produce research work and publications of high academic standard, to stand rigorous scrutiny. But the most important idea that emerged during the meeting is the setting up of a Rashtriya Jyotish Goshti to rework panchangams or Hindu Almanacs with the help of the best available experts in astronomy, mathematics and astrology.

Prakash Belawadi writes on this topic sarcastically in DNA

Swami Gangadharendra Saraswathi of Suvarnavalli Mutt in Sirsi is actually working on precisely such a project to reorient the Hindu calendars with astronomy and mathematics.

The research and rewriting is being coordinated by S Balachandra Rao, author of several books on astronomy and a retired professor of mathematics and former principal of National College, Basavanagudi.

What the professor wants is astonishingly simple and radical. He wants the first Hindu festival in the calendar, Sankranti or Pongal, to actually be the last in a year. He believes the original traditional texts of scholars like Aryabhatta and Varahamihira account for the precise shift in the earth’s axis, which shifts by one degree every 72 years, So, Sankranti needs to coincide with the scientific Winter Solstice on December 22.

Vijayalakshmi Vijayakumar, a passionate Hindu traditionalist, has been working with the swamis’ sabha to agree to this change. “When the date of Pongal is fixed wrongly, then all other Hindu festival dates are also wrongly fixed. Hence, the significance of celebrating the festival is lost.” She believes that this has led to wrong farm practices, since the faithful believe the panchangas — like sowing in the wrong season — resulting in low yields of crops.

Her belief flows from Prof Rao’s work. She quotes Prof Rao: “Over a long interval of five to 10 centuries, the governing parameters of the heavenly bodies like distances and angular velocities have changed… Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop a uniform panchanga based on revised parameters and astronomical procedures.” He goes on the provide figures: “Due to the ‘precession of the equinox’ at about 50.25 seconds of arc per year, there is an accumulated amount of about 24 degrees. This means there is a difference of about 24 days… While Makara Sankranti is celebrated on January 14/15, the actual Uttarayana commences on December 22. Hence, farmers are sowing their seeds late, which is leading to a drop in the harvest.”

An attempt was earlier made by the Government of India to unify the calendars and almanacs used in India. But that calendar remains confined to a corner in government orders. You can read about this here in this earlier article - Are Hindu Calendars Faulty.