One thousand one hundred  and eighty five years ago, when none in the west knew about planets, namboodiries of Keralam made the first and only scientific calendar in the world! This followed accurate observation of the night sky, with naked eyes, so that they could predict the eclipse.(My grand mother could mention the time,simply looking at the night sky ).The elaborate calculations, involving calculus, is done without paper and pencil, using pebbles, the necessary technique having been handed over to the present day to one or two families.

The panchang is not merely a calendar. It shows planetary positions during the twelve months and includes prediction of monsoon rains and a lot information about njattuvelas as guidance for farmers. A njattuvela is a fortnight. Even in my childhood, our farmers could predict the coming of rains so that ploughing could start in advance!

Aryabhattan (a bhattadiri ) is credited with the necessary astronomical skills and Samkaracharya started the local era known as kollavarsham .The day was divided into sixty nazhikas. Each nazhika was divided into sixty vinazhikas. The method of determining a vinazhika using a vessel with a hole floated in water,has been prescribed in the Bhagavatam;it was a real surprise to me.In the panchang, time of the day, which begins with sun rise, not the idiotic midnight, is noted in terms of nazhika and vinazhika. Muhurth is also mentioned accordingly.Remember that, in the west, the year was divided into ten months initially.October, November and December denotes the eighth, ninth and tenth month. In contrast, in Malayalam panchang there is no leap year.Each year is calculated with accurate reference to the movement of the sun, obviating the need for a leap year.

Buy a panchang and see for yourself. Useful information in the panchang is reproduced in Malayalam calendars.


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