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Explanation of upAkarma dates

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Sun Aug 13 2000 - 18:42:53 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas,

I have received several emails expression confusion
over the upAkarma and gAyatrI japa dates for this year.
Please rest assured that what I wrote earlier is 
correct.  My calculations apply to all traditions, 
whether Sri Vaishnava, smArta, mAdhva, etc. With this 
email, I hope to explain the matter further and settle 
the issue.

Here is the problem. Indian panchAngams have the
upAkarma and gAyAtri japam as being the same day,
Tuesday, August 15. This is correct for *India*,
but not correct for other places, such as 
the US and Singapore.

The fundamental axiom is this: rites and festivals
should be observed according to when the astronomical
phenomena (sunrise, phase of moon [tithi], nakshatra, 
etc.) occur in your part of the world.

The Apastamba sUtra clearly specifies that yajur
upAkarma should be performed in the afternoon 
(aparAhna) on the day of the full moon (paurNami) 
in the lunar month of SrAvaNa.

It is also a settled matter that the gAyatrI japam
should be performed on the first day after this
full moon (prathamA).

With this in mind, let's first look at the dates and 
times for the US, taking San Francisco as an example.

San Francisco:
   Monday, August 14:
      Sunrise: 6:25 AM
      paurNami lasts until 9:23 PM

   Tuesday, August 15:
      Sunrise: 6:26 AM
      prathamA lasts until 11:21 PM

Clearly, paurNami lasts the whole day on August 14
in San Francisco (and New York, and all places in
between). So upAkarma must be done on August 14
in the US.

prathamA lasts the whole day on August 15 in the
US.  So gAyatrI japa must be done on August 15 
in the US.  This is no uncertainty about this.

Now, let's look at Singapore, to use another example:

Singapore:
   Monday, August 14:
      Sunrise: 7:06 AM
      caturdaSI lasts until 11:11 AM
   
   Tuesday, August 15:
      Sunrise: 7:06 AM
      paurNamI lasts until 1:21 PM

   Wednesday, August 16:
      Sunrise: 7:06 AM
      prathamA lasts until 3:12 PM

With Singapore, things are more complicated, because
the paurNamI is split over two days, August 14 after
11:11 AM and August 15 before 1:21 PM.  What do we do
in this case?

Srimad Azhagiya Singar has taken note of this issue
and given a solution based on the smRtis. When the 
paurNamI is split over two days, if there are 12 or
more nADikAs (nAzhigai / ghaTika) of paurNamI on the
second day, the second day should be reckoned as
the correct upAkarma day.  One nADikA is 24 minutes.
So, after sunrise, there has to be at least 
24 x 12 = 288 minutes (4 hr, 48 minutes) of paurNami 
on the second day if it is to be reckoned as the 
upAkarma day. (The reasoning is that since upAkarma
 is to be done after noon, some paurNami should exist 
at this time for correct observance).

In Singapore on August 15, paurNami lasts for 
6 hrs and 15 minutes after sunrise. So, clearly,
upAkarma should be on August 15 in Singapore.

What about gAyatrI japa? Srimad Azhagiya Singar,
citing previous authorities, writes that if there
are between 12 and 15 nADikAs of paurNami on the
second day, both upAkarma *and* gAyatrI japa 
should be observed on this same day. Here, we have
more than 15 nADikAs of paurNami on the second
day, so gAyatrI japa has be the day after, i.e.,
August 16. So, gAyatrI japa should be on August 16 
in Singapore.

One may now ask why it is that in India, both upAkarma
and gAyatrI japa are to be observed on the same day,
i.e., August 15.

Let's take a look at the numbers for Madras this year:

Madras:
   Monday, August 14:
      Sunrise: 5:44 AM
      caturdASI until 8:30 AM

   Tuesday, August 15:
      Sunrise: 5:45 AM
      paurNamI until 10:38 AM

   Wednesday, August 16:
      Sunrise: 5:45 AM
      prathamA until 12:26 PM

Here, we see that paurNamI spans two days, August 14 and
August 15.  Let's apply the above rules.  On August 15,
paurNamI lasts from 5:45 to 10:38, i.e., 4 hrs 53 minutes.
Since this is greater than 12 nADikAs, but less than 15
nADikAs, both upAkarma and gAyatri japa have to be observed
on August 15.

I hope this clears up the issue. For observances such as
this, we cannot simply look at panchAngams calculated for
Indian time. We have to do the appropriate calculations
for our geographical area.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani