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Re: SriJayanthi

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 12:51:28 PDT

Rajeev writes:
> While it may be true that the smaartha tradition follows the Lunar
> calendar, it is also true that the entire SriVaishnava-Telugu
> speaking community also follows the Lunar calendar.  I came to know
> of Solar Calendar only after I met some of my tamil speaking 
> Sri Vaishnava friends.  However, is there any information available
> as to "why", we have two forms of calendars (Solar/Lunar) ? 

The Karnataka Sri Vaishnava community also generally follows
the lunar calendar for day-to-day activities, even though they 
are Tamil-speaking.  This is because of the general rule that 
one adopts local calendrical customs after several years of
continuous residence in that place.  Sri Rangapriya Swami 
has mentioned several times that after 12 years in a new 
place one should generally adopt the local calendar.

However, even though you are Telugu, I am sure the solar
calendar still plays a part in your family life.  For example,
I am sure you observe makara sankrAnti. This is a phenomenon
of the solar calendar.  Similarly, orthodox Vaidikas perform
pitR-tarpaNam on every sankramaNa, or at least on several
sankramaNas in the year, which in the solar calendar
marks the beginning of a new month.  The solar calendar is 
also a Vedic calendar, as has been mentioned by Sri Sadagopan
several years ago in a detailed article on this topic.

The "why" of this is that the Vedic calendar actually is
"luni-solar", not exclusively lunar or solar. What this means
is that people generally observe both lunar and solar cycles
(months and years), every so often adding an extra (adhika)
or "intercalary" month to the lunar calendar to make it 
coincide again with the solar calendar. This happens every
three years or so and needs to be done because lunar months
are shorter than solar months.  More emphasis is placed
on either the lunar or solar parts of the calendar depending
on local custom. Karnataka and Telugu people place more
emphasis on the lunar cycle, for example. Residents of 
Tamil Nadu place more emphasis on the solar cycle. However,
both are generally observed by all.  My paternal ancestors 
have been residents of the Mysore area for nearly a thousand
years, so Yugadi is a big festival for us. However, we
still observe the Tamil 'varsha-piRappu', though in not
as grand a manner.

> It is a general principle in Sri Sampradayam to observe
> festivals based on Nakshatram? 

The rule is that Alvar-acharya tirunakshatrams are generally
observed on the solar calendar plus nakshatram.  This is because
most of our Alvar-acharyas spent their lives in the Tamil
country where the solar calendar is and was in vogue.

Sri Jayanti, as I pointed out in my previous mail, is a more
complicated topic and varies depending on sampradAya and
family custom, but invariably involves rOhiNi nakshatra
for Sri Vaishnavas. Sri Rama Navami and Sri Narasimha Jayanti
are observed according to the tithi, with some observing these
in the solar months and others observing them in the lunar months.

> If the thithi and nakshatram
> are occuring on two different days, which one should one
> account for, in determining a date ? (This may well be applicable to
> one's own birthday !)

For your own birthday, I think the rule is that you should
follow your own family's custom. Generally, Sri Vaishnavas
always observe the nakshatra, but solar or lunar month
probably depends on family practice.

Mani

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