Sorry, your Panchānga is incorrect*!

[*Apologies for a click-bait headline, but couldn’t find a better way to emphatically get my point across. I might either be arrogantly condescending, or just trying to jolt you—reading this post should convince you it is the latter.
Also, I presume that you know the fundamental aspects of Panchāngas, if you are reading this; For the interested but uninitiated, please check out some of the YouTube videos at the end of this article.]

What is a Panchānga?

Surely you know this. It’s more than a calendar, or even an almanac, and presents a detailed reckoning of various astronomical events/festivals/observances. Oversimplifying, it’s just a way to sync the celebration of various festivals to the movements of the Sun and the stars, and of course, the literal “pancha” angas1 themselves denote/capture a somewhat specific point in the continuum of time.


Recent civilisations/religions have developed their own calendaring; time-keeping syncing seasons and equinoxes with dates has been the driving force. The Julian calendar (Julius Caesar, 46 BCE), lunar Hijri calendar (622 CE), Gregorian calendar (Pope Gregory XIII, Feb 1582). Most people do not know the travails of syncing the Julian/Gregorian calendars to the equinox by repeatedly fixing leap year reckoning (culminating in the deletion of Oct 5–14, 1582, or Sep 3–13, 1752 when Britain finally decided to switch to the Gregorian calendar!). Thus, while the Gregorian calendar has emerged as a de facto international standard, it has enough flaws and historical idiosyncrasies.

The Sanātana Dharma/Hindu calendar is lunisolar and has a much longer vision of time, reckoning it from the start of the present Brahma (155,521,972,949,121 years and 11 days, as of today). But that is for a different time, and I point the interested reader to this nice page. There are different schools of reckoning a year, based on solar (Sauramāna), lunar (Chāndramāna), Nakshatra-based (Nakṣatramāna), etc. Tamil Nadu follows the solar Sauramāna system, while Andhra follows the lunar Chāndramāna system.

The Drik vs. Vākya debate

Shri Matham Panchānga original Shrimukham of 1877-12-13/Kali 4987-Vrishchika-30

While this is not the central thread of this article, a major point of contention is the school of computation. While Vākya follows Vararuchi’s “vākyas” capturing the motion of celestial bodies, Driggaṇita is observational1. Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitham follows Drik (since 1877-12-13, i.e. कलि ४९७८ वृश्चिकः ३०) — 65th Shankaracharya Sri Sri Sudarshana Mahadevendra Saraswati Swamigal. While Vararuchi’s vākyas and treatises like Surya Siddhanta are a testimony to the mathematical and astronomical prowess of ancient India, the lack of revision of these vākyas have rendered the Vākya panchānga inaccurate in the present day.

Most people seem to follow the panchānga their family has been following, somewhat dogmatically. While I genuinely appreciate their staunch faith, I see most people do so more out of ignorance (of both the source of differences between the computations, and also the 1877 resolution by Sri Sri Periyava). I am yet to meet a scholar who adheres to Vākyam for its superior accuracy.

Yet, my major peeve in this article is NOT about Drik vs. Vākya, but rather, the prime importance of Panchānga location, and the “sensitivity” of observances, festivals and practically every aspect of a Panchānga to location.

Why do I argue that your Panchānga is wrong?

Traditionally, it used to be that every locality would have the resident expert astronomer/astrologer (panchānga-kartā) who would compute the location-specific panchānga. This is now long lost, and we have people (my knowledge is somewhat limited to South Indians from Tamil Nadu/Andhra) in every nook and corner of the country (why, world!) using Srirangam Vākya Panchānga, or Kanchi Matha Panchānga, which have been carefully and accurately calculated for Srirangam and Kanchipuram, respectively! Unless you live in Kanchipuram, or Chennai (that’s basically not far enough for festival observances to change), your Panchānga is wrong you are using the wrong Panchānga.

The fact that you intend to check a (your family’s traditional) Panchānga for performing a sankalpa, muhūrta, an auspicious day, a shrāddha tithi, or a festival observance implies that you are interested in following the tradition / dharma sincerely. Yet, you must understand how many festivals can change in a year, within a few longitudes (even within Bhāratam, not just outside of it!), as I discuss below.

What can go wrong?

Sunrise, sunrise, sunrise …

Most panchāngas use udayādi-ghaṭikā (ghaṭikās elapsed since sunrise). Sunrise changes from location to location, and quite drastically across latitudes and longitudes, and this is THE primary source of the error I am trying to belabour about. While all astronomical/astrological calculations employ the ghatikā/palam/vipalam sexagesimal system, we don’t have clocks or apps that make it accessible enough (yet). Note that all the angas are the same at every location on the planet (save for vāra, which begins and ends with sunrise) at a given point in time. Therefore, if Dwādashi starts at 1-11 (1 ghaṭikā, 11 palam, i.e. ~28 minutes) on a day when the sunrise is at 6:11 AM in the location, it ends at 6:39 AM IST in Chennai (and 01:09 GMT in the UK), which would be before the sunrise on that day at Mumbai (6:49 AM), and ultimately changes the observance of Ekādashi vratam on the day3!

Typically, Panchāngas list sunrise/sunset timings once in 10 days or so, and for the location for which the panchānga was computed! You really need to translate the udayādi ghaṭikās to IST for the location for which the panchānga was originally computed, and then if you live outside India, even adjust for the time zone! Another side note is that the “newspaper” sunrise timings are typically off the shāstric sunrise/sunset timings by a few minutes (middle of the disc at horizon describes the shāstric sunrise/sunset, and refraction in the atmosphere is ignored).

Shrāddha tithi!

Even from Kanchipuram to Coimbatore, a few variations occur!

This might come as a rude shock to many, but the reality is that even shrāddha tithi can change, especially from Kanchipuram to Mumbai. For instance on 5122 Plava-Vrishabha-27 (June 10, 2021), the shrāddha tithi for Chennai is Amavasya, but for Mumbai, it actually occurs the previous day! This is because the tithi is decided based on its prevalence during aparāhṅa, the 4th part of the five-fold division of a day (the period from sunrise to sunset), which obviously is affected severely by both latitude and longitude. Forget Mumbai, even Coimbatore, that’s less than 500 km from Kanchipuram has a different shrāddha tithi, twice a year:

As an extreme example, it is possible that the (Sauramāna shrāddha) tithi advances by nearly a month even, when it is close to a sankrānti day. For instance, Kaṭaka Shukla Navami shrāddha is on 16th August 2021 in most places, but on 17th July 2021 in Mumbai!4

Relative ghaṭikās determine various timings, e. g. birthdays/wedding days/Rahukāla

Well, this is not so much as location issue (it is), but more of a fundamental understanding of the daily divisions of time. 6 AM IST is no logical reference point for any panchānga. Yet, a number of people erroneously calculate that the Sangava kāla starts at 8:24 AM (true, only if sunrise and sunset are at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM respectively; this never happens in most places, even on the equinoxes, except if your time zone is “perfect”), or that Rāhukāla is from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM on Mondays! One must always remember that 6:00 AM IST is contingent on the Indian time zone. If (God forbid) India chooses to implement daylight saving at some point in time, does it make sense to shift the Rāhukāla by one hour, over just a span of one week? Rāhukāla on Mondays is the second eighth part of the day (daylight hours = interval from sunrise to sunset), and not 7.30-9.00 AM!

Similarly, if a Nakshatra is not present for at least 6 ghaṭikās on a day, the birthday/wedding day falling on that Nakshatra is to be celebrated on the previous day! 6 ghaṭikās is further not 144 minutes, but 1/5th of the time between sunrise and sunset on that day, in that place! Again, many differences will be seen between Mumbai and Kanchipuram, for example.

Other very important timings like dinānta, important for reckoning the start/end of āshaucham etc., are again based on relative ghaṭikās only, and therefore completely contingent on sunrise/sunset, i.e. location!

Why must festivals in the West be celebrated a day early, even though they are behind IST?

This is by the same extension of the Mumbai logic above. Sunrise and sunset times are hours behind India, in the West. Therefore, if a tithi must be present at sunrise on a day for a festival to be reckoned, the tithi may have completed well before sunrise in a Western country, and it might be present at sunrise only on the previous day. Thus, even though the tithi ends at the same time all over the planet, its intersection with sunrise varies, and consequently, festival observances can fall a day earlier in the west compared to the east. Extrapolating the same argument to Australia, the day of observance of a festival could be a day later than what it is, in India.

What is the solution?

A daily panchānga with a detailed list of festival observances

Try to use a location-specific panchānga. If you follow the Drik panchānga (why not?), there are apps and websites that can come to your rescue. I can also help—see, I am not just an armchair critic, but would really like to help people surmount this problem. The jyotisha Github repository has codes that will let you generate a panchānga for your own location, replete with various festival observances and shrāddha tithis, something that looks like the image you see below on the right. Alternatively, fill out this form and I am happy to generate a PDF and send it across, when I find the time!

If you insist on following Vākya, try and re-calibrate it to your location (yes, a bit of effort!). Bharath Ganita Panchangam is an interesting Drik panchānga that (curiously) gets its name from using IST for showing ending times of the various angas. This can be remarkably helpful for at least performing sankalpa etc. in any part of India. Yet, it does not list when festivals might change (I believe that there are some lovely panchāngas from Maharashtra that draw a line in a map and say that West of this line, a Sankatahara chaturthi observance happens on a different day!).

Possible Practical solution?: Panchānga makers must list key dates with changes in festivals (e.g. Ekādashi, Shrāddha tithi) as an Appendix5, and note the day with a * in the main page to alert users.


  • Use a location-specific panchānga to reckon festivals/birthdays/shrāddha tithis! Whether you use Drik/Vakya panchānga, figure out a way to re-calibrate it to your location!
  • If you are in Mumbai, really watch out! Ekādashis and shrāddha tithis change at least a few days in the year!
  • Relative times are important for nearly all observances, e.g. dinānta
  • Rāhukāla etc. do not start at 7:30 AM or end at 9:00 AM; they are dependent on both sunrise and sunset timings!


  • Brahmashri Shriramana Sharma (Nerur Shankara Matham) for a lot of valuable comments/pointers/Shāstra vākyas, and for extending me an invitation to attend the Panchānga Sadas organised by Sri Maṭham!
  • Brahmashri Bharaneedhara Shastrigal (Kanchi Matham, Asthika Dharmam) for a lot of valuable discussions, including the only practical solution listed above
  • Shri Saketha Nath J (Github:adyatithi), for sharing a truckload of festival observance days/rules
  • Shri Vishvas Vasuki (Github:jyotisha), for doing a terrific clean-up of the clunky codes I wrote more than a decade ago, in a pre-app era, when I needed a location-specific panchānga for Zurich!
  • Shri Ramanathan V (IIT Varanasi) for catching typos, and useful suggestions.



1The five angas of the Panchanga include Tithi, Vara, Nakshatra, Yoga and Karana.
तिथेश्च श्रियमाप्नोति वारादायुष्यवर्धनम्।
नक्षत्राद्धरते पापं योगाद्रोगनिवारणम्॥
करणात् कार्यसिद्धिः स्यात् पञ्चाङ्गफलमुत्तमम्।
एतेषां श्रवणान्नित्यं गङ्गास्नानफलं भवेत्॥
Knowing the Tithi, one obtains ‘riches’, [knowing the] Vāra (day), one’s lifespan increases. [Knowing the] Nakshatra destroys papa, [knowing the] Yoga relieves from ailments, [knowing the karana] one achieves success in his/her endeavours—such is the lofty fruit of listening to the Panchānga (every day). By listening to all of these every day, one accrues the merit of bathing in the Ganga!

2Drik computations have been rendered easy through ephemerides; an ephemeris is a tabulation of calculated positions of a celestial object at regular intervals—has enabled the democratisation of Panchānga calculations!

3This exact example is of November 15, 2021, which is a Sarva Ekādashi in Chennai/Kanchipuram and only a Vaishnava Ekādashi in Mumbai. Smārta Ekādashi in Mumbai (or UK) occurs on November 14, 2021!

4This extraordinary difference is because Simha māsa starts at 00:49 IST on 17th August 2021, which is past ardharātra (mid part of the night) in most places in the East of the country, but during the very early part of ardharātra in Mumbai, rendering the last day of Kataka māsa unsuitable for performing the shrāddha!

5Here’s a possible Appendix of shrāddha tithi variations:

Variations in shrāddha tithi for Kanchi/Delhi/Mumbai for 5122 Plava (2021-22)

p.s. I have tried to take a balanced approach with respect to IAST diacritics, sacrificing correctness for readability. In my experience, the ā is perhaps the most important, and I have tried to capture it correctly AFAIK. Characters like ś ṣ ñ ṛ are somewhat more confounding to new readers, and I have eschewed them.

Typesetting Documents in संस्कृतं and other Bharatiya lipis

My first attempt at a very brief video tutorial on typesetting संस्कृतम् using XeLaTeX, leveraging a number of freely available tools. Thanks to the wonderful Sanskrit Club @ IIT Roorkee for the inspiration!

In this video, I demonstrate a number of freely available tools to typeset documents in संस्कृतं and other Bharatiya lipis.

Tools used:

  1. XeLaTeX (via
  2. Mudgala IME (…​)
  3. SanskritCR ( – for performing OCR
  4. Aksharamukha (…​) – to convert between lipis
  5. StotraSamhita (​) – a repository of many shlokas in multiple lipis

You can see a number of typeset PDF documents in​ or

Introducing Sethubandhanam

Obviously, I haven’t been blogging, for a real while. My blogger hat is lost amongst the dozen other hats I’m wearing currently. Not complaining—I truly love my job(s 😜).

My second last post (nearly 8 years ago) is now a curious serendipitous coincidence. I had blogged at some length about finding good causes to donate, and the veracity of these, reliability, and so on. Turns out, my namesake and great friend from the good ol’ DAV days had thought as much, and came up with this beautiful initiative—Sethubandhanam. I can’t thank Karthik Narayanan enough for inviting me to be a part of this!

About Sethubandhanam

Sethu Bandhanam is a non-profit platform to connect well-minded donors to dharmakartas in need of funds. Bharata-desham is a land of great ancient treasure with Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) as its founding stone. All over the nation, various dharmic activities take place through the year—all of which require funds. The intent of this web-platform is to bring all well-minded donors on one platform to ensure that all many dharmic activities receive the funds they require to be realised. We appreciate the diversity of tastes (लोको भिन्नरुचिः loko bhinnaruchih), and everyone might have a cause they are passionate about—from education/veda pathashala to temple upkeep or supporting poor temple priests or aged cows. You can read more about our exact focus areas here.

Sethu Bandhanam, which means a joining bridge is exactly what this web-platform is. It serves as a conduit between well-minded recipients and donors. Sethubandhanam is a part of the Sethubandhanam Welfare Foundation – a non-profit registered with the central government—the most credible form of non-profits registered in India (Section-8 licensed).

We like to think of ourselves as the squirrel in RamaSetu, doing our mite to help a variety of causes, no matter how insignificant our contribution might be, and I hope you will join us in our efforts!

Jaya Jaya Shankara! Hara Hara Shankara!

वन्दे भारतमातरम्।

Thank you Google, for the fonts!

Despite being primarily an advertising company, which tries to monetise you in every way possible, Google has gotten into the good books of typophiles by making some really beautiful fonts available for free (do the fonts have any embedded advertising codes?). In a world disfigured by Comic Sans and Arial, fonts like Lato, Lora, Roboto etc. provide immeasurable relief to the eyes of typophiles! Lato will become an Arial at some point I guess, but not for a few more years. websites seem to support many of these fonts seamlessly: hence the visual upgrade for this blog too.

The Master of them all…

He [Knuth] was deeply disappointed when saw the typesetting from Addison-Wesley for the second edition of volume 2, because in 1973 Addison-Wesley had replaced its mechanical typesetting technology with computerized typesetting that did not reproduce the high quality of the original printings of volumes 1-3.

Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Consequently, in 1977 Knuth began developing a new typesetting system to enable high quality computerized typesetting, in particular for TAOCP. This system was announced in his 1978 American Mathematical Society Gibbs Lecture entitled “Mathematical Typography” and published in the Bulletin (New Series) of the American Mathematical Society, volume 1, 1979, pp. 337-372. Knuth had two goals for his system:
(1) achieving the finest quality printed documents
(2) creating a system that would be archival in the sense that it was independent of changes in printing technology to the maximum extent possible.

Knuth’s system, developed with help from Stanford students and colleagues, had three primary components: the TeX typesetting engine, the METAFONT font design system, and the Computer Modern set of type fonts [4].  Combined, these revolutionized digital typesetting. Knuth made his code publicly available, and it has been widely adapted by commercial typesetting systems.

Knuth put hooks in his TeX engine so that others could make additions, with the condition that any resulting system be give a different name. That produced a vibrant, worldwide community of users and developers for TeX and related systems like LaTeX, ConTeXt, LuaTeX. Knuth’s TeX was an early success story for the free and open-source software movement.

From: Turing Award Citation for DEK (1974)

Special thanks to Knuth for the Computer Modern typeface; every article written in TeX looks professional and beautiful, thanks to this font. Especially in the ages when Times New Roman was the default font in Microsoft Word!

For those tired of Computer Modern, Palatino is another beautiful font.

Thank you, Microsoft too!

Microsoft has also scaled heights in the last decade with their typesetting: undoubtedly, Segoe UI (and the mobile version) is beautiful. Calibri, Cambria, Constantia, Consolas are all nice in their own way — any day better than Arial and company — and are thankfully the default fonts in Office since the last 9 years!

My Favourite Google Fonts

Droid Sans | Droid Sans Mono | Droid Serif | Inconsolata | Lato | Noto Sans | Noto Serif | Open Sans | Open Sans Condensed | Roboto | Source Sans Pro

Cricket typography

Every World Cup and major ICC event comes with a nice upgrade of the interface for display of score panels, scorecards etc. I thought the fonts used in the recent World T20 were rather nice, but the current IPL fonts are an abomination (more so than IPL itself? :j)

The fonts appear to be a hideous Monospaced font, the stereotype of the 2030s science fiction fonts as conceived by 1990s designers! Not to mention, the ugly batsman on strike indicators that keep blinking (wow, sci-fi FTW!) To catch a glimpse of these fonts, head over to Match 2 – a slashed zero too!

Ah, IPL has indeed fixed the monospace font at least: see IPL Match 8 Video — but the blinking marker remains!

Some interesting links:


Give, and let live!

giveIt’s been a while since I blogged, but I thought it important to share information on some very interesting NGOs/charities I’ve come across [recently]. I understand the India has a huge number of NGOs (read a debate about the legitimacy of some of these NGOs a while back!), and it’s rather difficult to find good NGOs/charities on a regular basis. I do get badgered by enthusiastic management trainees from the popular NGOs once in a while, and I often turn them away since I like to donate to more obscure and upcoming charities rather than established ones (I also suspect they have more ‘overheads’, like paying the salaries for the MTs!).

I must emphasise that is very important for each one of us to give; we all have [one or more of] a roof over our head, good clothes to wear, and the luxury of a bike/car and smartphones, tablets and laptops. Let’s try to help others educate themselves, lead a healthy life and sustain themselves in changing and challenging circumstances. I think there’s an adage that 1/6th of one’s salary must be spent in ‘good deeds’; assuming that the taxes we pay are part of this, I am sure we can still part with a few thousands every year to help the needy. I also think that many of us are happy to donate, but aren’t aware of the best charities. All of us can’t become Bill and Melinda Gates (दाता लक्षेषु जायते), but I think a little help here and there can go make a big difference to at least a few people!

I think we all have causes we’d really like to support (mine are usually health, education, food, culture), so it’s good to share the word and let people know. I even toyed with the idea of a social portal for sharing, rating and ranking NGOs, but here goes my first effort. Here’s a list of NGOs which I have donated to in the past and I firmly believe to be sincere and doing good work, in their chosen sphere (I hope to have a dedicated post about each of them, and hope to update the links below):

  1. Deepam Trust (email; no webpage as far as I know for this Deepam trust)
  2. National Trust Niramaya: A Health Insurance Scheme for the welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (web)
  3. Uday Foundation for Congenital Defects and Rare Blood Groups (web)
  4. Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home (web)
  5. Madras Sanskrit College/V. Krishnaswami Iyer Sanskrit Educational Trust (web)
  6. Sevalaya (web)
  7. Samskrita Bharati (web)
  8. Teach for India (web)
  9. Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust (VRNT)*
  10. Vidya Vikasa Trust: College Education of the Visually Impaired (web)*
  11. Wikipedia!
  12. Khan Academy!*
  13. Blood! Check out

There are any number of sayings about the importance of giving, and here’s a large collection of Sanskrit sayings!

*updated 11-Feb-2016

Anne Frank  “No one has ever become poor by giving.”


Vishakha Hari mentioned in one of her discourses on पञ्चरत्न वैभवम् that this great kriti actually contains a 100 names of Lord Rama. One can only marvel at Tyagaraja’s genius and the grace bestowed upon him by Lord Rama!

Here is a link to the namavalis:

I must acknowledge and all the contributors there for help in discerning the different names in the Kriti, through the translations and word-splittings.

See also:

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

It’s been a while since I have blogged, but I just had to write about this new-found obsession of mine, with Jagadanandakaraka. I keep humming it all the time these days, despite my scanty knowledge of Carnatic music. I have always been a fan of Nata ragam, but Jagadanandakaraka is not just about music. It is about Sri Rama, Sri Tyagaraja and much more than even Srimati Vishakha Hariji had so beautifully put forth, in her discourse on the Pancharatna Kritis.

(You can find the notation for Jagadanandakaraka here.)

Over the last couple of days, I have been so fascinated by the commentary I heard, that I found it too difficult to resist blogging on it.

Some quick highlights from the discourse:

  1. Sadkavihridalaya: Story of Tulasidas, and how Lord Kasi Viswanatha instructed him to write in pradesha Hindi bhasha, rather thank Samskritam.
  2. Pada-vijita-mauni-sapa: Whole of Balakandam in one charanam
  3. Purahara-Sarojabhava-Keshavadirupa : Vishakha narrated a lovely story about a goldsmith from Pandarpur, who was a great Shiva bhakta, but would not even utter the name of Panduranga and how Panduranga so beautifully opened his eyes!
  4. One can recite the whole of Jagadanandakaraka as ashtottara namavaLi! (I am trying to get the right count; I am certain there are close to a 100 namas!)

Obviously, Maharshi Valmiki was not satiated just by writing Srimad Ramayanam, he had to ‘sing’ it again in various verses as Tyagaraja, for the benefit of one and all!

Jaya Janakiprananayaka!

Happy Birthday, Dr Doyle!



147 years ago, on this day, was born the creator of arguably the most famous detective of all time, fictional though, Sherlock Holmes! 


There are two famous lists of favourite stories: that of Conan Doyle himself, in 1927, and that of the Baker Street Journal in 1959.

Conan Doyle's list:

  1. "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
  2. "The Red-Headed League"
  3. "The Adventure of the Dancing Men"
  4. "The Adventure of the Final Problem"
  5. "A Scandal in Bohemia"
  6. "The Adventure of the Empty House"
  7. "The Five Orange Pips"
  8. "The Adventure of the Second Stain"
  9. "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot"
  10. "The Adventure of the Priory School"
  11. "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"
  12. "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire"

The Baker Street Journal's list:

  1. "The Adventure of the Speckled Band"
  2. "The Red-Headed League"
  3. "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"
  4. "The Adventure of Silver Blaze"
  5. "A Scandal in Bohemia"
  6. "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual"
  7. "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans"
  8. "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons"
  9. "The Adventure of the Dancing Men"
  10. "The Adventure of the Empty House"



Nano Smiley Face made from DNA!


“A nanotechnologist has created the world’s smallest and most plentiful smiley, a tiny face measuring a few billionths of a metre across assembled from strands of DNA. Dr Paul Rothemund at the California Institute of Technology can make 50 billion smileys, each a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, with his technique.”

Ref: Paul W. K. Rothemund (2006) “Folding DNA to create nanoscale shapes and patterns”, Nature 440:297-302 (16 March 2006) doi:10.1038/nature04586


read more | digg story