Saturday, 8 September 2007

Vedic classes for accurate fest dates


September 2007
By SYED AKBAR
Hyderabad, Sept. 8: A Hyderabad-based Vedic research institute has decided to put an end to disputes over dates of festivals by organising panchangam (almanac) classes for people.
Priests and pandits sometimes give different dates for major festivals, creating a dilemma. The Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas says that its classes on the panchangam will help people decide on their own the exact date of a festival.
To begin with, classes will be held in Hyderabad for three days from September 30 and will later be extended in phases to different parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Till now, panchangams have remained in the domain of Vedic pandits and astrologers. This is the first time that it is reaching the common people.
Both men and women above the age of 20 can attend the panchanga classes. "Brush up your knowledge of the ancient panchangam and clear the confusion in your mind," says institute founder and chairman Kuppa Venkata Krishna Murthy, adding, "DonĂ¢€™t leave the decisions to pandits, who often go by their egos."
For instance, a controversy over the Ugadi festival had forced the Andhra Pradesh government to change the holiday twice. People celebrated the Telugu New Year on two different days. There was confusion, too, over the date of Holi.
Senior pandit Malladi Chandrasekhara Sastry, the regular siddhanti at the official Ugadi almanac reciting function, criticised the government and said it was celebrating Ugadi on an inauspicious day. "The trouble occurs because the ancient texts are in Sanskrit," says Mr Krishna Murthy. "We will translate them into simple Telugu and English."
Festivals, both Hindu and Muslim, based on the lunar calendar are always the subject of dispute.
For Muslims the new month begins with the sighting of the crescent moon and for Hindus the new month starts the day after Amavasya. The Muslim day begins with sunset but the Hindu day is based on tithi, nakshatra and varam. Since these vary with changes in the phases of the moon (waning and waxing), disputes arise.
"There were no such problems in ancient India as people knew the panchangam by heart," says Mr Krishna Murthy. "They also observed the movements of celestial bodies."
Eminent scholars and astronomers, including Madhura Krishna Murthy Sastry of Rajahmundry, Prof. S. Balachandra Rao of Bangalore, Prof. K. Ramasubramanian of IIT Mumbai, and Prof. Sri Pada Bhat of Tirupati will take classes.

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