Indian almanac is called a Panchang. It describes the positions
of planets as well as stellar constellations. It outlines
the calendar while giving information about tithis, muhurts
and other general predictions about the events of the forthcoming
MAN HAS ALWAYS feared the unknown and his ignorance
of what the future will bring; what turn his life will take or what consequences
will flow from his actions.
Thus, inspite of remarkable advances in technology, science and communications,
man's belief in superstitions, astrological predictions and calculations
still remains unshaken. When planning any life-changing event such as
a marriage or while buying valuables or property; before starting a new
business venture, or even meeting people for any of these objectives,
most Indians look for an auspicious time or a muhurt.
Traditionally, muhurt is an auspicious timespan of 48 minutes and can
occur at any time during the day. Every year, various muhurts are identified
by astrologers and recorded in an almanac called Panchang, which is published
on the new year's day. In olden days, the ceremonial reading out of the
nature of the coming year to an audience on new year's day, was a popular
Orthodox Indians look for muhurts for every activity including journeys,
signing documents or even initiating a discussion on a new project. Other
people avoid bad or inauspicious days in the calendar. Yet others undertake
events and projects on the well-established traditional muhurts which
are considered universally auspicious.
Such muhurts occur on four days of the year:
Gudi Padva or the first day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra;
Akshay Tritiya or the third day of the bright half of Vaishakh; Dussera,
the 10th day of the bright half of Ashwin, and New Year, the
first day in the bright half of Kartik after Diwali. All these are connected
with the harvesting of crops or traditional legends and stories of the
victory of good over evil.
dust raised by the hooves of cows returning home after a day
of grazing evokes tender poetic images in the minds of Indians
who consider cattle as wealth. This time, when the evening
shadows begin to lengthen and women get ready to milk the
cows, is considered most auspicious.
In an agricultural and pastoral society where
life revolves around harvests and the
daily care of cattle, many muhurts are connected with these phenomena
too. The golden rays of the setting sun bring a muhurt which is called
Godhuli, meaning the cloud of dust raised by cattle returning home at
eventide. Muhurts are also associated in the Indian psyche with beautiful
moments. Brahma Muhurt or Ushakal is the time when the first hint of dawn
lights up the far horizon. Considered by all people to be auspicious,
energising and very beautiful, this is a time to experience the peace
of nature's silence merging with the silence within oneself.
Indian families cast the horoscopes of each newborn, based on the time
and place of birth, planetary conjunctions and stellar positions. These
horoscopes are then consulted at all sacraments and matched when marriages
are arranged. Though the constant use of astrology has decreased considerably
with westernisation and industrialisation, even the most progressive Indians
believe in and respect the power of astrology in understanding life's
processes and the influence of stars and planets on human life.