Why should we measure time? When we question ourselves the same we might not be able to find the answer. The root cause for measuring time is because our ancestors identified that time is cyclical in nature. Since our ancestors identified cyclic nature of time, they are able to decide when to sow and when to reap their harvest. Also, they have selflessly imbibed that information in the form of panchangam and provided us.
It is not an easy task to measure endless time. Before we dive in to understand the greatness of Indian time division let us try to understand the currently followed western style of time measuring system.
The root word of the calendar is the latin word calendi which mean account book. In order to collect back debts, they have used it as a tool. Post that, westerners have used it for civil discipline and for conducting social welfare activities. Over a period of time, they called it as Almanac also. In fact, a rough translation of Al-manakh could be environment index. This word belongs to Spanish Arabic languages.
The calendar which we use today is a hybrid of road and Gregory systems. During the period of Romulus, the ruler of Rome, a year is made up of 304 days. A year contains 10 months and the year starts from March. If two months period is not accounted for properly, harvest reaping time would be either before or after the expected time. On understanding this difference, after sometime year has been adjusted to 12 months and the number of days to 354. Here, we should identify that a moon based year will have 354 days. According to our Indian time, divisioning system moon will run into each of the 27 stars for approximately one day. According to this system, for 27 stars ~29.5 days X 12 months = 354.4 days.
In the 7th century B.C. Emperor Pampilus felt that even number is not good and got it changed to 355 days (How ridiculous it is to change just because it is not liked by a king without taking into consideration movements of earth and moon or any scientific reasons)
All over the world, New Year starts in the March month i.e. the spring season as the trees rejuvenate in that season which is also a birth. Hence, even though they have less number of days in a year their new year starts in the month of March or April.
In the autumn season (our current January month) cold breeze spreads everywhere. Our skin turns into pale with white patches due to extreme cold and wrinkles will be formed. A tree’s leaves and fruits will fall on the ground and get destroyed which is as good as a representation of death. Nevertheless, Westerners chose to celebrate autumn (January) as New Year instead of spring (March or April).
In the year 46 B.C., then Rome emperor Julius Cesare studied Egypt’s calendar on his tour to Egypt and with the help of astronomy scientist Sosigenes of Alexandria, he decided a year to have 365.25 days. February, which has 30 days (then last year of a month) was deprived of one day and added it to Pentilus, the fifth month from march (Penta=5-panchami). He ordered to start New Year from January with April, June, August, September and November having 30 days and February having 29 days. He replaced the name of Pentilus with his name as July and started the year with January. The difference of .25 days is accounted by having 30 days in February on a quadrennial basis. This is called leap year.
In 27 B.C., Augustus, the son of the nephew of Cesare, has become the emperor of Rome and replaced the month sexstilis (sexta=6-shashti) with his name as August and removed one day from February i.e. it contains 28 days and added it to August making it a month with 31 days. Leap year was changed to every 3 years and added that extra day to February.
In the later period, accuracy has increased and a year is made up of 365.242199 days. As a result, each year accumulates a difference of 11 minutes 14 seconds. pope Gregory VIII, the 13th pope formed a set of scientists and prepared a new calendar in CE 1582 changing the leap year back to once in every 4 years with the extra day added to February and named it as Gregorian calendar. As a result of this change, each year is accumulating extra .007801 days. In order to adjust this centenary years divisible by 100 are not considered as leap years whereas centenary years divisible by 400 are considered as leap years. In order to accommodate such a big change in the calendar well established by the then the day next to October 4, 1582 was announced as October 15, 1582. It means, 10 days will be missing from that year’s calendar. Hence loss of coherence between their festival dates and the context of their festivals is being mocked by their very scientists. If they do not have a proper time measurement system in CE 1582 there won’t be concurrence between the festivals and their dates. Deciding the New Year on the basis of king’s commands instead of seasons is very unfortunate.
Because of the fear towards the king and his force festival dates can be changes but the deep rooted habits cannot be changed. That is the reason why closing of the account books and opening new account books happen at the end of March. Even then, some people chose not be afraid of King and considered April 1st as New Year. In order to change their habit, April 1st is propagated as fool’s day. Over a period of time, people are brainwashed to believe January 1st as the start of New Year.
We have trumped our scientifically developed indigenous calendar and turned ourselves into users of such a haphazard unscientific calendar. On top of that, we are such a great civilians who argue that their time measurement system is great.