Definitions

Bengali_calendar

Bengali calendar

The Bengali calendar (বঙ্গাব্দ Bônggabdo or বাংলা সন Bangla Shôn) or Bangla calendar is a traditional solar calendar used in Bangladesh and India's eastern states of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. The year begins on Pôhela Boishakh, which falls on 14 April in Bangladesh and 15 April in India. In Assam, this corresponds to Bhaskar Era, named after the Kamarupa king, Bhaskara Varman.

The current Bengali year is 1415. The Bengali year is always 593 less than the year in the Gregorian calendar of the Christian Era or Anno Domini era or Common Era or Current Era for the period after Pôhela Boishakh. However, the Bengali calendar is 594 less than the Gregorian calendar if it is before Pôhela Boishakh.

History

Before the introduction of the Bengali calendar in medieval times, agricultural and land taxes were collected according to the Islamic Hijri calendar. However, as the Hijri Calendar is a lunar calendar, the agricultural year did not always coincide with the fiscal year. Therefore, farmers were hard-pressed to pay taxes out of season. In order to streamline tax collection, the Mughal Emperor Akbar, who ruled from 1556 AD until 1605 AD, ordered a reform of the calendar. Accordingly, Amir Fatehullah Shirazi, a renowned scholar of the time and the royal astronomer, formulated a new calendar based on the lunar Hijri and solar Hindu calendars. The resulting Bangla calendar was introduced following the harvesting season when the peasantry would be in a relatively sound financial position. In keeping with the harvesting season, this new calendar initially came to be known as the Harvest Calendar, or ফসলী সন Fôsholi Shôn.

The new Fôsholi Shôn was introduced on 10/11 March 1584, but was dated from Akbar's accession to the throne in 1556. The new year subsequently became known as বঙ্গাব্দ Bônggabdo or বাংলা সন Bangla Shôn ("Bengali year").

In a different interpretation, King Shashanka of Ancient Bengal, who ruled approximately between 600 AD and 625 AD, is credited with starting the Bengali era. Shashankya was the sovereign king of Bengal at the start of seventh century. Much of today’s Indian states of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa was under his kingdom. The prevailing reason is that the year cannot start as 963 B.S. (Bangla Shôn) in synchrony with 963 Hijra. The Bengali Era must have begun before that and Akbar took over form this point on. According to this the starting point of Bengali Era was AD 593/594. By the time of reign of Akbar in AD 1556 the Bengali Era 963 B.S. had been in synchrony with then used 963 Hijra era. Because of the practical advantages of using a solar year, Akbar started using the Bengali era as the official calendar for collecting taxes. Extrapolating further back to the starting point of Bengali era it could be stated that it started on Monday, 12 April 594 in Julian Calendar and Monday, 14 April 594 in proleptic Gregorian calendar.

During the reign of the Mughals, the Bengali Calendar was officially implemented throughout the empire. Apart from Bengal, however, the calendar was abandoned with the end of Mughal rule.

Organization

বঙ্গাব্দ Bônggabdo
Bengali Calendar
মাস Mash
Month
কাল/ঋতু Kal/Ritu
Season
বৈশাখ Boishakh
April-May
গ্রীষ্ম Grishsho
Summer
জৈষ্ঠ্য Joishţho
May-June
আষাঢ় Ashaŗh
June-July
বর্ষা Bôrsha
Rainy (Monsoon)
শ্রাবণ Srabon
July-August
ভাদ্র Bhadro
August-September
শরৎ Shôrot
Autumn
আশ্বিন Ashshin
September-October
কার্তিক Kartik
October-November
হেমন্ত Hemonto
Dry
অগ্রহায়ন Ôgrohaeon
November-December
পৌষ Poush
December-January
শীত Šit
Winter
মাঘ Magh
January-February
ফাল্গুন Falgun
February-March
বসন্ত Bôshonto
Spring
চৈত্র Choitro
March-April

Seasons

The Bengali calendar consists of 6 seasons, with two months comprising each season. Beginning from Pohela Boisakh, they are Grishsho (গ্রীষ্ম) or Summer; Bôrsha (বর্ষা) or Rainy/Monsoon season; Shôrot (শরৎ) or Autumn; Hemonto (হেমন্ত) or the Dry season; Šit (শীত) or Winter; and Bôshonto (বসন্ত) or Spring.

Months

The names of the twelve months of the Bengali calendar are based on the names of the নক্ষত্র nokkhotro (lunar mansions): locations of the moon with respect to particular stars during the lunar cycle. It is presumed that these names were derived from the Shakabda, another calendar of this region which was introduced in the Shaka Dynasty. The names of the months are:

*বৈশাখ Boishakh after the star, বিশাখা Bishakha (Librae)
*জ্যৈষ্ঠ Joishţho after the star, জ্যেষ্ঠ Jeshţho (Scorpius)
*আষাঢ় Ashaŗh after the star, অষাঢ়া Ôshaŗha (Sagittarii)
*শ্রাবণ Srabon after the star, শ্রাবণ Srabon (Aquilae)
*ভাদ্র Bhadro after the star, ভাদ্রপদা Bhadropôda (Pegasus and Andromeda)
*আশ্বিন Ashshin after the star, অশ্বিনী Ôshshini (Arietis)
*কার্তিক Kartik after the star, কৃত্তিকা Krittika (Pleiades)
*অগ্রহায়ন Ôgrohaeon after the star, অগ্রাইহন Agraihon
*পৌষ Poush after the star, পুশ্য Pushsho (Cancer)
*মাঘ Magh after the star মঘা Môgha (Regulus)
*ফাল্গুন Falgun after the star, ফাল্গুনী Falguni (Leonis and Denebola), and
*চৈত্র Choitro after the star, চিত্রা Chitra (Spica)

The month names in the initial Bengali calendar were different from those used in the modern version. Originally, the months were known under the names of the Persian calendar as Farwadin, Ardi, Vihisu, Khordad, Teer, Amardad, Shahriar, Aban, Azur', Dai, Baham and Iskander Miz.

Days

The Bengali Calendar incorporates the seven-day week as used by many other calendars. Also like other calendars, the names of the days of the week in the Bengali Calendar are based on celestial objects, or নবগ্রহ nôbogroho.

*Monday: সোমবার Shombar after সোম Shom (a Lunar deity)
*Tuesday: মঙ্গলবার Monggolbar after মঙ্গল Monggol (planet Mars)
*Wednesday: বুধবার Budhbar after বুধ Budh (planet Mercury)
*Thursday: বৃহস্পতিবার Brihoshpotibar after বৃহস্পতি Brihoshpoti (planet Jupiter)
*Friday: শুক্রবার Shukrobar after শুক্র Shukro (planet Venus)
*Saturday: শনিবার Shonibar after শনি Shoni (planet Saturn)
*Sunday: রবিবার Robibar after রবি Robi (a Solar deity)

In the Bengali calendar, the day begins and ends at sunrise , unlike in the Gregorian calendar, where the day starts at midnight.

Revised Bengali Calendar

The Bengali Calendar was modified by a committee headed by the celebrated scholar Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah under the auspices of the Bangla Academy of the then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, on 17 February1966. The Committee made some recommendations regarding the different problems facing rural Bengali cultural traditions due to changes of months and seasons.

The length of a year in the Bengali calendar, as in the Gregorian calendar, is counted as 365 days. However, the actual time taken by the earth in its revolution around the sun is 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 47 seconds. To make up this discrepancy, the Gregorian calendar adds an extra day, to make a leap year, to the month of February every fourth year (except in century years which are not divisible by 400). The Bengali calendar, which was based on astronomical calculations, did not make this extra leap year adjustment. Bengali months, too, were of different lengths. To counter this discrepancy, and to make the Bengali calendar more precise, the following recommendations of the Bangla Academy are followed:

* The first five months of the year from Boishakh to Bhadro will consist of 31 days each.
* The remaining seven months of the year from Ashshin to Choitro will consist of 30 days each.
* In the Leap year of Gregorian calendar, an additional day will be added in the month of Falgun, which is just 14 days after 29th February. (Modified witout material change).

The revised calendar is officially adopted in Bangladesh in 1987. However, it is not followed in the neighbouring state of West Bengal, India, where the old calendar continues to be followed.

Revised and non-revised versions

The first of Boishakh, Pôhela Boishakh, is the Bengali New Year's Day. In Bangladesh, it is celebrated on April 14 every year according to the reformed calendar prepared by the Bangla Academy. However, since the people of the West Bengal follow the non-reformed calendar, which is not fixed with respect to the Western calendar, Indian Bengalis celebrate New Year's Day on April 15.

In West Bengal, India, the Bengalis follow a sidereal solar calendar unlike the tropical solar calendars, such as the reformed Bengali and Gregorian Calendars. The mathematical difference between the sidereal and the tropical calendars amounts to the difference of starting the new year in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. Because of this the length of the months are also not fixed in the Bengali sidereal calendar, but rather are based on the true movement of the sun.

Leap year

According to the new calendar system, Falgun (which begins mid-February) has 31 days every four years. To keep pace with the Gregorian calendar, the Bengali leap years are those whose corresponding Gregorian calendar year is counted as a leap year. For example, Falgun 1410 was considered a Bengali leap month, as it fell during the Gregorian leap month of February 2004.

Although the sidereal solar calendar is being followed in West Bengal, India, the number of days in the months are determined by the true motion of the Sun through zodiac. In this calendar, seven is subtracted from the year number the result is divided by 39. If after the division the remainder becomes zero or could be divided by 4, the year is then designated as a leap year and contains 366 days with the last month Choitro taking 31 days. There are 10 leap years in every 37 years, although an extraordinary revision may be required over a long time.

Usage

The usage and popularity of the Bengali calendar in eastern South Asia is partly due to its adaptation to the unique seasonal patterns of the region. Eastern South Asia has a climate that is best divided into six seasons, including the monsoon or rainy season and the dry season in addition to spring, summer, fall, and winter.

In everyday use, the Bengali Calendar has been largely replaced by the Gregorian Calendar in Bengali-speaking regions, although it is still essential for marking holidays specific to Bengali culture (e.g. Pôhela Boishakh, Durga Puja, etc.), and for marking the seasons of the year, and is thus recognized by the Bangladeshi government for the observation of public holidays. Almost every Bengali- and English-language newspaper in Bangladesh and West Bengal prints the day's date according to the Bengali Calendar alongside the corresponding date of the Gregorian Calendar. Many newspapers in Bangladesh also add a third date, following the Islamic Hijri Calendar. Thus, it is quite common in Bangladesh to find the date written three times (e.g. "25 Falgun 1412, 17 Muharram 1427, 27 February 2006") under the newspaper title.

Related calendars

The Bengali calendar is related to the Hindu solar calendar, which is itself based on the Surya Siddhanta. The Hindu solar calendar also starts in mid-April, and the first day of the calendar is celebrated as the traditional New Year in Assam, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Orissa, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Tripura in addition to Bengal, Indian state of West Bengal and Bangladesh. This is also known as Mesha Sankranti.

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