Article: Jain calendar

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Names of the weekdays

This manuscript painting shows the nine planets or celestial elements – navagraha. The sun – sūrya – is in the middle and around him revolve the planets. The panel on the left shows the moon in his chariot. Below him are Ketu and Rāhu, who cause eclipses.

The nine celestial elements
Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Civil days are grouped into sets of seven, which each forms a week. The names of the days follow the pattern of a name of a planet plus the word 'day' – vāra.

These names appear in the dating of manuscripts, inscriptions and so on and are still in common use today. Note that in the written tradition there is a great variety of possible names, because there are several words used for 'moon', 'Mars', 'Jupiter' and so on.

Days of the week in English and Sanskrit, with associated planets

English

Sanskrit

Eponymous planet

Sunday

Ravi-vāra, Āditya-vāra

Sun

Monday

Soma-vāra

Moon

Tuesday

Mangala-vāra

Mars

Wednesday

Budha-vāra

Mercury

Thursday

Guru-vāra, Bṛhaspati-vāra

Jupiter

Friday

Śukra-vāra, Bhṛgu-vāra

Venus

Saturday

Śani-vāra

Saturn

Western and Indian dates

The complexity and variety of dating systems that have been used in Indian societies mean that several items have to be taken into account when calculating the exact Western equivalent of Indian dates. When looking at dates given in Indian-language writings, the era has to be identified, the exact lunar calendar confirmed and the day calculated.

Complications in calculations partly explain occasional Jain disputes over dates of festivals. Disagreements regarding the important festival of Paryuṣaṇ, for example, were quite intense in the 20th century (see Cort 1999 for more about disputes between the Śvetāmbara monastic orders in 1986).

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