The Hindu Astrology uses 12 Zodiacal signs as the basis for drawing an astrological chart. These 12 signs seem to correspond to the 12 ‘stars’ in the English astrological predictions. As for instance, the Aries is equivalent to the one, called maesham / maedam in Tamil. Taurus is equivalent to rishabam in Tamil. While these twelve are called as stars in English, they are called raasi in Tamil; hence raasi is translated as ‘zodiac’ in English.
In a Hindu based calendar, a month is defined on the basis of the movement of either the moon or sun. This year, our Telugu sisters and brothers celebrate their New Year (Yugaadhi) on 8.4.2016 whereas our Hindu calendar indicates 14.4.2016 as the first day of the Tamil month of Chitthirai, which is the first month of our Tamil year. The Telugu speakers define their month from the first phase of the waning moon (the first thithi of the bright side of the moon) till the corresponding New moon. The Tamil speakers base their definition of a month on the basis of the movement of the sun. The day, when the sun enters a particular zodiacal sign, is considered to be the first day of that Tamil month. Hindu astrology is very technical in its calculation of the movements of the nine planets through these zodiacal signs, that it states the exact time when the sun enters a particular zodiacal sign. Accordingly, this year the sun enters the zodiacal sign, maesham, at 9.06 pm on Wednesday the 13th of April 2016, according to the ‘Ragunathaiyar Vaakkiya Panchaanggam’. Therefore, the actual time of the birth of our Tamil New Year, Thurmukhi, is 9.06 pm on Wednesday. Consequently, we enable ourselves to welcome our New Year at the exact time of its birth with God’s blessings, by having a special poojaa at the exact time of the birth of the New Year.
Since the Tamil calendar uses the position of the sun to keep track of its months, the Sun naturally has a special regard in respect to the Tamil New Year. Therefore, after praying to the Almighty to guide us throughout the ensuing New Year, we offer prayers to the sun along with the offering of sweet rice; the sun plays a significant role in regulating the climatic conditions, which should be conducive for the well-being of human beings and animals and plants. We offer sweet rice to the sun with the expectation that the ensuing year will be relatively ‘sweet’ to us. It is logical to offer sweet rice and prayers to the sun when it is up in the sky; such offerings at night will not be meaningful. Moreover, a day starts with the sunrise; or, at least a day should be ‘young enough’ to consider it to be the first day of a particular month. As for instance, in 2012 the Tamil New Year was born at 5.45 pm on Friday 13.4.2012, and it qualified to be the first day of the month of Chitthirai. It can be inferred that if the New Year is born before the sunset in a day, that day itself will be considered as the first day of Chitthirai; if the NewYear is born after the sunset in a day, the following day will be considered to be the first day of Chitthirai.
Therefore, this year, we have our special prayers at Sri Kandaswamy Temple, at 9.06 pm on Wednesday 13.4.2016, to make sure we receive the full blessings of God at the very instant when the New Year is born; but we consider 14.4.2016 as the first day of the month of Chitthirai, acknowledging the fact that it is only then the sun shows up itself for the New Year.
A Happy THURMUKHI New Year to all Hindu brothers and sisters! May the kind Lord guide all of us along His graceful path!