Javanese calendar

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The Javanese calendar is the calendar of the Javanese people. It is used concurrently with two other calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar. The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of the Republic of Indonesia and civil society, while the Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and Indonesian government for religious worship and deciding relevant Islamic holidays.

The Javanese calendar is used by the main ethnicities of Java island: Javanese, Madurese and Sundanese people  – primarily as a cultural icon, a cultural identifier and as an object and tradition of antiquity to be kept alive. The Javanese calendar is used for cultural and metaphysical purposes of these Javanese peoples [1]

The current system of Javanese calendar was inaugurated by Sultan Agung of Mataram in the Gregorian year 1633.[2] Prior to that, Javanese had used the Hindu calendar or Saka calendar which that starts in 78 CE and uses the solar cycle for calculating time.[3] Sultan Agung's calendar retained the Saka calendar year counting but differs by using the same lunar year measurement system as the Islamic calendar, rather than using the old solar year. Occasionally it is referred by its Latin name Anno Javanico or AJ (Javanese Year).[4]

Calendar cycles[edit]

The Javanese calendar contains multiple, overlapping but separate measurements of times, called cycles. These include:

  • the native five-day week, called Pasaran
  • the common Gregorian and Islamic seven-day week
  • the Solar months cycle, called Mangsa
  • the Lunar months cycle, called Wulan
  • the year-cycles, or Tahun
  • and octo-ennia (8 year) cycles, or Windu

Division of time[edit]

Days in Javanese calendar, like in the Islamic calendar, start at sunset.[2] Traditionally Javanese people didn't divide day and night into hours, but divided it into phases.[4] The division of a day and night are:[4]

Division of time
Start End Javanese name Meaning
6 am 8 am esuk morning
8 am 12 pm teng'angi midday
12 pm 1 pm bedug' time for bedug prayer
1 pm 3 pm lingsir kulon (sun) moving west
3 pm 6 pm asar time for asar prayer
6 pm 8 pm sore evening
8 pm 11 pm sirap sleepy time
11 pm 1 am tengah wengi midnight
1 am 3 am lingsir wengi late night
3 am 6 am bangun awakening

Cycles of Days[edit]

Five-day week (Pasaran)[edit]

The native Javanese system groups days into a five-day week called Pasaran, unlike many calendars that used seven-days week. The name, pasaran, is derived from the root word pasar ("market"). Historically, but also still today, Javanese villagers gather communally at local markets to meet socially, engage in commerce, and buy and sell farm produce, cooked foods, home industry crafted items and so on. John Crawfurd (1820) suggested that the length of the week/cycle is related to the number of fingers on the hand,[5] and that itinerant merchants would rotate their visits to different villages according to a five day "roster".

The days of the cycle have two names each, because the Javanese language has distinct vocabulary associated with two different registers of politeness: ngoko (informal) and krama (formal). The krama names for the days are much less common, and so are given in parentheses.

Signs of the Pasaran cycle
  • Legi (Manis)
  • Pahing (Pait)
  • Pon (Petak)
  • Wagé (Cemeng)
  • Kliwon (Asih)

The origin of the names is unclear, and their etymology remains obscure. Possibly, the names may be derived from indigenous gods, like the European and Asian names.[5] An ancient Javanese manuscript illustrates the week with five human figures (shown at right below the day names): a man seizing a suppliant by the hair, a woman holding a horn to receive an offering, a man pointing a drawn sword at another, a woman holding agricultural produce, and a man holding a spear leading a bull.[5]

Additionally, Javanese consider these days' names to have a mystical relation to colors and cardinal direction:

  • Legi : white and East
  • Pahing : red and South
  • Pon : yellow and West
  • Wage : black and North
  • Kliwon : blurred colors/focus and 'center'.

Markets no longer operate under this traditional Pasaran cycle, instead pragmatically remaining open every day of the Gregorian week. However many markets in Java still retain traditional names that indicated that once the markets only operated on certain Pasaran days, such as Pasar Legi, or Pasar Kliwon.[2]

Javanese astrological belief dictates that individual characteristics or future are attributable to the combination of the Pasaran day and the 'common' weekdays of the Islamic calendar of that person's birthday. Javanese people find great interest in their astrological interpretations in this combination, which is called the Wetonan cycle.

Seven-day week[edit]

The seven-day-long week cycle (dina pitu, "seven days") is derived from the Islamic calendar, adopted following the spread of Islam in Indonesian archipelago. The names of the days of the week in Javanese are derived from their Arabic counterparts, namely:

Days of Seven-day Week
Javanese Arabic English
Senin yaum al-ithnayn ( يوم الاثنين ) Monday
Selasa yaum ath-thalatha' ( يوم الثلاثاء ) Tuesday
Rebo yaum al-arba`a' ( يوم الأربعاء ) Wednesday
Kemis yaum al-khamis ( يوم الخميس ) Thursday
Jemuwah yaum al-jum`a ( يوم الجمعة ) Friday
Setu yaum as-sabt ( يوم السبت ) Saturday
Minggu/Ahad yaum al-ahad ( يوم الأحد ) Sunday

These two week systems occurred concurrently, thus a certain Friday may fall on a Kliwon day, and thus called Jumat Kliwon.[2] This combination form the wetonan cycle explained below.

Wetonan cycle[edit]

The Wetonan cycle superimposes the five-day Pasaran' cycle with the seven-day week cycle. Each Wetonan cycle lasts 35 (7x5) days. An example of wetonan cycle:

The "Wetonan" Cycle for 2nd week of May (Mei) 2008:
English Monday 5 Tuesday 6 Wednesday 7 Thursday 8 Friday 9 Saturday 10 Sunday 11
Javanese seven-day week Senin 5 Selasa 6 Rebo 7 Kemis 8 Jumat 9 Setu 10 Minggu/ Ahad 11
Javanese Pasaran week 28 Pon 29 Wage 1 Kliwon 2 Legi 3 Pahing 4 Pon 5 Wage

From the example above, the Weton for Tuesday May 6, 2008 would be read as Selasa Wage.

The Wetonan cycle is especially important for divinatory systems, and important celebrations, rites of passage, commemorations and so forth are held on days considered to be auspicious.

An especially prominent example widely still taught at primary schools is the Weton for the Proclamation of Independence of Indonesia on August 17, 1945, which was at Jumat (Friday) Legi. It was also coinciding with the Weton for the birth and death of Sultan Agung, considered one of the greatest kings of Java history,.[6] Therefore, Jumat Legi is considered an important night for pilgrimage.[7] There are also taboos that relate to the cycle; for example, the ritual dance bedhaya can only be performed on Kemis (Thursday) Kliwon.[8]

The coincidence of the Pasaran day with the common day on the day of birth is considered by Javanese to indicate the personal characteristics of that person, similar to the Western Zodiac and planetary positioning in Western astrology.[1]

Pawukon cycle[edit]

Main article: Pawukon

Pawukon is a 210-day cycle in Javanese calendar,[2] related to Hindu tradition. Though most associated with Bali, it is still used in Java for special purposes. The calendar consists of concurrent weeks, and has a set of ten weeks, which have a duration of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 days.

The first day of the year is considered the first day of all ten weeks. As 210 is not divisible by 4, 8, or 9, extra days must be added to the 4-, 8-, and 9-day weeks.

Dates numbering[edit]

For timekeeping, days are numbered within the lunar month (wulan) as is common in other calendar systems. The date indicates the change in the moon, and symbolizes the life of a human in the world. This process of revolving life is known as cakra manggilingan or heru cakra.

On the first day of the month, when the moon is small, it is compared to a newborn baby. The 14th day, called Purnama Sidhi (full moon), represents a married adult. The next day, called Purnama, occurs as the moon begins to wane. The 20th day, Panglong, symbolizes the point at which people begin to lose their memory. The 25th day, Sumurup, represents the point at which the adult requires care like when they were young. The 26th day, Manjing, represents the return of the human to his or her origin.[6]

Cycles of months[edit]


Signs of Solar months (mangsa) in Javanese Calendar (upper row) with sign of Hindu zodiacs (lower row).

The solar year is divided into twelve periods (mangsa) of unequal length. Its origin lies in agriculture practice in Java. The names of the first ten months are simply the ordinal numbers from 1 to 10 in Javanese language, although the names of the 11th and 12th months are unclear.[5] The cycle begins near the summer solstice, around the middle of the dry season in Java.

In the 19th century, the solar month system or pranata mangsa was much better known among Javanese than the civil or religious year.[5] The cycle is clearly of Javanese origin, since the specific application to their climate does not match other territories in the Indonesian archipelago, as well as the usage of Javanese names for the months.[5] Although the cycle matches the weather pattern well, it is still clearly somewhat arbitrary, as can be seen in the lengths of the months.[5]

In astrology, the pranata mangsa is used to predict personality traits in a similar manner to sun signs in Western astrology. It is not widely used anymore for divination, but some practitioners use it as well as the other cycles in their divination.[1]

The Solar months are :

Pranata mangsa [5][9]
Starting day Name Length of days Description
Jun 23 Mangsa Kaso 41 The dry season; leaves are falling from the trees; the ground is withered and arid, bereft of water "like a jewel that has come free of its setting."
Aug 3 Mangsa Karo 23 The dry season; parched earth lies in hard clumps; the mango and cotton trees begin to bloom.
Aug 26 Mangsa Katelu 24 The dry season; spice roots are harvested; the gadung tree begins to bear fruit.
Sep 19 Mangsa Kapat 25 Rain begins to fall, as "tears well up in the soul", marking the end of the dry season; birds are singing and busily constructing nests. The Labuh Season is at hand.
Oct 14 Mangsa Kalima 27 The rainy season, sometimes with fierce winds and flooding; mangoes are ripe; snakes are driven from their nests; "a fountain of gold falls across the earth".
Nov 11 Mangsa Kanem 43 The rainy season; lightning strikes and there are landslides; but it is also the season of many fruit.
Dec 23 Mangsa Kapitu 43 The rainy season is at its peak; birds are hard pressed to find food, and in many areas there is severe flooding.
Feb 4/5 Mangsa Kawolu 27 The rainy season; rice fields are growing and the cat is looking for his mate; grubs and larvae abound.
Mar 2 Mangsa Kasanga 25 The rainy season; rice fields are turning yellow; "happy news is spreading"; water is stored within the earth, the wind blows in one direction, and many fruits are ripe.
Mar 27 Mangsa Kasadasa 24 Rain yet falls, but is diminishing; the wind rustles and blows hard; the air is still chilly. The Mareng Season is at hand.
Apr 20 Mangsa Desta 23 The dry season has begun; farmers are harvesting the rice fields; birds tend their young with affection, as if they were "jewels of the heart".
May 13 Mangsa Saddha 41 The dry season; water begins to recede, "vanishing from its many places".


Each lunar year (tahun) is divided into a series of twelve wulan or lunar months. Each consisted of 29 or 30 days. This is adapted from the use of months in the Islamic calendar. The names of the month are given below (in krama, ngoko and Arabic):

Javanese lunar months
Krama (formal) Ngoko (informal) Arabic names Length of days
Warana Sura Muharram ( المحرّم ) 30
Wadana Sapar Safar ( صفر ) 29
Wijanga Mulud Rabi al-awwal ( ربيع الأوّل ) 30
Wiyana Bakda Mulud Rabi al-thani ( ربيع الثاني ) 29
Widada Jumadil Awal Jumada al-awwal ( جمادى الأولى ) 30
Widarpa Jumadil Akhir Jumada al-thani ( جمادى الآخرة ) 29
Wilarpa Rejeb Rajab ( رجب ) 30
Wahana Ruwah Sha'aban ( شعبان ) 29
Wanana Pasa Ramadhan ( رمضان ) 30
Wurana Sawal Shawwal ( شوّال ) 29
Wujana Sela Dhu al-Qi'dah ( ذو القعدة ) 30
Wujala Besar Dhu al-Hijjah ( ذو الحجّة ) 29 or 30

Leght of the last month is depending on the length of the tahun.

The cycle of months is considered metaphorically to represent the cycle of human life. The first nine months represent gestation before birth, while the tenth month represents the human in the world, the eleventh the end of his or her existence, and the twelfth the return to where he or she came from. The cycle thus goes from one spark or conception (rijal) to another, traversing through the void (suwung).[6]

Year designation[edit]

The Shalivahana era, which started in 78 CE and continues to be used on Bali, was used in Hindu times on Java, and for well over a century after the appearance of Islam on Java.

When Sultan Agung adopted the Islamic lunar calendar in 1633 CE, he did not adopt the Anno Hegirae to designate those years, but instead continued the count of the Shalivahana era, which was 1555 at the time.[5] As a result, the Anno Javanico does not in effect count from any time.

Cycles of years[edit]

Eight tahun makes up a windu. A single windu lasts for 81 repetitions of the wetonan cycle, or 2,835 days (about 7 years 9 months in the Gregorian calendar). Note that the tahun are lunar years, and of shorter length than Gregorian years. The names of the years in the cycle of windu are as follows (in krama/ngoko):

  1. Purwana/Alip (354 days)
  2. Karyana/Ehé (354 days)
  3. Anama/Jemawal (355 days)
  4. Lalana/Jé (354 days)
  5. Ngawanga/Dal (355 days)
  6. Pawaka/Bé (354 days)
  7. Wasana/Wawu (354 days)
  8. Swasana/Jimakir (355 days)

The windu are then grouped into a cycle of four:

  1. Windu Adi
  2. Windu Kunthara
  3. Windu Sengara
  4. Windu Sancaya

The cycles of wulan, tahun, and windu are derived from the Saka calendar.

Windu' are no longer used much in horoscopy, but there is evidence that it was previously used by court officials to predict trends. The passing of a windu is often seen as a milestone and deserving a slametan ritual feast).[1]

Dino Mulyo[edit]

Dino Mulyo (literally "noble days") are celebrated by worshipping Gusti, the creator of life and the universe. Practitioners of traditional Javanese spiritual teachings have preserved several noble days:[6]

  • Satu Suro, the first of Sura, the New Year
  • Hanggara Aish : Tuesday Kliwon
  • Dino Purnomo: Jemuah Legi/Sukra Manis (Friday Legi)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Arciniega, Matthew. "More about Javanese Wetonan". 
  2. ^ a b c d e Oey, Eric (2001). Java. Tuttle Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-962-593244-6. ISBN 962-593-244-5. 
  3. ^ Ricklefs, M.C. (1993). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300. Stanford University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-8047-2195-5. 
  4. ^ a b c Raffles, Thomas Stamford (1817). The History of Java. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Crawfurd, John (1820). History of the Indian Archipelago vol. 1. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable and Co. 
  6. ^ a b c d Negoro, Suryo S. "Javanese Calendar and Its Significance to Mystical Life". Joglosemar. 
  7. ^ Furmann, Klaus (2000). "Formen der javanischen Pilgerschaft zu Heiligenschreinen". Dissertation for Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (University of Freiburg): 231. 
  8. ^ Kunst, Jaap (1949). Music in Java. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. pp. 151–152. 
  9. ^ Doyodipuro, Ki Hudoyo (1995). Misteri Pranata Mangsa. Semarang: Dahara Prize. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Pigeaud, Th., Javaans-Nederlands Woordenboek. GroningenBatavia: J.B. Wolters, 1938
  • Quinn, George The Javanese science of 'burglary' , RIMA. Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, IX:1 January–June 1975. pp. 33–54.
  • Ricklefs, M.C., Modern Javanese historical tradition: a study of an original Kartasura chronicle and related materials. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1978
  • Soebardi. Calendrical traditions in Indonesia Madjalah IIlmu-ilmu Satsra Indonesia, 1965 no.3.