Burmese calendar

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The Burmese calendar (Burmese: မြန်မာသက္ကရာဇ်, pronounced: [mjəmà θɛʔkəɹɪʔ], or ကောဇာသက္ကရာဇ်, [kɔ́zà θɛʔkəɹɪʔ]), also called Burmese Era (BE) or Myanmar Era (ME), is a lunisolar calendar in which the months are based on lunar months and years are based on solar years. The calendar is largely based on an older version of the Hindu calendar though unlike the Indian systems, it employs a version of the Metonic cycle. The calendar therefore has to reconcile the sidereal years of the Hindu calendar with Metonic cycle's tropical years by adding intercalary months and days on irregular intervals.

The calendar has been used continuously in various Burmese states since its launch in 640 CE in Sri Ksetra Kingdom. It was also used as the official calendar in other mainland Southeast Asian kingdoms of Arakan, Lan Na, Xishuangbanna, Lan Xang, Siam, and Cambodia down to the late 19th century.

Today, the calendar is used only in Myanmar as the traditional civil calendar, alongside the Buddhist calendar. It is still used to mark traditional holidays such as the Burmese New Year, and other traditional festivals, many of which are Burmese Buddhist in nature.

History[edit]

Origin[edit]

The Burmese chronicles trace the origin of the Burmese calendar to ancient India with the introduction of Kali Yuga Era in 3102 BCE. That seminal calendar is said to have been recalibrated by King Añjana (အဉ္စန), the maternal grandfather of the Buddha in 691 BCE. That calendar in turn was recalibrated and replaced by the Buddhist Era with the starting year of 544 BCE.[1] The Buddhist Era came to be adopted in the early Pyu city-states by the beginning of the Common Era. Then in 78 CE, a new era called Shalivahana era, also called Sakra Era or Saka Era, was launched in India. Two years later, the new era was adopted in the Pyu state of Sri Ksetra, and the era later spread to the rest of the Pyu states.[2]

The chronicles continue that the Pagan Kingdom at first followed the prevailing Saka Pyu Era but in 640 CE, King Popa Sawrahan (r. 613–640) recalibrated the calendar, named the new era Kawza Thekkarit (ကောဇာ သက္ကရာဇ် [kɔ́zà θɛʔkəɹɪʔ])[3] with a Year Zero starting date of 22 March 638 CE.[4] It was used as the civil calendar while the Buddhist Era remained in use as the religious calendar.

Scholarship accepts the chronicle narrative regarding the North Indian origin of the calendar and the chronology of adoption in Burma up to the Mahāsakaraj Era. Recent research suggests that the Gupta Era (Epochal year of 320 CE) may also have been in use in the Pyu states.[note 1] Mainstream scholarship however holds that the recalibrated calendar was launched at Sri Ksetra, and later adopted by the upstart principality of Pagan.[5][6]

Spread[edit]

The adoption by an ascendant Pagan paved the way for the calendar's adoption elsewhere in the Pagan Empire between the 11th and 13th centuries. The calendar first came to be used in peripheral regions or neighboring states such as Arakan in the west and various Shan states in modern northern Thailand and Laos in the east which adopted the calendar alongside the Burmese New Year related folklore.[7] According to the Chiang Mai Chronicles and the Chaing Saen Chronicles, Chiang Mai and Chiang Saen and their tributary states of middle and upper Tai country (except Lamphun and Sukhothai) submitted to King Anawrahta and adopted the calendar in the mid-11th century in place of Mahāsakaraj, the standard calendar of the Khmer Empire.[8][note 2] However, scholarship says the earliest evidence of Burmese calendar in modern Thailand dates only to mid-13th century.[9]

While the use of the calendar appears to have spread southward to the Sukhothai and eastward to Laotian states in the following centuries,[8] the official adoption farther south by the Ayutthaya Kingdom and farther east by Lan Xang came only after King Bayinnaung's conquests of those kingdoms in the 16th century. Subsequent Siamese kingdoms retained the Burmese calendar as the official calendar under the name of Chulasakarat (Pali: Culāsakaraj) until 1889.[10][11] The Siamese adoption turned out to be the main catalyst for the calendar's usage in Cambodia,[12] a periodic vassal of Siam between the 16th and 19th centuries. Likewise, the calendar spread to Chittagong region of Bengal, which was dominated by the Arakanese Mrauk-U Kingdom from the 15th to 17th centuries.[1]

Development and changes[edit]

The calculation system of the Burmese calendar was originally based on Thuriya Theiddanta (သူရိယသိဒ္ဓန္တ [θùɹḭja̰ θeiʔdàɴta̰], which is believed to be chiefly based on the "original" Surya Siddhanta system of ancient India (i.e. Ardharatrika school).[13] One key difference with Indian systems was that the Burmese system followed a 19-year intercalation schedule (Metonic cycle). It is unclear from where, when or how the Metonic system was introduced; hypotheses range from China to Europe.[note 3]

The Burmese system thus uses a "strange" combination of sidereal years from Indian calendar in combination with the Metonic cycle intended for tropical years, necessitating intercalation adjustments to reconcile the differences.[14] Furthermore, the Burmese system did not incorporate advances in Indian calculation methods of the sidereal year until the mid-19th century.[note 4] (The original Thuriya Theiddanta system is 0.56 second a year slower (and more accurate) than later Indian systems.[15])

The earliest attempts on record to change the calendar were superficial. On the 800th anniversary of the calendar (29 March 1438), King Mohnyin Thado recalibrated the calendar to Year 2 (with Year Zero beginning on 18 March 1436).[16] But the king died just over a year after the launch, and the new era died out a few years later. The next proposed change came in March 1638 from King Prasat Thong of Siam who in preparation of the upcoming millennial anniversary (10 April 1638) wanted to make a change to the governing animals of the months.[17] As the practice was not prevalent in Burma, the proposal was rejected by King Thalun.

Meanwhile the increasing cumulative discrepancy between the civil solar and luni-solar years increasingly attracted attention. In the 1100th anniversary year (1738 CE), a new system of calculation, which aimed to correct the errors of the original system, was proposed but the Toungoo court did not take any action. The present Surya Siddhanta (i.e., Saura school) was introduced to the Konbaung court in 1786, and was translated into Burmese after about 50 years.[13][18] Finally, a new system called Thandeikta was proposed by Nyaunggan Sayadaw, a Buddhist monk, in Year 1200 (1838 CE).[19]

The new system was a hybrid between the original and the updated Surya schools. Unlike the new Surya, Thandeikta does not adopt the system of apparent reckoning; mean years and mean months are still used. It also retains the practice of placing the intercalary month always next to Waso and the intercalary day always at the end of Nayon, and only in a year which has an intercalary month. But Thandeikta follows the new Surya in small alterations of the length of the year and the month. The prevailing Metonic schedule was modified, and intercalary months were so fixed as to prevent further divergence between the solar and luni-solar years. With the support of Princess Sekkya Dewi, who later became the chief queen of King Mindon, the new system was fully adopted in 1853. The first adjustment to then existing Metonic Cycle was made by putting an intercalary month in 1201 ME (1839 CE) instead of 1202 ME (1840).[18]

While the new system has seemingly narrowed the gap between the calendar's solar and lunar years, it has not made the calendar more accurate when compared against the actual tropical year. Indeed, it is slightly worse than the old system. (The Thandeikta solar year is about 23 minutes 51.4304 seconds ahead of the mean solar year whereas Makaranta is about 23 minutes 50.8704 seconds ahead.)[20] As a result, the calendar has kept on drifting away from the actual solar year. The calendarists have periodically resorted to modifying its intercalation schedule, based on apparent reckoning, to keep pace, at the expense of making publishing future calendars more than a few years out all but impossible.

In sum, the calendar has used at least three periods when slightly different methods of calculation were used to determine the insertion times of the intercalary day and month.

Era Definition Description
Thuriya Theiddanta Prior to 1215 ME (to 1853 CE) Metonic cycle determines intercalary day and month insertion points
Thandeikta 1215–1311 ME (1853–1950 CE) Modified Metonic cycle: # of excess days in the first 4 months determines intercalary day and month insertion points
Current 1312 ME (1950 CE) to present Current system used by Myanmar Calendar Advisory Board; Modified Metonic cycle: # of excess days in the first 8 months determines intercalary day and month insertion points

Current status[edit]

The calendar fell out of the official status in several mainland Southeast Asian kingdoms in the second half of the 19th century with the arrival of the European colonialism. The Gregorian calendar replaced the Burmese calendar in Cambodia in 1863, Burma in 1885 and Laos in 1889.[note 5] In 1889, the only remaining independent kingdom in Southeast Asia, Siam, also replaced the Burmese calendar and switched to the Gregorian calendar as the official civil calendar and Ratanakosin Era (with 1782 CE as Year 1) as the traditional lunisolar calendar.[10]

Today, the calendar is used purely for cultural and religious festivals in Myanmar. Thailand has moved on to its own version of Buddhist calendar since 1941 although the Chulasakarat era dates remain the most commonly used and preferred form of entry by the academia for historical studies.[9] The Chittagong Magi-San calendar, identical to the Arakanese calendar, is still used by certain ethnic minorities of Bangladesh.[1]

Structure[edit]

Day[edit]

The calendar recognizes two types of day: astronomical and civil. The mean Burmese astronomical day is from midnight to midnight, and represents 1/30th of a synodic month or 23 hours, 37 minutes and 28.08 seconds. The civil day comprises two halves, the first half beginning at sunrise and the second half at sunset. In practice, four points of the astronomical and civil day (sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight) were used as reference points. The civil day is divided into 8 baho (ဗဟို [bəhò]) (3 hours) or 60 nayi (နာရီ [nàjì]) (24 minutes), each baho equaling 7.5 nayi. In the past, a gong (မောင်း [máʊɴ]) was struck every nayi while a drum (စည် [sì]) and a large bell (ခေါင်းလောင်း [kʰáʊɴ láʊɴ]) were struck to mark every baho.[21]

Type Time Burmese name Description
Day 1 o'clock နံနက် တစ်ချက်တီး midway between sunrise and midday
2 o'clock နေ့ နှစ်ချက်တီး noon (midday)
3 o'clock နေ့ သုံးချက်တီး midway between noon and sunset
4 o'clock နေ့ လေးချက်တီး sunset
Night 1 o'clock ည တစ်ချက်တီး midway between sunset and midnight
2 o'clock ည နှစ်ချက်တီး midnight
3 o'clock ည သုံးချက်တီး midway between midnight and sunrise
4 o'clock နံနက် လေးချက်တီး sunrise

Although the popular usage never extended beyond baho and nayi measurements, the calendar consists of time units down to the millisecond level.

Unit Sub-units Approximate equivalent time
yet
ရက်
8 baho 1 day
baho
ဗဟို[note 6]
7.5 nayi 3 hours
nayi
နာရီ
4 pat 24 minutes
pat
ပါဒ်
15 bizana 6 minutes
bizana
ဗီဇနာ
6 pyan 24 seconds
pyan
ပြန်
10 khaya 4 seconds
khaya
ခရာ
12 khana 0.4 second
khana
ခဏ
4 laya 0.03333 second
laya
လယ
1.25 anukhaya 0.00833 second
anukhaya
အနုခရာ
<base unit> 0.00667 second

Only the following are used in calendrical calculations:

Unit Sub-units Approximate equivalent time
yet 60 nayi 1 day
nayi 60 bizana 24 minutes
bizana 60 khaya 24 seconds
khaya 60 anukhaya 0.4 second
anukhaya <base unit> 0.00667 second

Therefore, modern time units can be expressed as:

Unit Approximate equivalent Burmese units
hour 2.5 nayi
minute 2.5 bizana
second 2.5 anukhaya

Week[edit]

The civil week consists of seven days. It was also customary to denote the week of the day with by its preassigned numerical value between zero and six. The names Taninganwe (Sunday) and Taninla (Monday) are derived from Old Burmese but the rest from Sanskrit.[22]

Numerical notation Name IPA Description
0 Sanay
စနေ
[sənè] Saturday
1 Taninganwe
တနင်္ဂနွေ
[tənɪ́ɴɡənwè] Sunday
2 Taninla
တနင်္လာ
[tənɪ́ɴlà] Monday
3 Inga
အင်္ဂါ
[ɪ̀ɴɡà] Tuesday
4 Boddahu
ဗုဒ္ဓဟူး
[boʊʔdəhú] Wednesday
5 Kyathabade
ကြာသပတေး
[tɕàðàbədé] Thursday
6 Thaukkya
သောကြာ
[θaʊʔtɕà] Friday

Month[edit]

The calendar recognizes two types of months: synodic month and sidereal month.[23] The Synodic months are used to compose the years while the 27 lunar sidereal days (နက္ခတ် [nɛʔkʰaʔ]; from Sanskrit nakshatra), alongside the 12 signs of the zodiac, are used for astrological calculations.[24] (The calendar also recognizes a solar month called Thuriya Matha, which is defined as 1/12th of a year.[25] But the solar month varies by the type of year such as tropical year, sidereal year, etc.)

Type Mean # of days per Thuriya Theiddanta Mean # of days per Thandeikta
Synodic lunar month
စန္ဒရမာသ လ
29.530583 29.530587946
Sidereal month
နက္ခတ္တမာသ လ
27.3216574

The days of the month are counted in two halves, waxing (လဆန်း [la̰záɴ]) and waning (လဆုတ် [la̰zoʊʔ]). The 15th of the waxing (လပြည့် [la̰bjḛ]) is the civil full moon day. The civil new moon day (လကွယ် [la̰ɡwɛ̀]) is the last day of the month (14th or 15th waning). The mean and real (true) New Moons rarely coincide. The mean New Moon often precedes the real New Moon.[23][24]

Type Days Description
Waxing
လဆန်း
1 to 15 from New Moon to Full Moon
Full Moon
လပြည့်
15 Full Moon
Waning
လဆုတ်
1 to 14 or 15 from Full Moon to New Moon
New Moon
လကွယ်
15 New Moon

As the Synodic lunar month is approximately 29.5 days, the calendar uses alternating months of 29 and 30 days. The 29-day months are called yet-ma-son la (ရက်မစုံလ), and the 30-day months are called yet-son la (ရက်စုံလ).[23] Unlike in other Southeast Asian traditions, the Burmese calendar uses Burmese names for the month names. Although the names sound foreign in origin to modern Burmese ears, all but three are derived from Old Burmese. The three exceptions—Mleta/Myweta (မ္လယ်တာ / မြွယ်တာ), Nanka (နံကာ), Thantu (သန်တူ)—which all fall during the Buddhist Lent, have been replaced by newer Burmese names (Waso, Wagaung, Thadingyut), which used to mean just the Full Moon days of the three months.[26]

Burmese Mon # of days
(non-leap year)
Tagu
တန်ခူး
Ce
စဲ, /coa/
29
Kason
ကဆုန်
Pas
ပသာ်, /pəsaik/
30
Nayon
နယုန်
Hje
ဇှ်ေ, /cèh/
29
Waso
ဝါဆို
Daguin
ဓဂိုန်, /həkɜ̀n/
30
Wagaung
ဝါခေါင်
Sresi
သ္ဍဲသဳ, /hədoa sɔe/
29
Tawthalin
တော်သလင်း
Bhat
ဘတ်, /phòt/
30
Thadingyut
သီတင်းကျွတ်
Hva
ဝှ်, /wòh/
29
Tazaungmon
တန်ဆောင်မုန်း
Gahtuin
ဂထိုန်, /kəthɒn/
30
Nadaw
နတ်တော်
Mreggatui
မြေဂ္ဂသဵု, /pəròikkəsɒ/
29
Pyatho
ပြာသို
Puh
ပုဟ်, /paoh/
30
Tabodwe
တပို့တွဲ
Ma
မာ်, /màik/
29
Tabaung
တပေါင်း
Phawraguin
ဖဝ်ရဂိုန်, /phɔrəkɜ̀n/
30

In great leap years, the month of Nayon gets an extra intercalary day called yet-lun (ရက်လွန်) or yet-ngin (ရက်ငင်) and has 30 days.[23] In the Arakanese calendar, the month of Tagu gets the extra intercalary day in great leap years.[18]

Year[edit]

Types of astronomical year[edit]

The calendar recognizes three types of astronomical year: tropical year, sidereal year and anomalistic year.[21]

Year Name Description # of mean solar days by original Surya # of mean solar days by Thandeikta
Thawanamatha Hnit
သာဝနမာသနှစ်
tropical year 365.25875 365.2587564814
Nekkhattamahta Hnit
နက္ခတ္တမာသနှစ်
sidereal year 365.2729132
Thuriyamatha Hnit
သူရိယမာသနှစ်
anomalistic year 365.2770951

Types of calendar year[edit]

The Burmese calendar is a lunisolar calendar in which the months are based on lunar months and years are based on solar years. One of its primary objectives is to regulate the lunar part that it will keep pace with the solar part. The lunar months, normally twelve of them, consist alternately of 29 days and 30 days, such that a normal lunar year will contain 354 days, as opposed to the solar year of ~365.25 days. Therefore some form of addition to the lunar year (of intercalation) is necessary. The overall basis for it is provided by cycles of 57 years. Eleven extra days are inserted in every 57 years, and seven extra months of 30 days are inserted in every 19 years (21 months in 57 years). This provides 20819 complete days to both calendars.[27]

As such, the calendar adds an intercalary month (ဝါထပ် [wà daʔ]) in leap years (ဝါငယ်ထပ်နှစ် [wàŋɛ̀daʔ n̥ɪʔ]) and sometimes also an intercalary day (ရက်ငင် [jɛʔ ŋɪ̀ɴ]) in great leap years (ဝါကြီးထပ်နှစ် [wàdʑídaʔ n̥ɪʔ]). The intercalary month not only corrects the length of the year but also corrects the accumulating error of the month to extent of half a day. The average length of the month is further corrected by adding a day to Nayon at irregular intervals—a little more than seven times in two cycles (39 years). The intercalary day is never inserted except in a year which has an intercalary month.[24] The Hindu calendar inserts an intercalary month at any time of year as soon as the accumulated fractions amount to one month. The Burmese calendar however always inserts the intercalary month at the same time of the year, after the summer solstice while the Arakanese calendar inserts it after the vernal equinox.[18]

The actual calendar year (Wawharamatha Hnit, ဝေါဟာရမာသနှစ်) consists of 354, 384 or 385 days.

Month Regular year Small leap year Big leap year
Tagu 29 29 29
Kason 30 30 30
Nayon 29 29 30
Waso 30 30 30
2nd Waso n/a 30 30
Wagaung 29 29 29
Tawthalin 30 30 30
Thadingyut 29 29 29
Tazaungmon 30 30 30
Nadaw 29 29 29
Pyatho 30 30 30
Tabodwe 29 29 29
Tabaung 30 30 30
Total 354 384 385

The Thai Chulasakarat calendar uses a slightly different method to place the intercalary day. Instead of it in a leap year as in the Burmese system, the Thai system places it in a separate year. Thus, the Thai small leap year has 355 days while the Thai great leap year has 384 days.[28] Both systems arrive at the same number of days in a 19-year cycle however. Furthermore, in contrast to Indian calendars, the Burmese calendar follows a Metonic cycle in which intercalary months are inserted on a set schedule. However, because the Burmese calendar has to adjust for the use of Indian-calendar-derived sidereal years with the Metonic cycle's tropical years, maintaining a set Metonic cycle has been a challenge.[14]

The calendar seems to have employed several schedules to determine which of the 19 years will be intercalary years. To find out which year will have an intercalary month, divide the Burmese year by 19. The quotient is the expired cycles. The remainder, if tallies with the set sequence number of the prevailing Metonic cycle, then it will be an intercalary year.[29]

System Intercalary years in 19-year cycle
Pre-1740 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 18
1740 2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 18
1892 1, 4, 7, 9, 12, 15, 18
1990s 1, 4, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18

New year's day[edit]

Since the main purpose of Burmese calendar is to keep pace with the solar year, the new year is always marked by the solar year, which falls at the time when the Sun enters Aries.[23] The date, which at the present falls on the 16th or 17 April, has slowly drifted over the centuries. In the 20th century, the New Year's Day fell on April 15 or 16th but in the 17th century, it fell on April 9 or 10th.[30]

As a result, the New Year's Day of Burmese calendar does not have to fall on the first day of the first month of Tagu; in fact, it almost never does fall on the first waxing of Tagu. Tagu is almost always divided into two parts Hnaung Tagu (နှောင်းတန်ခူး [n̥áʊɴ dəɡú]; "Late Tagu"), before the New Year's Day and Oo Tagu (ဦးတန်ခူး [ʔú dəɡú]; "Early Tagu") on and after the New Year's Day. In some years, the year was so behind the solar year that the new year falls in Kason and both Hnaung Tagu and Hnaung Kason (နှောင်းကဆုန် [n̥áʊɴ kəsʰòʊɴ]; "Late Kason") exist. Therefore, just saying "Tagu of 1373 ME" is not complete as "Oo Tagu of 1373" corresponds to 2011 CE while "Hnaung Tagu of 1373" corresponds to 2012 CE.

Cycle[edit]

The calendar used to employ a 12-year Jovian cycle that redeployed the lunar month names and attached them to the years.[31] The Burmese cycle is not the more familiar Jovian cycle of India with 60 years in it.[32] The practice existed in the Pagan period but had died out by the 17th century. It still exists in Thailand and Cambodia with the same names.

Year Animal
1 Rat
2 Ox
3 Tiger
4 Rabbit
5 Dragon
6 Snake
7 Horse
8 Goat
9 Monkey
10 Rooster
11 Dog
12 Pig

Epoch[edit]

Burmese tradition recognizes the following eras. The Buddhist Era and Kawza Era are still in use in Myanmar.

Burmese name Description Year 0 date
Maha Thekkarit
မဟာ သက္ကရာဇ်
Anjanasakaraj 10 March 691 BCE
Thathana Thekkarit
သာသနာ သက္ကရာဇ်
Buddhist Era 13 May 544 BCE[note 7]
Pyu (Saka) Era
ပျူ သက္ကရာဇ်
Shalivahana era (Mahāsakaraj in Thailand) 17 March 78 CE
Kawza Thekkarit
ကောဇာ သက္ကရာဇ်
Current Burmese calendar
Chulasakarat
22 March 638[note 8]
Mohnyin Thekkarit
မိုးညှင်း သက္ကရာဇ်
18 March 1436

Accuracy[edit]

The Burmese calendar uses lunar months but tries to keep pace with the solar year. The present Thandeikta system's solar year is about 23 minutes 51.43 seconds ahead of the actual mean tropical year of 365.241289 days. The older Makaranta system was actually slightly more accurate, with 23 minutes 50.87 seconds ahead of the actual year.[20] The table below shows how Thandeikta purports to achieve a narrower difference (hence better accuracy) over Makaranta.

Makaranta Thandeikta
19 solar years 6939.91625 days 6939.9163731466 days
235 lunations 6939.687005 days 6939.68816731 days
Difference 0.229245 day 0.2282058366 day

The gain in accuracy is 0.0010391634 day (89.78371776 seconds) over 19 years, or about 4.72546 seconds a year. However, this gain is illusory as Thandeikta achieves the gain by redefining the mean lunar month (lunation) and the solar year, which unfortunately are less accurate. The table below shows the solar years of both systems in comparison with the actual mean tropical year. Thandeikta is 0.56 second a year less accurate than Makaranta.[20]

Makaranta Thandeikta
19 solar years per own definition 6939.91625 days 6939.9163731466 days
Actual 19 tropical years 6939.601591 days 6939.601591 days
Difference over 19 years 0.314659 day 0.3147821466 day
Difference over per year 23.84784 minutes
(1430.8704 seconds)
23.85717322 minutes
(1431.430393 seconds)

In sum, both systems are about 24 minutes per year ahead of the actual tropical year; the systems' methods of intercalation fixes only their internal error; and Thandeikta slightly accelerates the annual drift. The accumulating error means the New Year's Day which used to fall near the vernal equinox at its launch in 638 now falls on 17 April in 2013—a drift of 15 days, (after adjusting to the Julian and Gregorian calendar switch). Burmese calendarists have dealt with the issue by using apparent reckoning and periodically modifying the intercalation schedule in the Metonic cycle. One major downside of this approach is that it is not possible to publish future calendars more than a few years (often even a year) ahead.

Zodiac[edit]

Main article: Burmese zodiac

Seasons[edit]

The Burmese zodiac, like the Western zodiac, is divided into 12 signs called yathi (ရာသီ [jàðì]). The Burmese signs are identical to Indian and Western signs as they were derived from Indian and ultimately Western zodiac. Each yathi is divided into 30 degrees (အင်္သာ [ɪ̀ɴðà]); each degree into 60 minutes (လိတ္တာ [leiʔtà]); and each minute into 60 seconds (ဝိလိတ္တာ [wḭleiʔtà]).[33]

Longitude
အင်္သာ
Sign
ရာသီ
Sanskrit Latin Ruling planet
ရာသီခွင်
Meittha
မိဿ
Meṣha
मेष
Aries Mars
30° Pyeittha
ပြိဿ
Vṛiṣabha
वृषभ
Taurus Venus
60° Mehton
မေထုန်
Mithuna
मिथुन
Gemini Mercury
90° Karakat
ကရကဋ်
Karkaṭa
कर्कट
Cancer Moon
120° Thein
သိဟ်
Siṃha
सिंह
Leo Sun
150° Kan
ကန်
Kanyā
कन्या
Virgo Mercury
180° Tu
တူ
Tulā
तुला
Libra Venus
210° Byeissa
ဗြိစ္ဆာ
Vṛścika
वृश्चिक
Scorpio Mars
240° Danu
ဓနု
Dhanuṣa
धनुष
Sagittarius Jupiter
270° Makara
မကာရ
Makara
मकर
Capricorn Saturn
300° Kon
ကုံ
Kumbha
कुम्भ
Aquarius Saturn
330° Mein
မိန်
Mīna
मीन
Pisces Jupiter

Lunar mansions[edit]

The zodiac month consists of 27 days, approximating the mean sidereal month of 27.321661 days. Thus each zodiac day, called nekkhat, represents a lunar mansion, or a segment of the ecliptic along which the moon revolves around the earth. Though the names are Burmese adaptations of Sanskrit names, the Burmese system is not the same as the modern Indian system. The Burmese system uses unequal spaces for each segment (from 5° to 26°), and the first segment, Athawani, begins at 350° longitude. The modern Indian system uses equal segments of 13° 20' (360° divided by 27), and the first segment, Asvini, begins at 0°. The list below follows the Thandeikta system.[34]

Day Burmese Sanskrit Extent Range
1 Athawani
အဿဝဏီ
Asvini 18° 350°–8°
2 Barani
ဘရဏီ
Bharani 10° 8°–18°
3 Kyattika
ကြတ္တိကာ
Krittika 16° 18°–34°
4 Yawhani
ရောဟဏီ
Rohini 12° 34°–46°
5 Migathi
မိဂသီ
Mrigasiras 14° 46°–60°
6 Adra
အဒြ
Ardra 60°–65°
7 Ponnahpukshu
ပုဏ္ဏဖုသျှု
Punarvasu 27° 65°–92°
8 Hpusha
ဖုသျှ
Pushya 14° 92°–106°
9 Athaleiktha
အသလိဿ
Aslesha 12° 106°–118°
10 Maga
မာဃ
Magha 11° 118°–129°
11 Pyobba Baragonni
ပြုဗ္ဗာ ဘရဂုဏ္ဏီ
Purva Phalguni 16° 129°–145°
12 Ottara Baragonni
ဥတ္တရာ ဘရဂုဏ္ဏီ
Uttara Phalguni 145°–154°
13 Hathada
ဟဿဒ
Hasta 10° 154°–164°
14 Seiktra
စိတြ
Chitra 15° 164°–179°
15 Thwati
သွာတိ
Svati 13° 179°–192°
16 Withaka
ဝိသာခါ
Visakha 21° 192°–213°
17 Anuyada
အနုရာဓ
Anuradha 11° 213°–224°
18 Zehta
ဇေဋ္ဌ
Jyeshtha 224°–229°
19 Mula
မူလ
Mula 13° 229°–242°
20 Pyobba Than
ပြုဗ္ဗာသဠ်
Purva Ashadha 15° 242°–257°
21 Ottara Than
ဥတ္တရာသဠ်
Uttara Ashadha 257°–262°
22 Tharawun
သရဝဏ်
Sravana 13° 262°–275°
23 Danatheikda
ဓနသိဒ္ဓ
Dhanishtha 12° 275°–287°
24 Thattabeiksha
သတ္တဘိသျှ
Satataraka 26° 287°–313°
25 Pyobba Parabaik
ပြုဗ္ဗာ ပုရပိုက်
Purva Bhadrapada 10° 313°–323°
26 Ottara Parabaik
ဥတ္တရာ ပုရပိုက်
Uttara Bhadrapada 16° 323°–339°
27 Yewati
ရေဝတီ
Revati 11° 339°–350°

Weekdays[edit]

The Burmese zodiac recognizes eight signs in a seven-day week.

Cardinal direction Burmese Sanskrit English Planet Sign
Northeast Taninganwe
တနင်္ဂနွေ
Aditya Sunday Sun Garuda
ဂဠုန်
East Taninla
တနင်္လာ
Chandra Monday Moon Tiger
ကျား
Southeast Inga
အင်္ဂါ
Angaraka Tuesday Mars Lion
ခြင်္သေ့
South Boddahu
ဗုဒ္ဓဟူး
Budha Wednesday a.m. Mercury Tusked elephant
ဆင်
Northwest Rahu
ရာဟု
Rahu Wednesday p.m. Lunar node Tuskless elephant
ဟိုင်း
West Kyathabade
ကြာသပတေး
Bṛhaspati Thursday Jupiter Rat
ကြွက်
North Thaukkya
သောကြာ
Shukra Friday Venus Guinea pig
ပူး
Southwest Sanay
စနေ
Shani Saturday Saturn Nāga
နဂါး

Variants[edit]

The Burmese calendar has a number of variants inside present-day Myanmar as well as outside. The variants outside Myanmar are still in use albeit under a different year numbering system.

Arakanese[edit]

According to Arakanese (Rakhine) tradition, the calendar was launched by King Thuriya Thehta of Dhanyawaddy Dynasty. At least down to the early 20th century, the Arakanese calendar used the Makaranta system although the Burmese calendar had moved to the Thandeikta system since the mid-19th century. In the Arakanese calendar, the month of Tagu gets the extra intercalary day in great leap years.[18] Moreover, in Arakanese tradition, only the New Year's Day is observed.[35] The Arakanese calendar under the name of Magi-San is still used by the Magh people of Bangladesh.[18]

Chulasakarat[edit]

Main article: Chulasakarat

The Burmese calendar first came to be adopted in present-day northern Thailand in the mid-13th century, and in central Thailand by the second half of 16th century. Although then mainland kingdoms of Lan Na, Lan Xang, Siam, and later Cambodia adopted the Burmese epoch starting at 638 CE, each region retained its own traditions and/or introduced its own modifications afterwards. For example, the Kengtung, Lan Na, Lan Xang, and Sukhothai calendars still retained the use of numbering the months even though the Burmese calendar stopped using the numbered months alongside the month names. The use of numbering system may have predated the introduction of the Burmese calendar in any case since each region had its own numbering system. The first numbered month in Kengtung, Lan Na, Lan Xang and Sukhothai calendars is Tazaungmon (Karttika), Thadingyut (Asvina), (Nadaw) Margasirsha, and (Nadaw) Margasirsha, respectively.[36] This means reading ancient texts and inscriptions in Thailand requires constant vigilance, not just in making sure one is correctly operating for the correct region, but also for variations within regions itself when incursions cause a variation in practice.[28] (Note: The Sukhothai and Lan Xang numbering systems and the now abandoned Burmese numbering system are the same.[36])

Likewise, Cambodian and Thai systems have retained the practice of giving animal names to the years from a cycle of 12.[37] The practice also existed in Burma in the Pagan period but later died out.[31]

Moreover, Chulasakarat uses three similar but not identical types of lunar years used by the Burmese calendar.[28] Each calendar has the same regular year of 354 days and a leap year of 384 days. However, whereas the Burmese calendar adds the intercalary day only in a leap cycle according to its Metonic cycle, the Siamese calendar adds the intercalary day to a regular year. The Siamese calendar does add the extra day in the same place (Jyestha/Nayon), however.[38]

Calendar Regular Small leap year Big leap year
Burmese 354 384 385
Chulasakarat 354 355 384

Lastly, the calculation methods also diverged in the mid-19th century when Konbaung Dynasty switched to the Thandeikta method, which is 0.56 second per year longer than the old system.[15]

Dai[edit]

The traditional Dai calendar of Dai people of Xishuangbanna in China is largely based on the Burmese calendar although it may have some Chinese influences.[13]

Current usage[edit]

The Burmese calendar is still used to determine a number of public holidays in Myanmar.

Event name Burmese calendar date International date
Full moon of Tabaung Full moon of Tabaung March–April
Burmese New Year Festival Almost always in Tagu, sometimes in Kason 13–17 April
Buddha Day Full moon of Kason May–June
Start of Buddhist Lent Full moon of Waso June–July
End of Buddhist Lent Full moon of Thadingyut October–November
Tazaungdaing Festival Full moon of Tazaungmon November–December
National Day 10th waning of Tazaungmon November–December

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (Aung-Thwin 2005: 334–335): More research needs to be done. A Pyu stone inscription discovered in 1993 indicates that Pyu states may have also used the Gupta Era.
  2. ^ (Oriental 1900: 375–376): "The invasion of Lavo [Laos] ascribed to Anawrahta was more probably the work of some of his successors."
  3. ^ (Ohashi 2001: 398–399): Astronomers of ancient India certainly knew of the Metonic cycle, and may have introduced the concept to Southeast Asia. However, the Metonic cycle, which employs tropical years, is incompatible with sidereal based Hindu calendars, and thus was not (and still is not) used in Hindu calendars. (Chatterjee 1998: 151) suggests that the Metonic system was introduced to Burma by Europeans. (Ohashi 2001: 398–399) rejects Chatterjee's hypothesis saying that "no other trace of European influence is found in South-East Asian astronomy." Instead, (Ohashi 2001: 401–403) suggests that China may have been the source of the Metonic cycle.
  4. ^ A.M.B. Irwin (Irwin 1909: 2–3) suggests that by 1738, the calendar was on the Makaranta system, an adaptation of the original Surya system. But J.C. Eade (Eade 1996: 17) doubts Irwin's assessment, saying he has found no differences with the original system still prevalent in mainland Southeast Asia at least to Pagan period inscriptions. Since the Burmese calendar was officially adopted only in 1564 in Siam, and since later Siamese calendars still used the original Surya, the Burmese calendar must have followed the original Surya at least to the 16th century, if not later. Even if the Makaranta system had come to be used in Burma in the following centuries, Ohashi (Ohashi 2007: 354–355) says the Burmese Makaranta system is "probably different from the well-known Indian Sanskrit astronomical table (Makarandasarani (1478 CE) of Makaranda, which follows the Saura school".
  5. ^ (Simms and Simms 2001: 204–210) Laos became a French protectorate in March 1889 although the former overlord Siam would not acknowledge it until October 1893.
  6. ^ archaic spelling ပဟိုရ် as seen in the Maha Yazawin chronicle (Maha Yazawin Vol. 2: 260)
  7. ^ (Kala Vol. 1 2006: 38): According to Burmese tradition, the Buddha died on the full moon day of Kason 148 Anjanasakaraj.
  8. ^ (Luce Vol. 2 1970: 336): According to planetary positions, the current Burmese era technically began at 11:11:24 on 22 March 638.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Irwin 1909: 2
  2. ^ Htin Aung 1970: 8–9
  3. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 216
  4. ^ Eade 1989: 39
  5. ^ Hall 1960: 8
  6. ^ Aung-Thwin 2005: 35
  7. ^ Htin Aung 1959: 38–39
  8. ^ a b Oriental 1900: 375–376
  9. ^ a b Eade 1989: 11
  10. ^ a b Smith 1966: 11
  11. ^ Htin Aung 1967: 127
  12. ^ Eade 1989: 9
  13. ^ a b c Ohashi 2007: 354–355
  14. ^ a b Ohashi 2001: 398–399
  15. ^ a b Irwin 1909: 7
  16. ^ Eade 1995: 17
  17. ^ Rong 1986: 70
  18. ^ a b c d e f Irwin 1909: 2–3
  19. ^ Clancy 1906: 58
  20. ^ a b c Irwin 1909: 26–27
  21. ^ a b Clancy 1906: 57
  22. ^ Luce Vol. 2 1970: 327
  23. ^ a b c d e Clancy 1906: 56–57
  24. ^ a b c Irwin 1909: 8–9
  25. ^ Irwin 1909: 5
  26. ^ Luce Vol. 2 1970: 328
  27. ^ Eade 1995: 15
  28. ^ a b c Eade 1989: 9–10
  29. ^ Chatterjee 1998: 150–151
  30. ^ Eade 1989: 135–145, 165–175
  31. ^ a b Luce Vol. 2 1970: 330
  32. ^ Eade 1995: 23-24
  33. ^ Irwin 1909: 7–8
  34. ^ Irwin 1909: 10–11
  35. ^ Parise 2002: 190
  36. ^ a b Eade 1995: 28–29
  37. ^ Eade 1995: 22
  38. ^ Eade 1989: 20

Bibliography[edit]

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  • Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma (3rd ed.). Hutchinson University Library. ISBN 978-1-4067-3503-1. 
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  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1970). Burmese History before 1287: A Defence of the Chronicles. Oxford: The Asoka Society. 
  • Irwin, Sir Alfred Macdonald Bulteel (1909). The Burmese and Arakanese calendars. Rangoon: Hanthawaddy Printing Works. 
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  • Ohashi, Yukio (2007). "Astronomy in Mainland Southeast Asia". In H. Selin. Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures (2, illustrated ed.). Springer. ISBN 9781402045592. 
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  • Simms, Peter; Sanda Simms (2001). The Kingdoms of Laos: Six Hundred Years of History (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. ISBN 9780700715312. 
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External links[edit]