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Malayalam calendar or Kollam Era, also known as Kollavarsham, is a solar and sidereal Hindu calendar used in Kerala, India. The origin of the calendar has been dated as 825 CE (Pothu Varsham) at Kollam.
There are multiple conflicting accounts regarding the origins of the Malayalam calendar, some of which are mentioned below:
- The origin of Kollam Era has been dated to 825 AD, when the great convention in Kollam was held at the behest of King Kulashekhara. Kollam was an important town in that period, and the Malayalam Era is called 'Kollavarsham', possibly as a result of the Tharisapalli plates. It also signifies the independence of Malabar from the Cheraman Perumals.
- According to Hermann Gundert, Kollavarsham started as part of erecting a new Shiva Temple in Kollam and because of the strictly local and religious background, the other regions did not follow this system at first. Once Kollam port emerged as an important trade center, however, the other countries also started to follow the new system of calendar. This theory backs the remarks of Ibn Battuta as well.
- It is believed that the era was started by the East Syrian saints Mar Sabor and Mar Proth who settled in Korukeni, Kollam, near to the present Kollam.
The Malayalam months are named after the Zodiac signs. Thus Cingam (from Simham or Lion) is named after the constellation Leo and so on. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar:
|Months in Malayalam Era||In Malayalam||Gregorian Calendar||Tulu calendar||Tamil calendar||Saka era||Sign of Zodiac|
The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Aazhcha (ആഴ്ച), meaning week.
Like the months above, there are twenty seven stars starting from Aswati (Ashvinī in Sanskrit) and ending in Revatī. The 365 days of the year are divided into groups of fourteen days called Ñattuvela (ഞാറ്റുവേല), each one bearing the name of a star.
Vishu (വിഷു), celebrated on the 1st of Metam, and Onam (ഓണം), celebrated on the star Thiruvonam [t̪iruʋoːɳəm] in the month of Chingam, are two of the major festivals. The first day of Chingam is celebrated as the Kerala New Year replacing Vishu (വിഷു), which was till then[when?] considered the beginning of a year.
The Makaravilakku festival is celebrated in the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on the 1st day of month Makaram. This marks the grand finale of the two-month period to the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The 1st of Makaram marks the Winter Solstice (Uttarayanam) and the 1st of Karkadakam marks the summer solstice (Dakshinayanam) according to the Malayalam calendar. (According to the astronomical calendar the summer solstice is on June 21, and the winter solstice on December 21)
Formerly the New Year in the Malabar region was on the 1st of Kanni and that in the Travancore region was on the 1st of Chingam. When the Government of Kerala adopted Kolla Varsham as the regional calendar the 1st of Chingam was accepted as the Malayalam New Year. Metam is the first month according to the astronomical calendar; it is identical with Chaitram of the Saka Varsha. The first of these months are supposed to mark the vernal equinox. Astronomically the calendars need to be corrected to coincide with actual vernal equinox which falls on the 21st of March. (Chaitram 1 usually falls on March 20, and Metam 1 falls on April 14.)
Many events in Kerala are related to the dates in the Malayalam calendar.
The agricultural activities of Kerala are centred on the seasons. The southwest monsoon which starts around June 1 is known as Etavappathi, meaning mid-Etavam. The northeast monsoon which starts during mid October is called thulavarsham (rain in the month of thulam). The two harvests of paddy are called Kannikkoythu and Makarakkoythu (harvests in the months kanni and makaram) respectively.
- "Kollam Era" (PDF). Indian Journal History of Science. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- Broughton Richmond (1956), Time measurement and calendar construction, p. 218
- R. Leela Devi (1986). History of Kerala. Vidyarthi Mithram Press & Book Depot. p. 408.
- A. Sreedhara Menon (2007) . "CHAPTER VIII - THE KOLLAM ERA". A Survey Of Kerala History. DC Books, Kottayam. pp. 104–110. ISBN 81-264-1578-9. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- "Kollam - Short History". Statistical Data. kerala.gov.in. Archived from the original (Short History) on 2007-11-21. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Kerala government website Archived 2007-11-21 at the Wayback Machine.
- In the Travancore State Manual, Ch:XIII, pages 49-50, by Sri. T.K. Velu Pillai according to keralainfoservice
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