Malayalam calendar

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Mampalli copper plate (10th century AD) - earliest record to mention the Kollam Era.

Malayalam Calendar or Kollam Era is a solar and sidereal calendar used in Kerala. The origin of the calendar has been dated to 825 CE.[1][2][3]

There are many theories regarding the origin of the era, but according to recent scholarship, it commemorated the foundation of Kollam after the liberation of the region (known as Venadu) from the Pandya rule by or with the assistance of the Chera king at Kodungallur.[4] The earliest record mentioning Kollam Era is a royal order by Sri Vallava Goda, the chieftain of Venadu, dated to c. 973 CE (Kollam Era 149). In the inscription the phrase "Kollam Tontri Andu" is employed.[5] Kollam Era initially remained a local era in the port of Kollam alone and perhaps in the whole chiefdom of Venadu. Later it spread throughout Kerala and came to be known as the Malayalam Era.[5]

Another era referred to as "Kollam Azhinta Andu", counting from 1097 CE, was reckoned by the Pandyas for some time. It is tentatively calculated that the Pandya kings, under the sanction of their Chola overlords, captured the port of Kollam in 1097 CE.[5]


There are multiple conflicting accounts regarding the origins of the Malayalam calendar,[6] some of which are mentioned below:

  • The Kollam era is attributed to the legend of the hero Paraśurāma, an avatar (incarnation) of the god Vishnu. It is sometimes divided into cycles of 1,000 years reckoned from 1176 BCE. Thus, 825 CE would have been the first year of the era's third millennium.[7]
  • The news of the physical disappearance of Sri Adi Shankaracharya in 820 CE at Kedarnath reached Kerala only a few years later. It is believed that Kerala began the Malayalam era, also called the Kollam era, in 825 CE in his memory.[8][9][10]
  • The origin of Kollam Era has been dated to 825 CE, 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.
  • 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.[11][12]
  • It is believed that the era was started by the Syrian Christian saints Mar Sabor and Mar Proth who settled in Korukeni, Kollam, near to the present Kollam.[11][13][14]
  • It is also believed that the era started as part of erection of Thirupalkadal Sreekrishnaswamy Temple, family temple of Venad located at Keezhperoor or Kil-perur. Keezhperoor is place located near Kilimanoor which is used as prefix along with name of Venad and Travancore monarchs and is believed to be the maternal home of Kulasekhara Alvar.


The Malayalam months follows the Sanskritic Sauramāsa (solar month) naming convention. Thus, Chingam is named after the corresponding Sanskrit solar month, the Simham, and so on. This is unlike the case in Tulu calendar which follow the names of lunar months. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar:

Comparative table showing corresponding months of other calendars
No. Months in Malayalam Era In Malayalam Sanskrit solar month Gregorian Calendar Tulu calendar Tamil calendar Saka era Sign of zodiac
1. Chingam ചിങ്ങം Siṃha August–September Sona Aavani ŚravanaBhādrapada Leo
2. Kanni കന്നി Kanyā September–October Nirnaala Purattasi BhādrapadaAśvina Virgo
3. Thulam തുലാം Tulā October–November Bonthyel Aippasi AśvinaKārtika Libra
4. Vrishchikam വൃശ്ചികം Vṛścik‌‌‌am November–December Jaarde Karthigai KārtikaMārgaśīrṣa Scorpio
5. Dhanu ധനു Dhanu December–January Peraarde Margazhi MārgaśīrṣaPauṣa Sagittarius
6. Makaram മകരം Makara January–February Ponny Thai PauṣaMāgha Capricorn
7. Kumbham കുംഭം Kumbha February–March Maayi Maasi MāghaPhālguna Aquarius
8. Meenam മീനം Mīna March–April Suggy Panguni PhālgunaChaitra Pisces
9. Meṭam മേടം Meṣa April–May Paggu Chithirai ChaitraVaiśākha Aries
10. Eṭavam ഇടവം Vṛṣabha May–June Besa Vaikasi VaiśākhaJyaiṣṭha Taurus
11. Mithunam മിഥുനം Mithuna June–July Kaarthel Aani JyaiṣṭhaĀṣāḍha Gemini
12. Karkaṭakam കർക്കടകം Karkaṭaka July–August Aaty Aadi Āṣāḍha–Śrāvaṇa Cancer


The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Aazhcha (ആഴ്ച), meaning week.

Comparative table showing corresponding weekdays
No. Malayalam മലയാളം Sanskrit English Kannada Tamil Hindi Arabic Punjabi
1. Njayar ഞായർ Bhānu vāsara Sunday Bhanuvara Nyaayiru (ஞாயிறு) Ravivaar/Itvaar


al-aḥad Ravivaar/Aitvaar (ਰਵਿਵਾਰ/ਐਤਵਾਰ)
2. Thinkal തിങ്കൾ Soma vāsara Monday Somavara Thingal (திங்கள்) Somvaar


al-ithnayn Somvaar


3. Chowva ചൊവ്വ Maṅgala vāsara Tuesday Mangalavara Chevvai (செவ்வாய்) Mangalvaar


al-thalāthāʾ Mangalvaar (ਮੰਗਲਵਾਰ)
4. Budhan ബുധൻ Budha vāsara Wednesday Budhavara Budhan (புதன்) Budhvaar


al-arbaʿā Budhvaar


5. Vyazham വ്യാഴം Guru vāsara Thursday Guruvara Vyazhan (வியாழன்) Guruvaar/Brihaspativaar


al-khamīs Guruvaar/Veervaar (ਗੁਰੂਵਾਰ/ਵੀਰਵਾਰ)
6. Velli വെള്ളി Śukra vāsara Friday Shukravara Velli (வெள்ளி) Shukravaar


al-jumuʿah Shukarvaar


7. Shani ശനി Śani vāsara Saturday Shanivara Shani (சனி) Shanivaar


al-sabt Shanivaar


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.

Significant dates[edit]

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. Vishu is celebrated as the traditional new year particularly in erstwhile malabar and south canara areas, as it is astronomically significant 'Medam' being the first among the twelve Rashis (corresponding to months 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 Karkaṭakam 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.)

Chaitram 1 (usually coinciding with March 20) or Metam 1 (mostly coinciding with April 14, for 2019 it was on April 15th), both in the proximity of the date of the vernal equinox (March 21), mark the beginning of the new year in many traditional Indian calendars such as the Indian National calendar and the Tamil calendar. When the Government of Kerala adopted Kolla Varsham as the regional calendar, the 1st of Chingam, the month of the festival of Onam, was accepted as the Malayalam New Year instead.[citation needed]

Derived names[edit]

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 1 June is known as Etavappathi, meaning mid of month 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kollam Era" (PDF). Indian Journal History of Science. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  2. ^ Broughton Richmond (1956), Time measurement and calendar construction, p. 218
  3. ^ R. Leela Devi (1986). History of Kerala. Vidyarthi Mithram Press & Book Depot. p. 408.
  4. ^ Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014. 89.
  5. ^ a b c Narayanan, M. G. S. Perumāḷs of Kerala. Thrissur (Kerala): CosmoBooks, 2013. 74-76, 143.
  6. ^ "The Kollam Calendar Mystery – A discussion".
  7. ^ "Chronology".
  8. ^ Kalady: The Triumph of Faith Over Time. Dir. Rajesh Krishnan, K. Anand, and S. Thyagarajan. Sri Shankara Advaita Research Center, Sringeri, May 31, 2010. DVD.
  9. ^ sharadapeetham (25 April 2012). "Kalady: The Triumph of Faith Over Time (Rediscovery of Sri Adi Shankaracharya's Birth Place)" – via YouTube.
  10. ^ K. V. Sarma, Kollam Era, Indian Journal of History of Science, 31(1), 1996, pp. 93-100
  11. ^ a b A. Sreedhara Menon (2007) [1967]. "CHAPTER VIII - THE KOLLAM ERA". A Survey Of Kerala History. DC Books, Kottayam. pp. 104–110. ISBN 978-81-264-1578-6. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Kollam - Short History". Statistical Data. Archived from the original (Short History) on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  13. ^ Kerala government website Archived 2007-11-21 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ In the Travancore State Manual, Ch:XIII, pages 49-50, by Sri. T.K. Velu Pillai according to keralainfoservice

External links[edit]