Tithi (Lunar day) has high significance in Indian chronology. However, due to the current widespread usage of Gregorian (European) chronology, the usage of Indian tithi is only limited to religious rituals and it is not used for any day-to-day worldly tasks. This article explains the importance of tithi and the method of determining the lunar birth date of an individual.
1. What is meant by tithi ?
On the new moon day, the sun and the moon are in the same direction (one below the other), as seen from the earth. Thereafter, due to its faster speed, the moon starts traversing towards the east direction ahead of the sun. In this way when the distance between the moon and the sun becomes 12 degrees, then it is said that 1 lunar day has elapsed (1 tithi). When the distance becomes 24 degrees then 2 tithis get completed. In this way, 30 tithis are completed by the next new moon day.
2. Reason behind tithi being given importance in Hindu Dharma
In the Indian horology, month is determined by the movement of the moon. Month is either measured by the one ending on a new moon day or the one ending on a full moon day. Most of our festivals, advent dates of Deities etc. are celebrated as per the lunar calendar i.e., as per the tithi. The reason behind this is that the effect of the sun is mostly on the gross creation or the gross body, whereas the moon affects the subtle creation or subtle body (mind). Subtle energy is more effective than gross energy. Also, mental strength is more important compared to physical strength. On the full moon and new moon day, the sun and the moon have a combined effect on the earth. Hence, in Hindu Dharma, lunar day is given importance as compared to the date.
3. Importance of birth tithi (lunar birthdate)
The lunar day at the time an individual’s birth is termed as birth tithi. The specific lunar month, tithi and nakshatra (Lunar asterism) always coexist. E.g., on full moon day of lunar month of Margashirsha, the moon is in Mruga nakshatra or a nearby nakshatra. The tithi and nakshatra at the time of birth of an individual affects the mind of the individual thereby shaping their personality.
By celebrating birthday on the birth tithi as prescribed by Hindu Dharma and by performing acts such as aukshan (Ritual of waving a lit lamp in front of an individual), reciting shlokas, obtaining blessings from elders, the sattvikta of the individual’s subtle body (mind) increases. On the contrary, by celebrating birthday as per the Gregorian date of birth, only the gross body gets somewhat benefited. Celebrating one’s birthday as per western culture by blowing off candles and by cutting cakea does not reap any spiritual benefit.
4. Tithi at the time of birth is the birth tithi of the individual
The regional calendar we refer to for our day-to-day use mentions the tithi corresponding to each date. This is the tithi which occurs at the time of sunrise on that date. However, it is not essential that the tithi that falls during the sunrise will remain throughout that day. Therefore, when deciding the birth tithi, one should consider the birth tithi prevalent at the time of the birth of an infant. For e.g., if ‘navami’ tithi exists till 1 pm on a particular day and a baby’s birth occurs after 1 pm on that day, then its birth tithi becomes ‘dashami’. The time of the day when a particular tithi ends is given in the almanac of the particular year or on the obverse pages of the calendar.
If there are any doubts regarding one’s birth tithi, one can consult an astrologer and get one’s birth tithi confirmed.
– Shri Raj Karve, Jyotish Visharad, Goa (26.11.2022)
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