The 14th of April is celebrated as the New Year in a few states of India such as Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Bengal, Assam among others.
The astronomical reason for the same being, that when the calendar in these places were formed over 1500 years back, the sun in its annual transit would cross the equator on this date. It was the equinox, the sun being on the equator and crossing over to the northern hemisphere.
It is for this reason that the New Year was celebrated not only in different parts of India, but in Persia too, as Nowroz and also in different parts of Europe in the pre-medieval days.
So April was the time for the start of a New Year across the world in the Northern Hemisphere. This New Year celebration was based on the movement of the sun. This shows that the people then lived in consonance with nature.
During the dark ages, as Christianity established itself in Europe, the New Year was shifted from April 1st to January 1st. The new Gregorian calendar of 1582 cemented this shift.
When this happened, people were coerced to shift the observation of New Year from April 1st to January 1st. The pagans in the villages though, continued to celebrate April 1st as their New Year in accordance with nature and the transit of the sun.
Since the official New Year was shifted to January 1st, the people who continued to celebrate April 1st as New Year were called “fools” and thus came the derisive terminology of “April fool”. It is from this word of villagers we have the root of the word ‘villain’. Since the villagers took time to change to the official ways and calendar from their nature-based ways, they were dubbed derogatorily as ‘villains’, ’village’ and ’villager’.
Over the last few decades, the world is not only becoming more and more scientific, but is also becoming more and more connected.
Between the 1600s to 2000, the world was Euro-centric.
Now, with progress, different parts of the world are bringing forth their individual character. In this journey, maintaining one’s own individual character yet, at the same time being connected with each other, while being collectively connected with Nature, is the vehicle that can take us collectively into the future.
If this is to be so, then, we need to take a relook at our connectivity with Mother Nature.
Then, for the people living in the Northern Hemisphere, who comprise over 70% of the land mass and population of the earth, the natural New Year has to be the Equinox of March 21st when the Sun transits North, crossing the equator.
This thought is neither radical nor new.
After independence, India formed many scientific committees to understand various aspects of India. One such committee formed then was the Calendar reforms committee. This committee in the year 1957 recommended that the Indian calendar should start from March 22nd.
Calendar represents an important aspect of a civilization’s culture. It is basically a time marker of events, events that are important to and determine each civilization’s culture and history.
As the world , of which we are all a part, rotates and revolves, creating days and nights that rollup into months and years, giving us the notion of the passage of time, we need to go closer and closer towards Nature and the cosmos, to understand the concept and true meaning of Time.
In that path, taking a relook at the calendar is but one early and small step.
While the New Year in the calendar of the modern world starts on 1st January, the Commercial Calendar starts on 1st April and ends on 31st March.
This probably is so because in days of yore, the calendar of different civilizations started with the Vernal Equinox which occurred around early April.
Vernal Equinox – Sun’s rays falling parallel to the earth’s Equator, Equal Day and Equal Night
The traders of the world, continuing their tradition, have therefore been using April 1st as the start date for their Commercial Calendar which has continued to this date.
Time to take stock
The end of the previous Commercial Calendar and the start of the next year, is the time that we take stock of all our dealings. This is commonly known as the stock taking period. It is the time to take stock as we transition from one year to another, to carry forward what is needed for the next year, our future.
The traders take stock of their goods.
Similarly, in our personal lives too, there is need for a time, when each of us can take stock of our personal lives. Take stock of the situation, events and progress around us. Take stock of where we stand and where we are heading and at the end of our personal stock taking, discard unnecessary baggage and carry forward only what is of relevance to bring prosperity and happiness unto oneself and others.
So, this transition period is a period of taking stock of oneself, one’s situation and one’s environment.
Transition – Sandhi
India, through the ages has given a great deal of significance to the concept of transition and the transition phase.
The concept of transition from one stage to another, is known as Sandhi in the Indian thought.
the daily transition of thithi, day to night and day,
to the transition of paksha, lunar fortnights from waxing to waning to waxing,
to the transition of rtu, seasons,
to the transition of varsha, year,
to the transition of yuga, time cycles,
these transitions have all been continuously tracked, recorded, revered and observed by our ancestors all the way from 8000 years ago to the present generation of Indians even to this day.
Transition, Sandhi period
Transitions periods were cherished as poignant moments in space and time to take stock of one’s personal life vis-à-vis the space, time, environs and society, i.e entire Nature, around us and adjust our behaviour, attitude and approach to life thereon.
The concept of Sandhi, how it has was revered and celebrated, has been discussed in good detail in our latest book “2012-The Real Story”, which is part of the Bharath Gyan series.
When we talk of taking stock, there are various happenings and shifts that we need to take stock of.
The world in the last couple of hundred years has been going through a commercial era. It has also gone through a phase of colonization and fight for independence by many lands. The colonization and commercialization era led to the overbearing thought and practice of centralization of power and a centralized economic model therefore.
As the world steps out of the shadow of colonialism, it sees itself in a new light. While the world seems to be more connected, the increasing interdependency across lands, even for basic needs, which erodes into each nation’s economic insulation and quickly leads the entire world into waves of depression or boom, has started to cause concern.
As the world is slowly getting over the hangover of colonialism and its offshoot, the concept of centralization, we see more and more cases of fragmentation occurring, the world over.
We have seen colonialism itself breaking down with the independence movements in the various colonies, giving rise to independent nations.
We have seen large confederations such as USSR breaking up into constituent smaller nations.
We have seen larger states in India breaking up into smaller states.
We keep continually seeing demands, world over, by groups wanting their own state or nation inorder to govern themselves.
While many of these have taken the extreme shape of violent uprisings, most are an expression of the people’s innate desire to be free of hegemony and control.
It is an expression of their innate desire to control themselves.
It is an expression of their wanting their primary localized needs to be met by local production, local supply and local economies, over which they can have local control. Basically, call for a local administration for deploying available funds, for generating more funds, produce and services, to meet the local requirements with local priorities and local relevance.
Fundamentally, a more decentralized model.
When these cries are not listened to and instead suppressed, through usage of power or politics, it leads to violent uprisings.
If instead, this innate desire is steered in the right direction of a healthy, decentralized model of administration with a centralized oversight to keep them united, networked and interconnected through basic resource sharing and cultural bonds, it can lead to seeing prosperity and harmony.
Through many millennia too, people in many parts of the world, had enjoyed their respective, sustained prosperity for successive generations, mainly due to the practice of such a healthy, decentralized model.
It is just not a preferred, but a natural model for the coming age too. We discuss about this model in good detail in our book ‘You turn India’.
Isms of past
In the process of colonization and commercialization, the world went though many “isms”, successively one after the other and at times, concurrently too. Some of the prominent ones being, colonialism, capitalism, communism, socialism, mixed economy model is also an ism, so on and so forth.
In all these “isms” of economic models, the practices, the ideas that got marginalized were the crucial practices of sustainability with relevance and reverence to Nature, value for human life and human endeavour.
These words and the thought these words represent, are now slowly coming back in the discussions of economic models.
Most ancient civilizations which had their times of glory, were glorious because they focused on the model of sustainability with relevance to Nature and reverence for the humans who toiled in it.
Let us pause, think, take stock of the past and position ourselves for the future.
Let us ready ourselves to be part of the process to usher in a new era in the world for, in a way, we are in a Sandhi.
We can see that changes in many ways, are imminent. We can see that we are in the threshold of a new era – an era where old age mantras, come back as new age coinages.
Going forth, let us look forward to a harmonious, sustainable, interconnected future, through a new decentralized, economic and administration model based on humanism where humans, along with all other components of Nature, live in a harmonious, sustainable way.