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.