Whats a “New Year” – And Why Do Some Hindus Say It’s Now?

Diwali lamps
Lights of Dipavali - Part of the New Years Celebration

If there is anything I really want you to learn from this article knowing, it’s this: time is a circle, not a line.

Clocks are round. The Earth is round. It spins around to create days. Orbits are round, too. The Moon’s circular orbit creates Months, and the Sun’s (or Earth’s depending on your point of reference) creates years. The circular, cyclical movements of the Sun, Moon and Stars are the foundation of how human beings calculate time.

So, time is a circle.

Where does a circle “start” or “end”? It’s easy to say where a line starts and ends, but how do you do it for a circle? You can’t. Or you just pick a point you like and call it the start and end point of a circle.

So what’s a “new year”? For that matter when is a “new month”? Or a “new day”? Some say the day starts at midnight, others say it starts at sunrise, others say it starts whenever they wake up. A day is a circle, a cycle. Whatever point you want to pick on that circle to call the “start” – go for it. Of course some points are more reasonable than others.

A “new month” is also arbitrary. Some calendars say the month begins on a new moon – like in Southern India. Others say it begins on a full moon – like Northern India. Others – like the calendars you get in the book stores – just pick almost arbitrary dates. There is no absolute right answer because a month is a cycle, a circle – one complete circle of the Moon around the earth / zodiac. You can pick a point and call it the “start” but there is no real start to an eternal cycle. Some calendars are more reasonable than others, but none of them are intrinsically “right” or “wrong.”

Back to talking about a year. From an astronomer’s perspective it is one complete circle of the Earth around the Sun. From an astrologer’s perspective it is one complete circle of the Sun through the Zodiac. When does the circle of a year “begin”? Never, but for the sake of counting and orienting ourselves in the eternal flow of time, we pick a point and call it the “beginning of a new year.” You can pick any point you want. Some pick the point where the Sun stops moving southward and leaves winter solstice. Some pick convenient dates near that time. Others pick other dates. Again some are more reasonable than others, but none of them are really the beginning of an eternal cycle.

Many people in India – not all, but many – pick right now: when the New Moon in the middle of “Kartika” month (if you use a northern Indian calendar. It’s the beginning of Kartika if you go by the southern Indian calendar).

Mainly they pick this day to start the year because it is a very auspicious time. There are many auspicious holidays and events being commemorated on this day – so to make the new year auspicious they decided to start it under the good fortunate of these celebrations and commemorations.

Here are the key events celebrated and commemorated at this time of year – most from extremely ancient aeons:

  • The demon Bali, who took control of the whole universe under the expert guidance of Venus, was gracefully and wondrously defeated on behalf of the gods by Vishnu who took the form of a cute little boy/dwarf but reclaimed the entire cosmos in three cosmic steps.
  • Vishnu in the form of the great king Rama returned home to his kingdom after 14 years of exile.
  • Vishnu as Krishna inaugurated a ceremony which provoked the wrath of Indra, the king of the gods. He then protected his village against the cataclysmic storms and floods sent by Indra – humbling the egotistical god.
  • The Pandavas (important friends of Krishna) returned to their kingdom after 12 years of exile.
  • Krishna and his wife Satyabhama killed the chaotic demon Naraka.
  • Vishnu empowered King Prithu to milk the Earth in the form of a cow and thus restore the ecosystem.
  • Vishnu in the form of Dhanvantari appeared and founded the science of medicine.

Hey, let’s get into the spirit of things! “Happy New Year!!!” Jai Sri Krishna!

Astrological Reasoning for this day as a “New Year Day”

A very reasonable date for the new year is around Christmas / Winter Solstice – because this is the day the Sun ceases it’s weakening and begins getting stronger – it is like rebirth. In the Indian system this is also a type of New Year – celebrated as “Makara Sankranti” the “Uttarayana” (Although it is erroneously calculated by the majority of current Indian astrologers without tropical reference, but that is another story).

Following a similar logic it is very reasonable to count todays new Moon, the New Moon which occurs in sidereal Libra, as the beginning of a new year. Libra is the Sun’s debilitation, and the opposite point, Aries is its exaltation. So after this New Moon, the Sun ceases moving further and further into debilitation and begins moving closer and closer to exaltation – a type of rebirth, a new year.

Vic DiCara