Last update: 10-Dec-2013 1:42 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Calculating Hindu Festivals
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year and contains no intercalation, Ramadan migrates throughout the seasons.
Many Muslims insist on the local physical sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of Ramadan, but others use the calculated time of the new moon or the Saudi Arabian declaration to determine the start of the month. Since the new moon is not in the same state at the same time globally, the beginning and ending dates of Ramadan depend on what lunar sightings are received in each respective location.
As a result, Ramadan dates vary in different countries, but usually only by a day. This is due to the cycle of the moon. When one country sees the moon, mainly Saudi Arabia, the moon travels the same path all year round and that same moon seen in the east is then seen travelling towards the west. All the countries around the world see the moon within a 24-hour period once spotted by one country in the east.
Therefore, the use of lunar considerations to determine religious observances is a common thread throughout the three main religions of the world—Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Another factor considered is a basic difference between the English date and the Hindu date. The English date and the day (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday etc) change at midnight, whereas the Hindu date (tithi) changes at the sunrise. The Hindu day lasts from one sunrise to another.
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