How to Read Tamil Vakya Panchangam – Part 2

If you haven’t checked the first part of “How to use Vakya Panchangam” that’s discussed here, please do check them. We’ve covered many aspects ranging from ‘basic panchangam reading’ to ‘tithi end time calculation stuffs’. Now, lets continue with the 4th Column explanation in the vakya panchagam.

tithi vaara nakshatra yogam karanam shraddha tithi yogini
Shraddha tithi – Column 4 :

Many of you will have this question; How to find the Shraddha tithi or Shradh date? And, before we find that, there are some who might be interested to learn all the technicalities involved in deciding a śrāddha tithi in detail. For them, we’ll do it exclusively in a separate post. Because, mostly, the general audience is curious just to get the right shrāddha date alone when they want to do a shrāddha ritual. So, for them, our panchāngam itself is more than suffice that hides all the complexities and gives us the date straight-away.

What is Shraddham or why do we do Shradh?

Now, We’ll have a very quick check on what’s this shrāddha ritual is all about and when are all the occasions people want to do that ritual. Knowing this might help many of those who aren’t aware of the importance of shrāddha until now and will get motivated to do them, for the benefits are really great.

So, In many foreign belief systems, ancestral worship is more of a love and respect towards their deceased ancestors more than ritualistic. Year on year, its an occasion to remember their deceased parents and cherish their memories, which is very nice. And in our tradition, it’s little more than just love and respect. Our ancestors referred to as Pitrs, actually do live in another world called Pitr Loka. Just like how we used to take care of our parents when they were alive, in the same way, it’s our duty and dharma to look after their well-being after they leave their mortal body and get to the other world. This part of our responsibility is fulfilled only through the ritual called Pitru karmas or shrāddha in particular. Mainly by way of feeding the Brahmanas with food and valuable articles, also offering pinda, water and sesame seeds, etc during the ritual, we provide food to the Pitrs. Being satisfied with our lovable worship and offerings, they bless us.

Did you know?

It has been declared in the Shastras that among the many acts, doing which man attains the best things in the world, shrāddha comes first. In fact, the Pitrs have more power and command on us than even the gods when it comes to granting our prayers. That’s the reason why even in the most festive occasions like marriages, before performing main rituals related to the wedding, a type of shrāddha called vruddhi or nāndi shrāddha – The Ancestral Worship that is done to get the Pitrs blessings first, as they are the foremost in blessings us with prosperity.

        And, This shrāddham ritual is always done with utmost faith and devotion (shrāddha & bhakti) in this country. That’s the reason why the ritual is even called shrāddham, which is derived from the word shrāddha(Faith).

Generally, when should we do Shraddhams?

Worshipping ancestors when visiting a pilgrim or doing it on a daily basis is very commendable, though practically its not happening that way. But, there are the famous 96 occasions to perform shrāddham called ‘shannavati‘, which includes Sun’s transit or shankarānti, new moon days or Amāvasya, Mahālaya paksha, etc, and also there are other rare occasions like eclipses called Grahanam, Ardhodaya and Mahodaya, etc that brings immense merit, Punya, when shrāddham is performed during that time.

Among all the occasions to perform shrāddha that’s mentioned above and also few more that’s not mentioned in the list, the yearly once shrāddham that falls on the same month, moon’s phase and tithi every year with that of the parent’s death date called Pratyābdikam, is the most important of them all that should never be missed at any cost.

Now, How to check the shraddha date?

To find the annual shrāddha tithi or date, you first need 3 things even before checking panchāngam for the shrāddha date. First you need the Mrita tithi, Paksha and Māsa of the person to whom you want to perform the shrāddha ritual. In most cases you should already by knowing it. But, if you don’t know it for some reason, you should be knowing the exact Death date and time of that person according to the english calendar. Now, find out what tamizh month, paksha and tithi is given against that date in the death year’s panchāgam if you have one. If you don’t have that year’s panchāgam or not sure about the data arrived, better consult your family prohit with the death date and time details. Once you have these 3 data, that is, the death tithi, paksha and māsa, you can easily check them in the current year’s panchāgam.

It is mainly to find this particular date that majority of the people may want to take the help of the vākya panchāngam.

Because, though it is such a simple thing to learn, not knowing where to look in the panchāgam, people get confused.

Usually, the situation starts like this. A person wants to do the yearly Pratyābdikam shrāddham to his father. Curiously he takes the panchāngam to check the date. Lets consider an example. Suppose, Māsi valarpirai dwādashi is the tithi on which he has to perform the year on year Pratyābdikam Shrāddha. As usual in the year 2018 also, to perform shrāddha he checks the panchāgam. On the 12th column where one finds tithi, vāra, nakshatrā etc, it says sukla paksha dwādshi tithi for the tamil month Māsi falls on Feb 27th and its a Tuesday. So to confirm the date he calls his ‘Aatthu vādhyār’, family priest. But to his surprise, the priest says the shrāddha date is Feb 26th which is on Monday and not Feb 27th Tuesday.

That’s because, instead of checking the 12th column, he should check the 4th column – shrāddha tithi. It’s so simple and straight forward. That’s how the priest would have finalised the date. Similar to this, there are many variety of cases where people get confused when finding the shrāddha date. One such case which occurs more often is when one finds the same tithi on two dates back to back; Say, saptami tithi that falls both on march 8th and 9th. To decide the shrāddha tithi, check the 4th column. That’s it. Check the picture below for reference with 2 different examples.

explains how to find shraddha tithi using vakya panchangam

On What Basis Shraddha tithi is decided for a day?

So, now the question is, how did they arrive at this shrāddha tithi calculation logic.? i.e., on what basis the tithi in the 12th column and the shrāddha tithi in the 4th column differs?

That’s because, on a particular day, whichever tithi occupies the maximum time duration between 1:12pm to 3:36pm, that tithi takes the place in 4th column as Shrāddha tithi for that day. Wondering the magic time slot 1:12pm to 3:36pm ??? Don’t worry, we’ll get there in a moment.

Before that, a small background about this time slot. In the vedas it is said, the morning part of the day belongs to the Gods, the noon belongs to the Man, and the afternoon belongs to the Pitrs, Ancestors. Because, that’s the time when they all eat. So, worship the Gods in the morning and the Pitrs in the afternoon is the logic.

And, the word ahaH or ahan means ‘a day’ in Sanskrit. The words pūrva, apara and Madhya means before, after, and middle. When these words are added with ‘ahnam’, we get pūrvahnam, madhyahnam and aparahnam, which are the time slot allotted to the Deva, Manushya and Pitrs respectively. Now we know from where the word madhyanam in Tamizh comes from 😎 .

Ok now, the Technical part. According to Veda Vyasa Maharishi, who divided the one Veda into 4 parts, also divided the day time into 5 equal parts. Each part roughly takes 2:24mins. The 4th part of the daytime so divided is what is called “aparāhṇa kāla” which is from 1:12pm to 3:36pm. This time slot is true if only you take the sunrise to be at 6:00am. For a different sunrise time, add this 2:24mins from that new sunrise time, and arrive at the 4th time-slot (aparāhṇa kāla). That’s it. For further info, please refer the Animated Picture below.


So to conclude, a day can have more than one tithi. For shrāddham, the tithi that occupies the maximum time of aparahnam kaala is what is to be considered. Its not that simple to pick the shrāddha tithi for all cases, since there are many other technicalities involved in it. Lets set aside all that for now which may be we can discuss it later. For now, just the panchāgam is more than suffice.

In most cases, even those who are very staunch ritualists, will check only the shrāddha tithi column in the panchāgam for all the occasions like amavasya, Mahalaya paksha etc when they want to perform shrāddham. May all of us perform the ritual with shrāddha and bhakti when the occasion arises and get the blessings of our ancestors and attain sreyas. Om.

To Be Continued …