Time and Space

Time

Time is a well known subject for everyone in the world. Time is something that never comes back. You played and had fun, now that time is gone. You will never see it again. Every time when you have fun you would think time went fast, and when you are waiting someone you would think the time went slow. When you are young, you want to be little older and when you are old you don’t want to be older. But, you can’t.

The time never goes fast or slow. Time has a limit of speed.

In this section we will talk about measurement of time and timekeeping in Nepal and also the calendar used in Nepal. When religious ceremonies are organized or any important work is initiated, Nepalese base the decisions using lunar calendar. Nepalese people use lunar calendar to know when is going to be the day they celebrate a specific occasion.

Bikram Sambat, the most widely used calendar system in Nepal, is different than the calendar known in the Western world. Amongthe calendars used in Nepal, You will find the history of Nepalese time keeping and calendar in this section. You will learn about Nepalese time scales and techniques used to measure the time. You will learn about units like year, month, week, day, ghadi and pala. You will learn about 15 day cycles of Suklapakshya and Krishnapakshya developed after lunar cycles and the significance of each day in this cyclic calendar and how they are correlated with all the festivals, celebrations, and important days for conducting specific businesses are decided. You will also learn about the relationship of time with the jodiac signs and your horoscopic domains.

Time Measurement

Numbers

Hindus were the inventors of decimal numbering system used around the world today. They made numbers to follow a pattern that revolves around the number 10. They used 10 numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 as the basic units and built all larger numbers from these numbers as we know them. That is how the larger and larger units are defined when the number increases by 10 fold. The numbers 1, 10, 100, 1000, 10000, 100000 and so on have their unique names.

Units of Time measurement

The most used unit of time and most easy unit of time that everyone understands is a day. This unit was developed by the natural world and the humans simply follow them around the world. A year is another unit that people use but is also dictated by the natural world. Many other units known to human are developed by human for convenience. In this section we talk about unit of time used in Nepal for the last three thousand years:

Basic Units

 

  1. Din (दिन, day): This is the time that covers the time from one sunrise to the next sunrise. In old Hindu tradition followed in Nepal, the 0th hour started at the time of sunrise.
  2. Hapta (हप्ता, Week): Seven days constitute a Hapta in Nepal. These seven days were dedicated after 7 planets known to people of those days. They thought that the earth is the centre of the world. They also thought that Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn revolve around the earth. They dedicated one day each to this heavenly objects and named the days after that.
    1. Rabi-bar (रबी-बार, Sun-day): This is the first day of the week and also the first day of work in all businesses.
    2. Soma-bar (सोम-बार, Moon-day): This is the day of the moon and second day of the week.
    3. Mangal-bar (मंगल-बार, Mars-day): The day of the Mars, the cool planet. It is considered that things that begin on this day would be most likely to end up with successful conclusions.
    4. Budha-bar (बुध-बार, Mercury-day): The day of the Mercury.
    5. Brihaspati-bar (ब्रिहस्पति-बार, Jupitar-day): The day of the Jupitar. The name Brihaspati signifies the enormity of the size of this planet.
    6. Shukra-bar (शुक्र-बार, Venus-day): This is the day of the planet Venus and the last day of initiating any good endeavour.
    7. Sani-bar (शनि-बार, Saturn-day): The last day of the week is dedicated to Saturn and is considered to be the most inauspicious day to initiate any new work. Only already initiated works are either continued or wound down on this day. All offices are closed on this day.
  3. Mahina (महिना, month): This is the time that spans approximately two phases of moon. These two phases are called Sukla Pakshya (शुक्ल पक्ष, Bright Phase, Waxing Moon Phase) and Krishna Pakshya (क्रिष्ण पक्ष, Dark Phase, Waning Moon Phase).
    Shuklapakshya (शुक्लपक्ष, Bright Phase): The first lunar phase covers from the night of new moon (शुक्ल प्रतिपदा or Amavashya) to the night of Purnima (पुर्णिमा, Full Moon). During this time the intensity of brightness or the size of the bright section of the moon grows. On the first day, the moon is visible in the Western sky at the time of sunset with a tiny crescent and disappears shortly. Gradually the crescent grows bigger and bigger till the 15th night. This night is called the night of Purnima (पुर्णिमा, Full Moon).
    Krishna Pakshya (क्रिष्ण पक्ष, Dark Phase): The second lunar phase covers from the night next to the day of full moon (क्रिष्ण प्रतिपदा Amavashya) to the night of Aunshi (औँशी, No Moon). During this time the intensity of brightness or the size of the bright section of the moon diminishes. On the first evening, the moon is visible in the Eastern sky sometimes after the sunset with less than full circle and continues through the night. Gradually in the subsequent nights more of the moon-circle gets eaten away by the darkness and the moon appears later in the evening. On the fifteenth night, the day of Aunshi (औँशी, No Moon), no moon will be seen in the night sky.
    People in Nepal treat Lunar phases with great significance. They launch all new adventures or projects only in the Shukla (Waxing) phase. In the Krishna (Waning) phase, they only complete and wind down already initiated projects and ventures. According to Hindu calendar, lunar month begins with amavasya meaning new moon. Amavasya consists of bright forthnight signifying auspicious forthnight and dark forthnight signifying inauspicious forthnight.
  4. Barsha (बर्ष, Year): This is period is approximately 365 days long. It spans 12 months. Vikram Sambat, used in Nepal, is one of the oldest living calendars in the world. Decmber 2006 of English calendar falls on year 2063 of Vikram Sambat.

Smaller Units

Taking a day as the basic unit, all other units were derived by dividing this unit into multiples of 60. But then one may ask, “Why everything needed to be in the multiple of 60?”

Possible reason behind choosing 60 units is in the origin of the number system itself. The number 60 is the small enough number comprehensible by a common literate person of those days and divisible by most of the numbers of the elementary decimal numbers. Among all the numbers from 1 to 10, the number 60 is fully divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10, and only 7, 8 and 9 are the exceptions. Because of this great divisibility, it would have been the most preferable number for the intellectuals of the day. If they did not choose 60 and wanted a number divisible all ten numbers, they would have ended up with 2520 – too large a number for a common person to use in a daily basis.

  1. Ghadi (घडी, Hour): A day in a Nepali calendar is divided into 60 Ghadis (hours). There are 60 Ghadis between one subset to the next sunset.
  2. Pala (पला, Minute): A Ghadi is divided into 60 Palas (minutes). One Pala in Nepal is a bit smaller than a regular minute that we measure it today.
  3. Unapala (ऊनपला, Second): A Pala is further divided into 60 units of Unapalas (sub-palas). One Unapala is more than one-thirs of the regular second. One Unapala is about 6 blinks of an eye.

Bigger Units

  1. Dasabdi (दसाब्दि, Decade): Ten Barsha (year) make up a Dasabdi or a decade.
  2. Satabdi (सताब्दि,Century): Ten Dasabdis (decades) or hundred Barsha (years) make a Satabdi (century).
  3. Yug (युग, Age): Yug is a large window of time where society morphs from one system of social fabric and system of governance to another. They name thaem Satya, Dwapar, Treta, and Kali Yugs to describe the time until now. It is said that we are in a Kali yug.

Techniques for Measuring Time

Large time frames are measured in Nepal by following days, nights, cycles of sun and moon. Smaller time frames are estimated by looking at the position of sun, moon, stars and planets. In specific localities people used the distance of these objects in reference to specific points in the mountains. They used specific kinds of plants and their behavior with respect to light to detect time in the cloudy days.

For fine grained time measurement, they use a water based device called Ghada. This looks like a simple hang-able pot which can be filled with water and it has one to five holes on the bottom. The holes are calibrated such that when the pot is filled and let it naturally drip, it will empty exactly in one Ghadi and when it is filled and emptied for 60 times it will represent 24 hours in modern clocks.

Space

Now let’s talk about space and universe. Scientists are still trying to find out more things about universe. Some people say there are aliens some people say there are no aliens but no one know the truth about it. There is one thing I don’t understand is how could we be civilized if our ancestors were monkeys. I think, to develop our brain, it would take lots of time. I think our ancestors came from different planet. That’s what I think. There are more than 1 thousand galaxies in universe. We live in Milky Way galaxy.

Now let’s talk about how moon became. Some scientists think that a comet hit the Earth and took apart portion of the earth and made the moon.

How ancient Hindus thought of space?

Nepal is a land greatly influenced by ancient civilizations. Old Hindu view of the how universe was created is explored in this study. This is compared with the modern scientific understanding. Other space phenomenon such as Black Holes is studied here.

Useful resources

Nepali – English Calendar (Date) Conversion

Nepal uses Vikram Sambat as its official calendar and, therefore, official Nepali documents contain dates that are often unfamiliar to foreign readers. Please click here to access a web-based program that converts your dates from Nepali to English Calendar and vice versa.

Having your own Nepali Calendar in your own computer

If your are interested in installing a freeware Nepali Calendar (Vikram Sambat) on your own computer, you can do so. This calendar Vikram Sambat Calendar from year 1 to 100000000001. Please to download a Vikram Sambat calendar program.

A web-based resource on various calendars of the world

Please click here to learn about various calenders used around the world.


Shreejan Paudel The content of this page is developed by Shreejan Paudel, a Grade 6 student of Broadview Avenue Public School, Ottawa, Canada. The Nepali Language Class, to which Shreejan is a student was made possible due to collaborative efforts of Nepalese Canadian Association of Ottawa (www.nepalese.ca) and Ottawa Carleton District School Board (ocdsb.ca).

After our students research all the material and write their material with the best of their abilities, our teachers correct them and enhance the grammer and writing to make them presentable to all people around the world.