April 2011 of Burmese Calendar

A typical month of Burmese calendar. Good day (ရက်ရာဇာ), bad days (ပြဿဒါး), full moon day (လပြည့်) and no-moon day (လကွယ်) are all in there.

Burmese calendar (မြန်မာ ပြက္ခဒိန်)  is somewhat an awkward calendar for me. I love it for having so many traditional holidays and sabbath days. Still, I hate it for not having future more than a year.

Burmese calendar is treasured by many and is essential for most Burmese. Thingyan (သင်္ကြန်) water festival is the sign of new year along with Thingyansar (Astrologer’s prediction paper for the whole year). Festivals or holidays for every month, it’s not wrong to assume that Burmese people are “never sorry, ever jolly” type.

Burmese calendar was based on ancient Hindu calendar which itself has undergone many changes. Today there are several regional Indian calendars and south Asian calendars.

I will skip the details since these can be technical, confusable and can be learned from several resources. Burmese calendar is one of lunisolar calendars in which months are decided by appearance of moon. In Burmese, month and moon use same word “la” (လ). Each month has 29 or 30 days. So, the whole year is 354 days which is 11 days short of regular Gregorian calendar which is closest to one year circle. So to make up for those missing days, there is 13 months year (ဝါထပ်နှစ်) in every few years. We call it small leap year (384 days) or big leap year (385 days).

What’s the main factors in deciding which is the first day of the year or which is the leap year? Even among Burmese astrologers who decide the longitude of Burmese calendar times, there always had controversies. And decision of which year will be leap year is always being in dispute until last minute. So there never has been a long-term calendar for future. We can look back the past. But we cannot look forward or calculate the future more than a year. In short, Burmese calendar has only been for traditional holidays and Gregorian calendar is for everything else.

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