A few days back, I received a tabletop calendar that was totally ‘cool’! Well, it is already April, and you might ask me, wasn’t it a tad late to receive a calendar in the month of April? Like I have written several times in the past, the Gregorian calendar and January 1st of a year really have no particular relevance with the seasons or the planetary movements. It is ‘yet another day’.
However, let us take April 14th of any Gregorian year. On that date, every year, the Sun restarts his journey from Aries after transiting through all 12 zodiac signs. Remember, this path is as observed by us from the Earth. This is considered the New Year—a fresh start—and sets the ground for the Solar Vedic Calendar (known as Souramana Ugadi). The sun stays in each sign/rashi for roughly 30 days, as observed from Earth. Thus, when Sun transits into Aries or Mesha Rashi, it marks the beginning of the circle as well as the Solar New Year. We also have some communities that follow the luni-solar form of the calendar and observe the Chandramana Ugadi that begins on the first new moon after the Spring Equinox of the month ‘Chaitra‘. Typically, the panchang/ calendar, is worshipped on the day. Invariably, these are in vernacular languages. Personally, growing up, we were simply not exposed to the names of Vedic calendar months or made to understand their significance. Somewhere, we were given the impression that it was for our grandmothers and priests to refer to. This study of the planetary movements is called ‘jyotisha’, which could give precise predictions on the seasons, festivals, and could be applied to our day to day lives. Hence, it was a ‘predictive’ astronomy.
Hence, it was a delight to get this calendar in my hands just after the ‘New Year’ – (yes, I am referring to April 14th!). This calendar is the brainchild of Charusmita Rao and Neelacantan. Charusmita (Charu), an alumna of IIM, Kolkata, is a director of talent development at a technology company, while Neelacantan (Neel) is a learning and development leader. Their vision to make Indian culture more relatable to the younger generation gave rise to the culture startup ‘Coolture Designs’. Coolture, an amalgamation of ‘cool’ and ‘culture’ works on projects that seek to refresh and rejuvenate culture and make it accessible to the new generation.
And this is exactly what Neel had to say on why they came up with this calendar: ” If you ask the younger generation, most of us do not know the significance of the Indian calendar. We dismiss it as “old”, “traditional” or “random”, and are often unable to explain it to our children. And in keeping with our philosophy, at Coolture, we felt, What if we came up with a different way of looking at the calendar? But to create a calendar that puts an Indic front and centre and keeps the Gregorian calendar on the side, it was easier said than done. However, after a few iterations and some fairly deep work with a jyotisha expert (Dr. Guha Vishwanath) and a visual designer (Vibhav), we achieved what we had set out to do.”
Here is a sneak peak of the tabletop calendar, based on the Vantikoppal (a locality in Mysore) Drg Ganita Panchanga. Drg Ganita is the science and art of computation, that originated in India.
As I sift through the other pages, I see that the calendar explains a ‘thithi’ (date), a vara (day), a maasa (month), a nakshatra (star), an ayana (solar movement), and the pakshas (the waxing and waning phases of the moon). I particularly liked the girl and boy mascots in their respective outfits!
What else does Coolture do? Says Charu, “Culture could be a heritage walk. It could be a game. It could be a piece of music or a weave. Coolture is about reimagining these strands and rejuvenating them. It could be in the preservation; it could be in the energising. Coolture seeks to do this from a place of pride in our heritage, making it more relevant in today’s day and age.”
Lofty and pertinent thoughts indeed, and here’s wishing Coolture all success! For more on them or to get your copy of the calendar, please visit the website http://www.coolture.in