A number of different calendars are used in Indonesia. In addition to the traditional Javanese and Balinese calendars they also use the Gregorian, Hindu, and Muslim Calendars—each of which months and years of different lengths. Add to that that they have two names for weeks, months, years and so on (one is more formal, the other informal), and you end up with a system that is baffling and confusing to outsiders. The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of the Republic of Indonesia and civil society, while the Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and Indonesian government for religious worship and deciding relevant Islamic holidays. [Source:, July 7, 2012, Wikipedia ]

Muslim Calendar - Hijriah– is a lunar calendar, 10-11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. The calendar begins in the year that Mohammad took flight from Mecca to Medina. Each lunar month has 29 days.

Gregorian or Roman Calendar is the throughout the world, this calendar marks its beginning with the birth of Christ. The year is divided into 12 months, consisting of 30 or 31 days, except for the month of February.

Balinese Calendar — Saka-Wuku — is a combination of Saka, the Hindu solar-lunar year of 12 moons, and the Javanese-Balinese Wuku calendar of 210 days which is divided into weeks. The combination of these two calendars and the many names for the different weeks and days make the Balinese calendar a complicated puzzle to solve. Experts in the field consult special charts and tables to determine days for the various religious festivals and significant days.

The Balinese calendar is used to determine birthdays (oton), anniversaries of temples (odalan), and the many festivals and days for things that are so important in the everyday life of the Balinese. It is also used by rural Balinese to determine good days for the planting of crops. The calendar is determined by the phases of the moon, the most important days being each full moon (purnama) and new moon (tilem).

Indonesian Muslim Lunar Calendar

The Muslims use a variation of the Hijri, the Islamic Calendar, with a few adjustments of a day here or there. This Calendar only runs 12 lunar months (wulan), which means that a full cycle is 354 or 355 days. Whereas the Hijri lunar months are based on observation, which can differ from location to location, some alternate between 29 and 30 day months. Although this may be easier, it is not universally accepted. This is the scheme that the Javanese apply to their own version. Wulan: 1) Sura (30 days); 2) Sapar (29 days); 3) Mulud (30 days); 4) Bakda Mulud (29 days); 5) Jumadi Awal (30 days); 6) Jumadi Akhir (29 days); 7) Rejeb (30 days); 8) Ruwah (29 days); 9) Pasa (30 days); 10) Sawal (29 days); 11) Sela (30 days); 12) Besar (29 or 30 days).[Source:, July 7, 2012]

Each tahun (a lunar year of 12 months) has its own name, and the number of days in Besar are determined according to where they fall. There are 8 tahun as follows: 1) Alip (354 days); 2) Ehe (354 days); 3) Jemawal (355 days); 4) Je (354 days); 5) Dal (355 days); 6) Be (354 days); 7) Wawu (354 days); 8) Jimakir (355 days). Each group of 8 tahun is called a windu, and there are four of those. 1) Adi; 2) Kunthara; 3) Sengara; 4) Sancaya.

The significance of these cycles is rather interesting. The Wulan (lunar months) is attributed an idea Rijal is the mystical power of life (birth-death). The first nine months represent gestation, the tenth month is birth into the world, the eleventh month is the end of his/her life in the world, the twelfth the return to the void. Each tahun in the group of 8 has a word/idea associated with it as well. Stringing these 8 “lunar years” gives us the following sentence: starting a wish/make/work/fate/life/always return/to the direction/void. This makes a sentence as follows “It starts by making activities for the process of life, it always returns to the void.” This sentiment follows the cycle of birth, growth and death, as we’ve seen in other cultures. It is the cycle of life, intimately tied to the cycle of time over the period of 8 lunar years, repeated four times.

Javanese Calendar

The Javanese calendar is the calendar of the Javanese people. Used concurrently with two other calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar, the Javanese Calendar interlocks a 5-day week with the seven-day Gregorian Week. The 5 days are associated with the cardinal directions (N, E, W, S and Centre). However, the 5-day week has fallen as it was replaced by the Gregorian Week. The Javanese calendar is used by the main ethnicities of Java island: Javanese, Madurese and Sundanese people – primarily as a cultural icon, a cultural identifier and as an object and tradition of antiquity to be kept alive. The Javanese calendar is used for cultural and metaphysical purposes of these Javanese peoples [Source: Wikipedia +]

The current system of Javanese calendar was inaugurated by Sultan Agung of Mataram in the Gregorian year 1633. Prior to that, Javanese had used the Hindu calendar or Saka calendar which that starts in 78 CE and uses the solar cycle for calculating time. Sultan Agung's calendar retained the Saka calendar year counting but differs by using the same lunar year measurement system as the Islamic calendar, rather than using the old solar year. Occasionally it is referred by its Latin name Anno Javanico or AJ (Javanese Year). +

Calendar cycles: The Javanese calendar contains multiple, overlapping but separate measurements of times, called cycles. These include: 1) the native five-day week, called Pasaran; 2) the common Gregorian and Islamic seven-day week; 3) the Solar months cycle, called Mangsa the Lunar months cycle, called Wulan; 4) the year-cycles, or Tahun; and 5) octo-ennia (8 year) cycles, or Windu. +

Division of time Days in Javanese calendar, like in the Islamic calendar, start at sunset. Traditionally Javanese people didn't divide day and night into hours, but divided it into phases. The division of a day and night are (Start,End, Javanese name, Meaning): A) 6 am, 8 am, esuk, morning; B) 8 am, 12 pm, teng'angi, midday; C) 12 pm, 1 pm, bedug', time for bedug prayer; D) 1 pm, 3 pm, lingsir kulon, (sun) moving west; E) 3 pm, 6 pm, asar, time for asar prayer; F) 6 pm, 8 pm, sore, evening; G) 8 pm, 11 pm, sirap, sleepy time; H) 11 pm, 1 am, tengah wengi, midnight; I) 1 am, 3 am, lingsir wengi, late night; J) 3 am, 6 am, bangun, awakening

Cycles of Days on the Javanese Calendar

The native Javanese system groups days into a five-day week called Pasaran, unlike many calendars that used seven-days week. The name, pasaran, is derived from the root word pasar ("market"). Historically, but also still today, Javanese villagers gather communally at local markets to meet socially, engage in commerce, and buy and sell farm produce, cooked foods, home industry crafted items and so on. John Crawfurd (1820) suggested that the length of the week/cycle is related to the number of fingers on the hand,[5] and that itinerant merchants would rotate their visits to different villages according to a five day "roster". [Source: Wikipedia +]

The days of the cycle have two names each, because the Javanese language has distinct vocabulary associated with two different registers of politeness: ngoko (informal) and krama (formal). The krama names for the days are much less common, and so are given in parentheses. Signs of the Pasaran cycle: 1) Legi (Manis); 2) Pahing (Pait); 3) Pon (Petak); 4) Wagé (Cemeng); 5) Kliwon (Asih). +

The origin of the names is unclear, and their etymology remains obscure. Possibly, the names may be derived from indigenous gods, like the European and Asian names.[5] An ancient Javanese manuscript illustrates the week with five human figures (shown at right below the day names): a man seizing a suppliant by the hair, a woman holding a horn to receive an offering, a man pointing a drawn sword at another, a woman holding agricultural produce, and a man holding a spear leading a bull. +

Additionally, Javanese consider these days' names to have a mystical relation to colors and cardinal direction: 1) Legi : white and East; 2) Pahing : red and South; 3) Pon : yellow and West; 4) Wage : black and North; 5) Kliwon : blurred colors/focus and 'center'. Markets no longer operate under this traditional Pasaran cycle, instead pragmatically remaining open every day of the Gregorian week. However many markets in Java still retain traditional names that indicated that once the markets only operated on certain Pasaran days, such as Pasar Legi, or Pasar Kliwon..

The seven-day long week cycle (dina pitu, "seven days") is derived from the Islamic calendar, adopted following the spread of Islam in Indonesian archipelago. The names of the days of the week in Javanese are derived from their Arabic counterparts, namely. Days of Seven-day Week (Javanese, Arabic, English): 1) Senin, yaum al-ithnayn, Monday; 2) Selasa, yaum ath-thalatha', Tuesday; 3) Rebo, yaum al-arbaa', Wednesday; 4) Kemis, yaum al-khamis, Thursday; 5) Jemuwah, yaum al-juma, Friday; 6) Setu, yaum as-sabt, Saturday; 7) Minggu/Ahad, yaum al-ahad, Sunday. These two week systems occurred concurrently, thus a certain Friday may fall on a Kliwon day, and thus called Jumat Kliwon. This combination form the wetonan cycle explained below.

Wetonan Cycle of the Javanese Calendar

The Wetonan cycle superimposes the five-day Pasaran' cycle with the seven-day week cycle. Each Wetonan cycle lasts 35 (7x5) days. An example of wetonan cycle: The "Wetonan" Cycle for 2nd week of May (Mei) 2008: English, Monday 5, Tuesday 6, Wednesday 7, Thursday 8, Friday 9, Saturday 10, Sunday 11; Javanese seven-day week, Senin 5, Selasa 6, Rebo 7, Kemis 8, Jumat 9, Setu 10, Minggu/ Ahad 11; Javanese Pasaran week, 28 Pon, 29 Wage, 1 Kliwon, 2 Legi, 3 Pahing, 4 Pon, 5 Wage From the example above, the Weton for Tuesday May 6, 2008 would be read as Selasa Wage.

The Wetonan cycle is especially important for divinatory systems, and important celebrations, rites of passage, commemorations and so forth are held on days considered to be auspicious. An especially prominent example widely still taught at primary schools is the Weton for the Proclamation of Independence of Indonesia on August 17, 1945, which was at Jumat (Friday) Legi. It was also coinciding with the Weton for the birth and death of Sultan Agung, considered one of the greatest kings of Java history. Therefore, Jumat Legi is considered an important night for pilgrimage. There are also taboos that relate to the cycle; for example, the ritual dance bedhaya can only be performed on Kemis (Thursday) Kliwon.

Important Days to the Javanese

Javanese astrological belief dictates that individual characteristics or future are attributable to the combination of the Pasaran day and the 'common' weekdays of the Islamic calendar of that person's birthday. Javanese people find great interest in their astrological interpretations in this combination, which is called the Wetonan cycle. The coincidence of the Pasaran day with the common day on the day of birth is considered by Javanese to indicate the personal characteristics of that person, similar to the Western Zodiac and planetary positioning in Western astrology.

The Javanese birthday or Weton is an important day for Javanese people. It consists of a day withing the 35-day Weton cycle. . The Javanese believe this day is for contemplation and getting in touch with one's different aspects. They also see this day as a day on which one is vulnerable to external and internal influences, so one should prepare by fasting or other exercises. It is customary to make a special offering on this day. The Weton, Javanese believe, starts at 15:00 the day before. This is why you need to fill in the hour of birth at the time zone where you were born.

Windu is a very special day for Javanese. It occurs during the eighth lunar year where values of the Javanese calendar converges. Eight is an auspicious number to the Javanese. The 64th lunar year (8x8) is regarded as one of the most important days in a person’s life in terms of the Javanese calendar. When a person’s birthday lands on his or her Weton, it is a time to pay special attention to.

Pawukon (210-Day Balinese-Hindu Calendar)

The Balinese Pawukon is complicated calendar used in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia.
Though most associated with Bali, it is still used in Java for special purposes. According to blog the abysmal: “In essence, it is a 210-day market calendar, that combines market weeks of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 days. As 4, 8, and 9 don’t divide evenly into 210, there are special rules to make it all work. Also, the 1-day market “week” is irregular, and follows a special schedule. got all that? good. One 210 day cycle began on June 17, 2012 the next began on January 13, 2013. This calendar doesn’t align itself to other calendars, and as far as I’ve been able to gather, runs 210-days consecutively over and over, without a leap year or similar consideration.[Source:, July 7, 2012]

The seven-day week is not the same as the seven-day week on the pawukon. Each day is given a different name with different significance. So it appears that there are two cycles of 7-days, one of which has two names. The 7-day week runs concurrently with a 5-day week (not the same as the one on the pawukon either), and the two form a 35-day cycle of days. The seven days are: Minggu – Sunday; Senin – Monday; Selasa – Tuesday; Rebo – Wednesday; Kemis – Thursday; Jemuah – Friday; Setu – Saturday. The five days are: 1) Kliwon, 2) Legi, 3) Paing, 4) Pon and 5) Wage. Each of these days has two names, here is only the informal name. [Source:, July 7, 2012]

Weekday Significance: Each of the seven weekdays is associated with the motion of the moon toward the earth: 1) Sunday – standstill: 2) Monday – forward; 3) Tuesday – backward; 4) Wednesday – left; 5) Thursday – right; 6) Friday – up; 7) Saturday – down. Each of the five days of the other market week represent the positions of the moon: 1) Kliwon – stand-up; 3) Legi – retreat; 3) Paing – in front of; 4) Pon – sleep; 5) Wage – sit down.

See Bali

Pranata Mangsa and Saka Calendar

The Pranata Mangsa is an annual calendar that has divisions of uneven but symmetrical duration which align with the seasons in Indonesia (more or less). It is unlike any other calendar system in the world. The Pranata Mangsa is particular to the island of Java, as it doesn’t fit with the climate in other parts of the archipelago. There are 12 divisions in the year, with. It begins on June 23, then clockwise, 41 days to August 2, 23 Days to 25 August and so on. The one anomaly is Kawolu VIII, which occurs after February 3. It can be either 26 or 27 days, depending on whether it is a leap year or not. [Source:, July 7, 2012]

Mangsa Significance: 1) Kaso - dry season; 2) Karo – middle of dry season; 3) Katelu – end of dry season; 4) Kapat – rain begins; 5) Kalima – rain can lead to strong winds and flooding; 6) Kanem – rain leads to lightning and landslides; 7) Kapitu – peak of the rainy season; 8) Kawolu – rain still – rice grows, grubs abound; 9) Kasanga – guess what? rain; 10) Kasadasa – rain finally diminishes; 11) Desta – dry season starts up; 12) Saddha – dry season – water starts to recede. There are attributations regarding plant, animal, and agricultural cycles within the shift from dry to rainy season. It’s a wonderful example of a local calendar, and alas, it has fallen out of use in the past century or so.

Saka Calendar used in Bali is a Hindu calendar, which is divided into 12 lunar months of 29 to 30 days. This calendar determines when harvest festivals, some temple festivals and the Balinese New Year are celebrated. Every 30 months an additional month is added to keep the saka calendar in sync with the solar year. For the year 2012 New Year’s Day was on March 23rd. For 2013, it was on March 11th.

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

Last updated June 2015

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