Chakra Announcements

A New Face for VCal

by GBC Vaisnava Calendar Committee

Posted October 31, 2005

VCal, the calendar calculation program, originally written by Shyamasundara Das and later substantially upgraded with the additional efforts of Markandeya Rishi Das, has been with us for more than 20 years. It was a real ISKCON pioneer, making it possible, quite early in the movement's history, for devotees in far-flung areas of the world to know when to celebrate all the vaisnava holy days -- when to fast and when to feast. Before VCal came to our rescue, every year there was a big mystery -- which day will be Rama Navami, Janmastami, etc.? No one knew until the day of Gour Purnima. Then, the Caitanya Math would publish its Sri Navadwip Panjika in Bengali. There was a mad rush to the Yogapith to get a copy. Then Bhakticaru Maharaja and others would painstakingly translate it into English, and slowly it would travel by post around the world to the major centers, etc. Usually you had to guess the day of Papamocani Ekadasi, the first of the year, and if you were lucky you got the posted calendar in time so you didn't miss observing Rama Navami.

With the advent of VCal, things improved greatly. The BBT in Sweden would calculate the holy days for all the established ISKCON centers and send the printouts by post, well in advance of the vaisnava new year on Gour Purnima. Not only that, but the calculations were customized for each location. We now could observe Ekadasi fasting and other days when we were supposed to according to the scriptural rules, instead of when our unvaisnavic Western calendars dictated.

Later, as computers became more common, the BBT allowed us to have our own copy of the VCal program and run it at our convenience. And that system has served us well for many years.

But the pioneer has gotten old.

Because VCal was written in the early 80's, its programming language is out of date, and it no longer makes sense to maintain and update the code. So, the GBC Vaishnava Calendar Committee has embarked on a modernization process.

The first step in this process can be seen at:

vcal.iskcongbc.org

Along the way we have also made some adjustments to the calculation system used by VCal in order to take advantage of our very latest research. A full explanation of the adjustments is available at the site.

So devotees are encouraged to use this site now, whenever possible, for their calendar calculation needs.

Contact email: vcal@iskcongbc.org

And if you need festival reminders sent to your inbasket, or if you use one of the common desktop calendar programs to inform you of the holy days, you'll want to visit www.vaisnavacalendar.info/. This site is fully synchronized with vcal.iskcongbc.org/, whereas other vaisnava reminder programs available on the web are not.