All ye superstitious idiots, rejoice – there’s a new Panchang application on the iPhone.
For centuries, the Panchang or calendar, has been the combined equivalent of the Bible, Koran and Torah to guide the Hindu devout to the various festivals and auspicious/inauspicious days.
To tap into the Hindu obsession with the Panchang, a new application has debuted on the Apple iPhone to guide the lives of Hindus by providing details based on the Indian lunar calendar (the application should presumably work on the upgraded iPod touch too).
According to the folks at Wikipedia, the word Panchang is derived from the Sanskrit word panchangam (pancha, five; anga, limb), which refers to the five limbs of the calendar: the lunar day, the lunar month, the half-day, the angle of the sun and moon, and the solar day.
We downloaded the 99-cent Panchang application wirelessly (via Wi-Fi) on our iPhone 3G (took about 30 seconds to download and install) and played with the app for a while.
The Panchang application provides three views that can be accessed by pressing any of the three tabs at the bottom – Month, Thithi and Festivals.
Pressing the Month tab – Provides date-wise information on whether the day is auspicious (red), inauspicious (gray) or normal (blue) along with sundry details such as (for Sep. 8, 2008) Bhadrapad, Shukla Paksha (sud) and Radha Ashtami. Now, don’t ask us what Bhadrapad, Shukla Paksha (sud) and Radha Ashtami mean.
Pressing the Tithi tab – Lets you view a particular thithi (lunar day), say Poonam, Amavas or Ekadashi grouped together for a full year.
Pressing the Festival tab – Provides you a date-wise list of Indian festivals (Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jain and Sikh) for the full year.
What’s Bad about the Panchang Application?
1. There is no search feature, a major lacuna if you are searching for a specific festival like Diwali or Ganesh Chaturthi.
2. The user interface is mediocre. For instance, when you are on the month view you can jump to a particular month from Jan-Sep by clicking on numbers 1-9 on the right-hand side but Oct, Nov & Dec are listed as A, B and C respectively. Why use numbers for nine months and alphabets for three months. Weird.
3. Includes irrelevant details like birthdays of Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar Patel, Republic Day, Friendship Day (August 3). If Friendship Day and Republic Day can be included in the Festival list of a Panchang application, why not Valentine’s Day? We are serious.
4. Since Panchang is a Hindu calendar, why include information on Christian, Sikh and Muslim festivals. Looks like the developer just wanted to flaunt his secular credentials.
5. Overall, the Panchang application has a crude look, with none of the slick finesse you expect in a paid application.
Festivals provides a list of all major Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Sikh festivals along with some details that made no sense to us. For instance, September 3 was identified as Ganesh Chaturthi, birthday of the Elephant God Ganesh, beloved of most Hindus. When you press the Sep 3 Ganesh Chaturthi tab on the screen, it opens on to a full screen that gives you some info like Bhadrapad and Shukla Paksha (sud) that made no sense to us. A brief plain English explanation of non-common religious terms like Bhadrapad or Shukla Paksha would have been useful in a separate glossary.
We’d have also liked a one or two line summary of what each festival is about.
The developer HemantGarg.com is promising free update for 2009.