Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mobile Panchangam

Today is Ugadi and I received one of those little gifts which banks sometimes give away to customers, a little pocket annual calendar from State Bank of Hyderabad. It has essential information for any given day according to the religious calendar. These are quite common and many calendars in which you can tear away the date every date, often give useful info according to the calendars of many religions, including for example, the month according to the Hijri Calendar and include even a thought for the day. I was wondering why some mobile service provider can't give the same information on SMS for a given day. Panchangam for the day, by SMS, on demand, SMS charges apply. We get all kinds of info on SMS, cricket scores, thought for the day, reservation status, stock quotes and oh yes, coming closest is even astrology for the day. While these services may have something in common with similar operators in other countries, the Panchangam SMS will be a very india-specific service. Setting aside questions of belief or otherwise in the Panchangam, I was wondering if the service will have a market. In my view, yes. If you allow me excitement, quite a big one, in a vast country of believers, where people subscribe to things like virtual pooja. At the minimum, it might have as much reason to be present as a service, as is the astrology option present now. The Panchangam SMS can contain things like Thithi, Star, Good and Bad timings, Rahu Kalam and name of the festival, if any. Who might find it useful ? Anyone who believes in these things, and sometimes keeps track of these in his mind by quickly looking it up in an almanac, somehow can't reach one but has a cellphone. Maybe he is discussing a business transaction. Or planning an investment. Or going on an adventure trip. It will be great if the user can specify which calendar, like Hindu or Hijri.

I was discussing this idea with a friend during my riverside walk and I came to know that, to be technically precise, things like thithi are dependent on the local sunrise time and might actually differ from place to place. This might make things a little more difficult, though user can also the SMS the PINcode of his location!!. The mobile service providers now do give a lot of local content, but I think the categories of content might be similar to those that are offered in other advanced countries. Whereas this one would be a new idea, totally relevant to India. As to users who might find such content useless, Oh yes, lot of people might feel the same way about the other services mentioned above. Also, even when provided, it might not accurately fulfil the needs of some hardcore panchangamites who follow specific panchangams even within the Hindu Calendar, like the Srirangam Kutti Sastrigal Panchangam. But I think, overall, the service might attract a lot of users and also benefit both the customer and the service provider. Particularly, since, in India, localized services like JustDial.Com, which are entirely free to the individual customer, still have found a successful revenue model while giving useful advice, even for free. These days, it looks like in India and China, there would be a volumes market for almost anything, given their vast population. I would also love it, if Google can integrate Panchangam into their Google Calendar, as part of their efforts in offering localized content. Thats a little too much ? Google SMS is already in India and they have started SMS alerts in India for events in the user's Google Calendar. Hehehe, they just have to add a feature, "Subscribe to Daily Panchangam", with Hindu or Hijri, PINcode etc as default settings. At the rate of feature addition of Google, I am sure they'll take it further, and even notify you on upcoming special days like Akshaya Tritihiya and generate ad revenue from jewellery shops. Google Panchangam, how does it sound ?


  1. Yes a good idea, especially for people living in Parthi, and traditionalists elsewhere. Keep it up. Interesting stuff.
    Sai Ram

  2. Hey Naams,
    Well, your idea meets all the expectations that we have from you. But suggesting that its Google Calendar who can do it impresses me even more! ;)

    hmm...we need to work out the nuances though...what kind of info might be required, how it should be provided - on that day or prior to it...or all of them!

  3. It will be a good integration of modern technology with our traditional beliefs.

  4. hi nams,
    good idea but..................may not click ......reasons
    1) unlike astro updates where people look out for what their future(i mean in the next 24 hours likely to be , something like a weather report)whether people believe the the predictions is one one thing.it appeals to all mankind irrespective of caste, creed, religion etc....
    2) panchangam is purely technical stuff and and its appelal is limited to Brahmin's (i suppose)who are aware of its intricacies and its usage for the purpose of taking various desceions.which might not have appeal to the common man.
    3)panchangam again is time based .ie it depends upon the sunrise in a particular time zone. there are many time zones it differs from place to place.
    4)panchangam again has many schools of and it becomes more localised than universal which will not have many buyers.
    there are many more points which would make this proposition not so appealing for the developers. but still the idea seems to be utility.

  5. @Vinay :

    About Point 1 (vs.Astrology), I think there may be scope for a common audience. A section of the people who seek Astrology to know where they are destined, probably also might want to believe how to make life better by choosing the timing of their action.

    About Point 2 (priestly class) : If the oil lamps for Rahu in Durga temples like Kanakadurgam during rahu kalam are anything to go by, I think a lot of people from the non-priestly classes seem to have a basic knowledge about what days are okay and what days are not, particularly in the avoidance of Ashtami and Navami. They might have to seek out the priestly class for accurate muhoorthams for special events like naming their kid, but I think many people with a religious inclination, the kind who buy bhakthi magazines, do look up the daily tearable calendar for little things like Yama Kandam.

    Agree on Points 3 (sunrise difference) and Point 4 (edition difference). These are indeed tough things to be sorted out. Among Websites who provide panchangam data online, some ask for a location and some don't. I am sure Google worshippers like Rampy would like to resolve even these subtle nuances by combo settings. :) :)

  6. Very nice post. Actually using location based services that are getting featured in phones, it is not hard to find out the lat-long, get the local sunrise information (weatherbug probably) and send out the information. Sadly, culture is more of a costume that we want to wear when abroad, while walking stark naked back at home. This changing mindset, the need to be cool and nonchalant are the reasons for not going for something like this. But thanks a very interesting thought. Sai Ram!

  7. Actually Airtel has a Panchangam service - Rs. 6 per minute IVR. Don't know how good it is or whether it is throughout the year, but I got a promo sms on Yugadi day.

  8. And googling
    Airtel Panchagam
    showed that they have experimented with SMS based panchangam in 2002 itself.

  9. Well I just casually bumped here on a search for UPDATE for Mobile Panjika!!!!. I had used it in late 2007.. but didnt get after 2008. To be clear. I myself have only a very vague idea of Panchangam like what thithi etc are .but i was impressed with the software. It was for Symbian S60 phones, and gave minute details...(honestly i didnt know what it was) and one of my prof verfied it to be appropriate. I got it only to impress the elders.
    But seeing people like here...I think if you can contact the creator...he might throw more insight and probable could redo it.
    THe only link google got me closer to the creator of this software was this. (www.110mb.com/forum/mobile-panjika-my-astronamical-software) well this link might not work directly as i couldnt paste the entire long link. Just copy or google the above words..You might loacte the creator.
    Good luck.
    Suresh Thulasidharan. akashths@yahoo.com

  10. ya it is good idea It will be great if the user can specify which calendar, like Hindu people...

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THANK YOU: These reflections draw sometimes from readers and friends who initiate ideas, build up discussions, post comments and mention interesting links, some online and some over a cup of coffee or during a riverside walk. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this blog are the blogger's personal opinions and made in his individual capacity, sometimes have a story-type approach, mixing facts with imagination and should not be construed as arising from a professional position or a counselling intention.