Happy new multicultural year

By Murray Bourne, 01 Jan 2011

My local council gave us a 2011 desk calendar.

I thought it encapsulated how Singapore has successfully produced a multicultural society.

Here's today's entry:

new years day

We see:

  • The Gregorian calendar date (established by Pope Gregory in the 16th century) for today (1st January) using Hindu-Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, ...)
  • The Chinese characters for "27", since it is the 27th day of Hiemens (the winter month). It is Chinese Year 4708.
  • 26 Muharram (the first month of the Islamic year). Muslim years are 354 days long and similar to Chinese calendar in that they are based on 12 lunar months. It is currently the year 1432 A.H. in the Muslim calendar (1432 years since Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina, A.D. 622)
  • The Malayalam date 17 Dhanu, year 1186.

(That last one took some research and even then, it is one day out of synch with most of the Malayalam calendars I found. Perhaps my Indian readers could enlighten me.)

Singapore has put racial tolerance and harmony very high on the agenda. Respecting cultural norms, especially key festival dates, is a great place to start.

Sadly, too many countries try to destroy cultures of minorities, usually with tragic results.

Happy New Year, everyone!

See the 10 Comments below.

10 Comments on “Happy new multicultural year”

  1. Johan C de Nijs says:

    My best wishes for the New Year Murray.I thank you for the great service that you render to the mathematical world. Being 86 I never will become a mathematical giant. However, I try to absorb as much as I can. Mathematics is now so much diversified that mathematicians have to specialize. I am reading now again my book: 'The Mathematical Tourist, by Ivars Peterson. (new and udated snapshots of modern mathematics.
    I went through a difficult time as my house was flooded by hurricane Nicole. Much damage to furniture, scientific books and my scriptures. I am back now and meet a new day. God bless. Johan.

  2. Murray says:

    Hi Johan and always good to hear from you.

    Sorry to hear about your flooded house - I hope you have everything back in order now. All the best to you!

  3. S Anand says:

    The last (fourth) one mentioned in the calender indicates that the Tamil month Markhazhi 17. It is based on Tamil calender. Not Malayalam.

    I really agree with him; It is great that the country Singapore treats all the citizens equally irrespective of the race carrying forward their cultural values.



  4. ??????'s enlightening says:

    ??????? 17 (Maarkazhi 17) is a TAMIL date. It is not the Malayalam calendar. Tamil communities constitute a considerable percent of Singapore population. You can find Tamil script on Singapore dollar bills. There are Tamil schools also. Malayalam (??????) is an offshoot from the Tamil language.

  5. Dr V N Krishnachandran says:

    I am a native speaker of Malayalam language.
    I was so delighted and excited to see my mother tongue
    mentioned in your News Letter of which I am
    a regular reader. Very many thanks for making a reference
    to this language in your column.

    Malayalam is spoken mostly in Kerala State in India which is located in the south-west corner of the
    Indian sub-continent. You may be surprised to know that
    this land has a rich tradition in mathematics. One high
    point of this tradition is the discovery of the
    power series expansions of the sine and cosine
    functions by Kerala mathematicians some
    two centuries before these were rediscovered in Europe.

    A starting point to know more about these could
    be the Wikipedia article on
    "Kerala school of astronomy and mathematics".

    Thanks again.

  6. Murray says:

    @S Anand and ??????'s enlightening (we can't read your name without Tamil fonts!): Thanks for the information. I first assumed it was Tamil (since Tamil is one of the official languages in Singapore) but the calendars I found did not have a "17" date corresponding with 1st January. Or maybe I was looking in the wrong places.

    @ Dr V N Krishnachandran: Thanks for your interesting input about the Kerala school.

    Just to put my mind at rest - is the date a legitimate Malayalam date as well as Tamil?

  7. Rani says:

    Belated WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR Murray sir. Thank u for giving me the good content for me, thank u so much sir

  8. Murray says:

    Thanks Rani - and the same to you, too!

  9. Jane says:

    Thanks Murray,
    You have given me a good idea for my form group to develop a calendar. We have a very mixed cultural group and I think the students will find it an interesting task.

  10. Murray says:

    Hi Jane and thanks for sharing. Yes, a lot of mathematics was developed while trying to solve real-life calendar problems, so it's a worthwhile thing to do.

    I'd love to see your students' calendar when they are finished!

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