How to observe Garbottam.

Garbottam is observation of cloud formation along with specific other meteorological features. It is one of the important methods for predicting rainfall beforehand.

Authors of literature on rainfall methods: Vedic sages Garga, Parasara, Kasyapa and Vatsa.

Texts to find: Brihad Samhita (Chapter 21 to 28) and Prasna Marga (Chapter 25).

Things needed:-

  • Knowledge of names of Lunar months and dates (thithi) and names of 27 stars of the Vedic astrology.
  • Astrology software or an almanac which helps in knowing the star in which Sun or Moon transits on a particular day.
  • Round the clock observation of the sky with the naked eye or observation at regular intervals.


When to begin observation.

There are 3 dates given, two by Brihad Samhita and one by Prasna Marga. No explanation is given by the authors for the differences. My interpretation is given in brackets.

  1. The first day of the bright half of the lunar month of Karthika (Oct- Nov) –Siddhasena School (Check for the breaking of South West Monsoon in Lakshadweep or Kerala.)
  2. The day Moon transits Puravashada in the bright half of Margashira (Nov- Dec) – Sage Garga (Check for the first rains in Middle or North India)
  3. The day Sun enters the star Purvashada. This is occurs after 13-20 degrees in the Sign Sagittarius. The period of 13 to 14 days starting from this is called the period of ‘Conception of rainfall’ or Garbottam.


Types of Garbottam observation.

(1) Everyday Garbottam.

(2) Margazhi or Solar Garbottam.


Everyday Garbottam:

Observed on all days starting from the Lunar month of Karthika until Shravana in general;

Or from Solar month of Karthikai to Vaikasi if the observer is in the West coast of India;

Or from Solar Margazhi to Solar month of Aani if the observer is in the east coast where NEM is expected.


Margazhi Garbottam.
The transit of the Sun in the star Purvashada (Pooradam) in the month of Margazhi can be known as Mother of Garbottam. This duration is given in the Panchanga.  The extent of a star is 13 degrees and 20 minutes. Sun covers roughly 1 degree per day. Therefore this Garbottam is roughly for 13 / 14 days.

Preliminary observation for this 14 day period of Garbottam is to check  if the entire sky is covered with dark clouds and the Sun is hidden behind the clouds.

The observation (or any observation that is being said in this article) is applicable for the place of the observer. In olden days every village had astrologers doing that observation. Even common man was doing the observation. Today meteorology applies to vast regions, but the ancient Indian method helps to tell on a day to day basis whether a particular locality would get rains or not. For that, the observer must be available on the place continuously atleast from Margashira (Margazhi) to Phalguni (Panguni) and on specific days at other months.

If on the 1st day of Garbottam, there are dark clouds all over the sky and sun is hidden behind, it will rain here and there and every now and then in the 14 day period when Sun will be transiting Arudra (in Gemini)

Similarly if on the 2nd  day of Garbottam, there are dark clouds all over the sky and sun is hidden behind, it will rain here and there and every now and then in the 14 day period when Sun will be transiting Punarvasu star (in Gemini and Cancer).

Similarly on the 3rd  day of Garbottam, there are dark clouds all over the sky and sun is hidden behind, it will rain here and there and every now and then in the 14 day period when Sun will be transiting Pushya star (in Cancer).

Like this Sun’s transit upto Moola star (prior to starting of the next Garbottam) is noted for rainfall. If the sky is completely overcast for the whole day in one of the Garbottam days in Margazhi, predict rainfall for the entire duration of 13 / 14 days of Sun’s transit in the corresponding star later.


The corresponding stars for each day of Margazhi Garbottam are as follows:

1st day – Arudra (Thiruvadirai) (Starts in June)

2nd day – Punarvasu

3rd day – Pushya

4th day – Aslesha (Ayilyam)

5th day – Magam

6th day – Purva phalguni (Pooram)

7th day – Uttara Phalguni (Uttaram)

8th day – Hastha

9th day – Chithra

10th day – Swati

11th day – Vishaka

12th day – Anuradha (Anusham)

13th day – Jyeshta (Kettai)

14th day  – Moola.


What to observe:

The following are applicable for both Margazhi Garbottam and everyday Garbottam. In the case of Margazhi Garbottam, the impact will be for 13 / 14 day duration of Sun’s transit in the corresponding star later. In the case of everyday Garbottam the impact will be felt on the 196th day.

Basics factors to observe:-

  1. Winds
  2. Rain
  3. Lightening
  4. Roar of thunder
  5. Appearance of clouds

Now relating the observation with prediction:

  1. Winds:-

Gentle and agreeable wind = Good rainfall

Cool breeze from North and Northeast = good rainfall.

Heavy winds = rain clouds would gather but be shattered

Dust storm = No rains

  1. Rain

In Margashira, there will be no rains. If it rains heavily, rainfall on the corresponding day would be affected. A gentle rain or drizzle would give good rainfall on the corresponding day after 6 and a half months.

  1. Lightening

Lightening = good rainfall

Rainbow in the morning or evening = good rainfall

  1. Roar of thunder

Low, rumbling roar of thunder = good rainfall

Heavy sounding thunder = rain clouds would shatter away.

  1. Clouds

Sky overcast with huge, bright, dense clouds = good rainfall

Needle shaped clouds or sword shaped clouds = good rainfall

Blood red clouds = good rainfall.


If on any day in the months from Margashira to Phalguni, all the above 5 factors are present, the quantity of the subsequent rainfall will be 1 Drona. (Drona is equal to 200 phalas. Quantification in today’s terms is not known. Perhaps the rainfall on those days can be recorded and cross checked with other days when similar conditions prevailed.)

Reduce the quantity by quarter for the absence of every one factor.

Three-some observation.

  1. Terrestrial
  2. Atmospheric
  3. Planetary.

(I) Terrestrial factors to be observed.

  1. Sweet chirpings of birds.
  2. Animals moving relaxedly and making pleasant sounds
  3. Kids making sweet sounds and playing
  4. Trees with sprouts
  5.    Trees grow without diseases.

(II) Atmospheric factors to be observed.

  1. Clouds resembling pearl or silver colour
  2. Clouds in the shape of aquatic animal, huge and dense.
  3. These clouds scorched by bright sun light
  4. Gentle breeze (presence of 3 and 4 together would result in torrential rain on the 196thday)
  5. Sun and the Moon encircled by glossy, bright and thick halo.
  6. Sky filled with bulky clouds or smooth needle like clouds (cirrus), or in the shape of sword.
  7. Clouds appearing in red or blue tint.
  8. Pleasant twilights in morning and evening.
  9. Light rumbling thunder
  10. Rainbow in the lower horizon.
  11. Red glow in the horizon at dawn and sun set. This must be seen only in Margashira and Pushya months. (Solar months also)
  12. Clouds with halos


Month-wise observation

In Margashira

  • red sun in the morning and evening,
  • sky in red colour before sunrise and after sunset.
  • clouds surrounded by halos,
  • very cold.

In Pushya –

  • red sun in the morning and evening,
  • clouds surrounded by halos,
  • excessive snowfall.

In Magha

  • strong wind,
  • sun and moon must be dimmed by clouds or snowfall at sun rise and sun set,
  • fog, mist, excessive cold

In Phalguni

  •   rough and violent storms
  •  tawny colour of the sun,
  • broken and imperfect halos around the sun and the moon,
  • glossy clouds moving across the sky

The above ensure good ‘conception of rainfall’.

In Chaitra and Vaishaka, sky marked by winds, clouds and halos ensure conception of rainfall which will fall on 196th day afterwards.

The following features in the 4 months from Margashira to Phalguni mar / spoil conception of rainfall.

  1. Meteor showers.
  2. Thunderbolt
  3. Dust storm
  4. Appearance of city-like formation of clouds.
  5. Unnatural phenomenon in the atmosphere in colour of sky, clouds etc and at sun rise and sun set.
  6. Rainfall
  7. Sighting of comets
  8. Eclipses
  9. Spots in solar disc (sun spot maxima?)


(III) Planetary factors to be observed in the 4 month period.

Good for conception of rainfall

– Planets appearing with clear and bright disc at night

–  Planets moving in Northern declinations

– Moon and stars must appear white


Planetary features marring / spoiling conception of rainfall.

  • Eclipses (mar rainfall later on the corresponding day)
  • Planetary war (where planets are close together in such a way one planet will be crossing another.) (mars rainfall for several days in the corresponding period.)


Position of Moon during the above 4 -month period.

When the above 3-some favourable features of conception are present in a day when Moon is crossing Purvashada, Uttarashada, Purva bhadrapada, Uttarabhadrapada and Rohini, the subsequent rainfall on the 195th day will be abundant.

When the above 3-some favourable features of conception are present in a day when Moon is crossing Arudra, Aslesha, Magha , Swati and Satabhishak, the subsequent rains will go on for many days. On the contrary, if the 3 some factors are marred, there will be dryness.

If Moon crosses all the above mentioned stars with 3-some factors being present and marring factors being absent in Margashira – would give rainfall for 8 days later (after 195 days).Read More »

Introduction to rainfall-prediction through astrology

Rainfall prediction forms a voluminous part of Mundane astrology followed in India since time immemorial. Names of prominent Rishis such as Kashyapa, Parashara, Garga and Vatsa are associated with prediction of rainfall. Perhaps the earliest reference comes in the mantras of Ashvamedha yajna. In the ritualistic question and answer dialogue in the course of Ashvamedha yajna, one question is

“Who is called poorvachitti?”

The reply that follows is:-

“The rain falling is called poorva chitti”.

Rainfall prediction is considered as Purva Chitti or prior wisdom in Vedic Thought as it can be judged in advance. Reiterating this Varahamihira says,

The predictions of an astronomer who pays exclusive attention, both day and night to the indications of rain afforded by pregnant clouds, will as little fail of success as the words of rishis.

What science can probably excel, in interest, the science relating to the prediction of rain, by a thorough study of which one though ignorant in other matters passes for a great astrologer in this Kaliyuga.”

(Brihad samhita, Chapter 21 – verses 3 &4)


The words ‘pregnant clouds’ in the above verse refer to the initial meteorological conditions that give rise to or related to the rainfall at a later date. Presence or absence of these conditions indicate whether there was an initial conception of rainfall at all. The texts variously call this as ‘foetus formation’ or ‘nature of pregnancy’ or ‘pregnancy of clouds’

One starts looking for pregnant clouds in the sky in the (solar) month of Margazhi (Sagittarius), soon after the rainfall of the previous season is over. When the Sun enters the star Pooradam (Purvashada) in the sign of Sagittarius in Margazhi, it is said that the conditions for the next season’s rainfall start taking shape. This goes on for 13 days when the Sun will be crossing the star Pooradam. This period is known as pregnancy period.

In Tamil this is known as Garbottam. One can find the beginning and end of this Garbottam period mentioned in the almanacs (Panchangam) of Tamilnadu. The Garbottam mentioned in almanacs refers to a short duration of observation but which can give a rough idea about a long range period that covers both South West and North East Monsoon periods (SWM and NEM)

There is another concept known as everyday Garbottam which must be checked everyday in a given place until July to predict the rainfall till the end of NEM season.

The basic rationale of this method of Garbottam is that the kind of meteorological features present in a particular place is related to rainfall or no-rainfall that would occur in that place 195 days later! In other words, the meteorological conditions seen at any place at a particular time in space is related to the rainfall conditions at the same place when earth has moved to 180 degrees away from that initial place. This can be shown by a diagram as follows:

The meteorological features present (shown as smaller circles) on day 1 at a particular place is related to the meteorological features seen after 195 days when the place is just opposite to the location on day 1.

For calculation of the day, one must be aware of the waxing and waning phase of the Moon and the days in each phase. Suppose favourable meteorological features (pregnancy features) are noticed in the waxing period of Margazhi, the rainfall would occur in the waning period 6 months later, counting from Margazhi, that is, in the month of Vaikashi. Thus the lunar phase and solar month are combined as time keepers.

There are many more ideas related to predicting rainfall given by sages which seem to have been backed by observation through generations in natural surroundings. They are documented in Brihad Samhita and Prasna Marga. Any reader of those books would be surprised to see the depth of the details such as the time, duration, place, extent, quantity and quality (heavy or light) of rainfall that can possibly be detected as early as 6- 1/2 months before the rains occur. These chapters deserve a deeper study and application so as to test them in the current times and if successful to incorporate them in rainfall prediction models.

Common man also stands to benefit by the knowledge of this. Until a century ago Garbottam was checked by agriculturists and others. So it is with the combined goals of reviving or re-introducing this knowledge, for enabling common man to foresee rainfall or deficit of it in a place and for verification and application as one of the tools in rainfall models, this blog is being created. At the time of starting this I am entering the 3rd year of observation and checking the results. If more people start doing the same from different locations, we may get a better idea about the reliability of the concepts and applicability of the same in subsequent seasons.