Sinivali and Raka
Sinivali, Kuhu, Anumati and Raka are names of Goddesses in the Vedas. Veda Vyasa, the compiler of Vedas, gathered only two mantras related to Sinivali in Rig Veda. Therefore, Translators find these verses hard to translate. However, Vyasa provides additional clues in his Purana works in such cases. This is the case also about Sinivali (सिनीवाली), Raka (राका), Kuhu (कुहू) or young moon and Anumati. They are Vedic goddesses who are associated with the phases of the moon. A review of the idea of the phases of the moon in the context of the Kalaas of Soma brings us more clarity.
Subdivisions in new moon phase (thithi)
Vedic astronomers split the lunation cycle (29.5 days) into thirty units. Each Thithi unit (similar to the phases of the moon) refers to a 12-degree movement of the Moon from the Sun (Surya Siddhanta). Consequently, the average duration of a Thithi is less than 24 hours. There is one anomaly when we go to an earlier Era. This relates to the Amavasya (new moon) Thithi.
During Vedic times, Rishis took Amavasya to be of two kinds. Sinivali is the name of the Amavasya when the Moon rises marginally before the Sun. Kuhu is the name of the Amavasya when the Sun rises marginally before the Moon. Thus, Sinivali and Kuhu are a part of the Lunar cycle, specifically, as a part of Amavasya. How does this fit in the modern-day idea of the New Moon?
The role of Sinivali and Raka in the sixteen Kalaas
Astronomers take the advent of the full moon to be the point of total conjunction between the Moon and the Sun. Consequently, the moon right before entering the full conjunction is a part of Sinivali. Correspondingly, the Kuhu portion of Amavasya (Young Moon) occurs after the full conjunction. We can understand the idea of the sixteen Kalaas of the Soma now. Certainly, we must also know that the Full Moon has two similar aspects, namely, Anumati and Raka.
Soma energy from the Sun gathers in the vicinity of the Earth-Moon system during Shukla Paksha (the waxing half of the Moon’s cycle). Subsequently, The Devas and Pitrus consume this Soma during Krishna Paksha (the waning phase of the Moon). Each Deva (see the list below) consumes one Kalaa portion of Soma on the designated day. The Pitrus consume the fifteenth Kala unit. Only one Kalaa portion remains in the Earth-moon system before the moon conjuncts with the Sun.
Sinivali, the braided goddess of fertility
A third each of this last Kalaa portion enters Arka (milk sap producing plant) and the other herbs respectively, in the morning and in mid-afternoon. The final third of the final kala portion enters water. All the remnant Soma energy in the Earth-moon system infuses into water. Seeds sown at Amavasya can draw out this power from the soil. Therefore, farmers in India have followed the custom of sowing seeds on Amavasya. Besides, Vedic priests conduct a special ritual on the first Thithi following an Amavasya to harnesses this power.
We notice something unique about Sinivali who represents the final Soma unit. Individual Devas or Gods drink whole units of Soma. However, the Sinivali portion gets distributed for several purposes. The braided Goddess is often represented with many plaits of hair. Because of her role in the germination of seeds, she is a goddess of fertility in the Vedic tradition (Rig Veda mantras). Devi Jyeshta is another braided Goddess.
Siddhars mention the sixteen Kalaa units frequently in their texts. They map the sixteen Kalaa units in the physical world to the energy channels (Solar and Lunar) within the subtle body. They analyze the role of Soma energy in the field of human fertility. This is a fascinating topic.
Veda Vyasa lists this in Samba Purana. The order is Agni, Ravi, Vishwedeva, Prajapati, Varuna, Indra, Sapta Rishis, Vasus, Yama, Maruts, Rudra, Vishnu, Pashupati, Pitrus