As the Moon orbits around the Earth, it also crosses a part of the Sun’s orbit on regular intervals. This crossing of orbits occurs 28 times (sometimes 27 times) in a year. These 28 (or 27) cross-sections are called Nakshatras. In simple words, a Nakshatra (or a lunar mansion) is a section of the Sun’s path or the ecliptic through which the Moon passes while it orbits around Earth. There are, hence, a total of 28 Nakshtras defined in the Vedic Astrology.
In Hindu astrology, Nakshatras play a very important role. Once a child is born, they should be given an auspicious first name corresponding to the Nakshatra of the child. To derive the name one should first check and see to which nakshatra the moon is in at the moment of birth. This will give you four different sounds and you should be able to pick one sound out of that four that relates to the pada or division of the Nakshatra. Each Nakshatra has four padas and four sounds and each pada is equal width. In each nakshatra, the moon will remain for approximately one day.
A Nakshatra shows us the direction of the nature’s flow of energy. Ancient cultures frequently used it as a part of their calendar or dating system. However, their use was not limited to denote time. The direction of this flow of energy helps in identifying the hidden mental character of every individual. They guide us in following the directions of one’s actions & just like a weather forecast, help us in predicting the true karma of an individual based on their natural tendencies. In ancient history, this method was often used to predict the future of newborn children, and to understand their caliber in a given field of work. Thus, they play a vital role in understanding the predicament of a human being & provide a rational explanation for a person’s actions. Nakshatras are exclusive to Vedic Astrology & as explained, directly connected with the movements of the Moon. Moon is often associated with emotions and feelings, unlike the Sun, which is more connected with actions than emotions. Therefore, the predictions based on the lunar astrology are much more accurate.