This Year, The Hindu Calendar Will Have An Extra Month Or Adhik Maas! What Is The Story Behind This 13-Month Year?
Compared to the simple Common Era or Gregorian calendar, the Hindu calendar, based on Lunar months appears complicated. It is divided into two halves, the sun first moves northward, beginning its journey into Capricorn. In the second half, it goes southward into Cancer. The two occasions called Makara Sankranti and Karka Sankranti, occur in January and June respectively. In astronomy, these two periods are called Uttarayan and Dakshinayan. To match the lunar year with the Gregorian or CE calendar, the Hindu calendar has an extra month every 2 ½ or 3 years. 2012 is such a year. This year, the Adhik Maas (Adhik Bhadrapad) begins on 18th August and ends on 16th September. The Nija Bhadrapad starts on 16th September and ends on 15th October 2012
By Vimla Patil
The twelve lunar months of the Hindu calendar make 354 days – which is 11 days less than the solar CE year. To avoid a discrepancy with the solar year of 365 days, the Hindu year includes an extra month or Adhik Maas every 2 ½ to 3 years/ Thus, the calendar, though lunar, remains in consonance with the solar year in the long run. What exactly is an Adhik Maas and how is it calculated? It is a geophysical phenomenon, behind which there is an accurate calculation of lunar months and the solar year.
Every month, the sun enters a new zodiac sign – beginning with Mesha or Aries in March. Every month, it transits to the next sign on a given day.However, astronomical calculations indicate there are times when the sun enters a sign a few hours before the lunar month begins and leaves it after it has ended. This happens because the solar month spans 30 ½ days whereas the lunar month lasts only for 29 ½ days. Thus the lunar month during which the sun does not transit to a new sign, becomes the unanimously accepted extra month or Adhik Maas. Hence there are two months of the same name in the Hindu year every third year. To avoid confusion, the extra month is called Adhik and the original month is called Nija.
As the earth’s orbiting speed around the sun from April to September is less than average, the sun then remains for a greater length of time in each zodiac sign. Lunar months falling in this time-span – namely Chaitra, Vaishakh, Jyeshtha, Ashadh,Shravan, Bhadrapad and Ashwin – thus become Adhik Maas more often than other months.
This year, the Adhik Bhadrapad month begins on 18th August and ends on 16th September. The Nija Bhadrapad begins on 16th September and ends on 15th October. It is customary to observe this month as the Purushottam (Vishnu or Krishna) month and offer worship and devotion to the divine energy personified by Vishnu or Krishna. In all Krishna temples, there are huge events of worship and celebration. In this holy month, people fast on special days, perform religious prayers and worship Krishna on the seaside as the waves dance in joy. Meditation during this month is said to give excellent results and joy. People go on pilgrimages to holy rivers and visit Krishna temples all over India to pray for good harvests and prosperity.
Normally, since the Adhik Maas comes in the Monsoon, no weddings or religious events take place during these days. Even post-death ceremonies are not observed because the month is so powerful that no soul ‘dies’ during this month – such is the belief about this holy month which is also called Mala Maas dedicated to Purushottam or Krishna.
Did you know?
The Monsoons, or the seasonal rainfall in the Indian sub-continent, has been studied and recorded by weather experts for thousands of years. Because rain comes to India only in the three/four months of the Monsoon, it is vital to the prosperity/survival of the country. This dependence on rain has romanticized the Monsoons in Indian art and culture for millennia. A whole plethora of arts – music, poetry and literature, dance, painting, architecture and sculpture – centres around the theme of rains in India. It is the season of romance when lovers like Krishna and Radha meet under the dark clouds for their rendezvous under shared veils. Poetic masterpieces like Jayadeva’s Geet Govind have used the theme of the Monsoons to bring immortal poetic romance to life for centuries. Geet Govind was written in the 13th century In the reign of King Lakshmanasena of Bengal where poet Jayadeva was the court poet. Geet Govind is learnt by most dancers and musicians today. Jayadeva was one of most important poets of the Madhurabhakti path – meaning attainment of god through longing and love as between two lovers.
This path of love and devotion is also followed by Sufis who believe that ‘one has only to raise one’s own veil to see one’s beloved’ meaning, ignorance has to be discarded before one experiences divine grace. Rumi, a great Sufi, wrote a lovely line:
“If a drop of water can became an ocean by merging in the ocean, why should it want to be in a shell to be transformed into a pearl?”
Rains are very important for the economy of India and are certainly the most anticipated event of the year. The unique nature of the Monsoon rains are that the water-bearing cloud which covers India from June to September each year is said to be as big as the whole continent of Europe and it is blocked by the mighty Himalayas so that they drain their water content over India in these specific months. This applies to all countries of the Indian sub-continent and their economic well-being also depends on rainfall in this season. Thus the Monsoon is one of the happiest and most-awaited seasons of the Indian subcontinent. According to many weather experts, the Monsoons are described as ‘the real finance minister of India’.
Word Count: 1054