Adhik Maas (The extra month)

 Ms Vimla Patil, a well known personality, in the literary world is my neighbour, and I am happy to say my friend. She is very knowledgeable, and it is always a pleasure, to spend some time with her.

I got wiser last week as she enlightened me on the significance of the ‘Adhik Maas’

 The Adhik Maas comes once in ( more or less) 2 and a 1/2 years to achieve a balance between the Lunar months and  Solar months both of which govern the Hindu calendar.

 The solar year has 365 days whereas the lunar has less, because each month is roughly 29 and a 1/2 days only.

 To bring the two in sync, the Adhik maas (Extra month) is added to the year once in approx 2and 1/2 years.

This is the month when the moon is not near any stellar constellation (nakshatra) and the Sun has not entered any rashi or sign of zodiac.

Complicated as this is, it is easy to remember that the Adhik maas balances the lunar and solar calendars.

Also because the earth’s rotation around the sun is slightly slower during the months of July-October, the Addhik maas come in this period.

Shravan, Bhadrapad, Ashwin are the common Adhik Maas months.

 This year, (2004) the Adhik Maas (month) starts on July the 18th and ends on August the 15th .

This month is considered very auspicious and is especially dear to Lord Krishna’s heart.

Lord Krishna is my Ishta Devta, which means that: the Deity that appears to my mind when I pray, is ‘His’

 Vimla also told me the following story, connected with Adhik Maas:

Once upon a time, it so happened that all the 12 months of the year felt very burdened, by the sins committed by mankind.

The ‘12 months of he year’ went to Lord Krishna (Who is an Avataar of Lord Vishnu) and complained.

The 12 months begged the Lord to redeem them of this horrible weight (of sins).

Lord Vishnu blessed them and said: “I shall create an extra month to carry the burden.

This extra month (Adhik Maas) came to be known as ‘Mal Maas’: The ‘Unclean Month’.

 Naturally no festival would take place during this month.

‘Mal Maas’ also felt very sad and took his plight to Lord Krishna.

“Why me?” he cried.

Lord Krishna, was filled with compassion. He said “I bless you. Henceforth you will be named after me. You will be known as the Month of Purushottam.

(Purush means ‘man’ Uttam’ means ‘Great’

It refers to the High Being, who you may call ‘God’)

The Lord further stated: “Whosoever shall pray, fast, chant, sing…during the month of Purushottam, will be specially blessed, and get maximum recognition by me…

After I have narrated this story to you, wont you spend a little time in prayer, to lessen the burden of the ‘extra month’ and endear yourself to the Lord?

Follows a quote from: The book ‘Celebrations – Festive Days of India’ which was published by India Book House by Vimla Patil

“What exactly is an Adhik Maas or Khal Maas or Purushottam 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 trasits to the next sign on a given day. However, astronomical calculations indicate that 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 301/2   days whereas the lunar month lasts for only 291/2 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 original month is is Nija. As the earth’s orbitting 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 timespan – namely Chaitra to Ashwin – thus become Adhik Maas more often than other months.”This year, Vaishakha is the Adhik Maas according to the Hindu Calendar. Though this is the Lord’s month and many people fast or do religous ritials like bathing in holy rivers, there are usually no weddings etc in this month. It is also called Mala Maas.