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Extra month in Hindu Calendar

Generally we keep hearing the word Adhika Masam once in every two/three years. In our Lunar calendar we have only 12 months starting from Chaithra Masam and ending with Phalguna Maasam. Similarly; in a Solar calendar starting from Mesha Masam to Meena Masam and in a civil calendar January to December.

When such is the case, what is this Adhika Masam, why is it, what is its significance, when does it occur? Let us try to understand its concept, significance and technicalities.

WHAT IS ADHIKA MAASAM? WHAT IS ITS CONCEPT?

Literally Adhika means additional, extra and Masa means a month. Adhika Maasa means an extra month. We would have observed that in Western Calendar there is a concept called Leap Year which occurs once in every four years when we find an extra day is added to the month of February and that calendar year will have 366 days instead of regular 365 days.

Something similar to that, we find in Hindu Almanac a (time) compensation of one month is made to adjust the time movement and to make necessary corrections to the calendars we follow. This is something in vogue and followed in Hindu religion since time immemorial initiated by our ancient seers with their vision and forethought.

Generally we find only one new moon (Amavasya) and one full moon (Pournami) in a Luni – Solar month. If in any Solar month two new moons occurs (which normally does not), then both the Lunar months will have to be reckoned.
When there are two new moons one at the commencement and other at the end of a Solar month then two lunar months would be originating in the same solar month. Both the Lunar months will have to bear the same name.

Then the Lunar month that begins from the first new moon is deemed as an extra month. This is called Adhika Masa or Malamasa. The Lunar month beginning from the second New Moon is called as the real or pure and is referred to as Nija Masa or Suddha Masa with both the months bearing the same name.

Precisely, an Adhika Maasam occurs when there are two New Moons in a Solar Month and there will be no Sun’s transit or Sankramana in that Lunar month. In such a situation we find Sun transit or Sankramana happening just before and just after the Adhika Maasam.

A Lunar month with no Sun transit or Sankramana is referred to as Adhika Maasam or Mala Maasam. In other words an Adhika Maasam is a Lunar month during which there will be no Surya Sankramana or solar transit. Therefore, when Adhika maasam occurs, Sun’s stay in a particular zodiac sign will be slightly longer than the duration of that Lunar month.

Sun and Moon are called Luminaries which are visible in our day to day life. Their phases viz… Full Moon (Pournami) and New Moon (Amavasya) helped our ancient seers to establish a suitable time division of Lunar Month on which our religious calendar (Almanac) is based.

Lunar month commonly observed in our Lunar Calendar is known as Amaanta starting from the end moment of New Moon (Amavasya) to the end moment of the next New Moon. A Lunar month is a period starting from Sukla Prathama (Paadyami) and ending with Krishna (Bahula) Amavasya. Similarly another noticeable feature was the occurrence and recurrence of seasons known as Ruthus.

These phenomena made our seers to notice the obvious movement of the Luminaries on a clear cut path known as zodiac that is divided into twelve signs or Raasis. Movement of Sun from one sign to the other in the zodiac is reckoned as Sankranthi or Sankramana. The period between two Sankrantis (transit of Sun from one sign or raasi to the other) is taken as Soura or a Solar month. One complete cycle of Sun around the zodiac starting from Aries and ending with Pisces is known as a Solar year.

Since Vedic times our ancient seers are perhaps the pioneers to combine successfully the solar calendar into the lunar one and take it as a Luni – solar calendar so that it can be used for both religious/spiritual and social purposes.

TECHNICALITIES OF ADHIKA MAASA.

It was found by our ancient seers that a Lunar month will have a duration of 29 days 12 hours and 44 minutes that add up to 354 days and 9 hours in a year, falling short of the solar year of 365 days by about 11 days (approx). Accumulation of this difference of more than 30 days in a span of three years results in sliding of a Lunar month in relation to solar calendar. Such progressive recession of Lunar months leads to disparity in the celebration of festivals and the seasons they occur which are dependent on Solar Calendar.

Therefore in order to synchronize the Lunar months with Luni-Solar calendar and to keep pace with the seasons, our ancient seers have formulated a concept or technique of restraining Lunar months and devised an inter-calary month for the Lunar Calendar.

Thus, as and when there is an accumulation of recession by about 30 days, a Lunar month is added to the year. This extra month known as Adhika Masam occurs at regular intervals of 32 or 33 solar months to maintain the balance between Solar and Lunar Calendars.

Though theoretically occurrence of Adhika Masam as per its arithmetic is assumed as once in every 32 or 33 months, in practice, its incidence before or later than the scheduled time cannot be ruled out. This is due to the variations in the velocity of the movement of Sun and Moon across the zodiac which keeps fluctuating. Thus it can be seen that an inter-calary month (Adhika Masa) occurs once in two/three years in the normal course.

WHAT IS KSHAYA MAASA?

In the process of synchronization between Lunar and Solar calendars there is also a possibility of adding more months over a longer period of time. Under this concept it is said that for 1920 solar months, 60 Adhika Masas will be added when 59 would be adequate.

Hence, in order to bring in further refinement and to suppress this excess Adhika masas our ancient seers have also devised a concept wherein one month is reduced or dropped in the Lunar Calendar by ignoring the count of Lunar month at appropriate intervals.

This concept of reduction or dropping of a Lunar month is known as Kshaya Masam where, in such an eventuality there will be no new Moon (Amavasya) in a particular solar month. Sun’s stay in a particular raasi or sign will be less than the duration of a Lunar month and it results in two Sankramanas or Solar transits taking place in a particular lunar month.

It is said that Kshaya Masa occurs generally once in 141 years and again after 19 years. It doesn’t occur at short intervals of time. Generally Kshaya Masa occurs in one of the Lunar months of Kartika, Margasira and Pushya Masa. In the year when Kshaya Masa occurs there will be two Adhika Masas, one before and the other after the Kshaya Masam.

Generally, Adhika Masa occurs in the period from Chaithra to Aaswayuja the first seven months of the Hindu Lunar Calendar. Last time Adhika maasa occurred in the year 2012 and it was Adhika Bhaadrapada.

In the current year 2015 it is going to be Aashaada Maasa starting from 17.06.2015.

ADHIKA AASHAADA MAASAM – 17.06.2015 to 15.07.2015

MITHINA SANKRAMANA – 15.06.2015

KARKATAKA SANKRAMANA – 17.07.2015

TWO NEW MOON DAYS (Amavasya) IN A SOLAR MONTH –
(16.06.2015 & 15.07.2015)
Sri Krishnaarpanamasthu

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