Adhik Maas

Theme (Relation): Hindu
Time: Any time in year, comes after every two years
Where: India and worldwide where Hindu lives
Also known as: The Blue Moon

Calendar “date” that we are so familiar with in our daily life is based on solar calendar. English calendar is a solar calendar. The basis for solar calendar is the rotation of the Earth around the Sun. It takes earth approximately 365 ¼ days to complete its rotation around the Sun. The English calendar that most of us use today divides the 365 days of earth’s period of rotation around the Sun in twelve months. The leap year, which occurs once every four years, accounts for ¼ day per year.

Similar to solar calendar lunar calendar is also popular and widely used in the Asian countries such as China, Pacific-rim countries, Middle East countries, and India. Lunar calendar, which is believed to have originated in India, has been around for a very long time, even long before the solar calendar.

The lunar calendar is based on the moon’s rotation around the Earth. The lunar month corresponds to one complete rotation of Moon around the Earth. Since this period of rotation of moon around the earth varies, the duration of lunar month also varies. On average, the lunar month has about 29 ½ days. In addition to moon’s rotation around the earth, the lunar year is based on earth’s rotation around the Sun. In general, the lunar year has twelve lunar months of approximately 354 days, thus making it shorter by about 11 days than the solar year. However, the lunar calendar accounts for this difference by adding an extra lunar month about once every 2½ years. This extra lunar month is known as the Adhik Maas in India (Adhik means extra and the Maas means month). The concept of placing of the extra month, meaning why and when it should be inserted between certain lunar months is as follow.

According to sidereal zodiac system Sun enters the first zodiac sign Aries (Mesh) on about April 15 of every year. And about 15th of every month Sun enters the next sidereal zodiac sign. For example, as we know, every year on Makar Sankranti the Sun enters the sidereal zodiac sign Capricorn on about January 14. While Sun remains in a zodiac sign for approximately one month, the Moon travels through all twelve-zodiac signs in about 27 ½ days. As a result, on average, once about every two and half years, the entry of the Moon in the same zodiac sign occurs twice while the Sun remains in the same sign. In other words, when the Sun is travelling through the same zodiac sign, the month during which two new moons occur, happens once about every 2-½ years. The lunar month corresponding to the period between these two new moons is treated as the extra month or the Adhik Mas. Thus, if the Adhik Maas occurs at the beginning of the lunar month Chaitra, then it’s called as Adhik Chaitra, and the following lunar month would be then the regular or Neej lunar month Chaitra.

The concept of the Adhik Maas (the extra month) is similar to the “Blue Moon” in the West, which occurs almost with the same frequency of 2 ½ years. Blue moon is the second full moon when two full moons occur in the same month. Naturally the blue moon must occur towards the end of month (some where between 29th, 30th, or 31st of the month).

Recall that the entry of Sun in a sidereal zodiac sign occurs around the middle of the calendar (solar) month (near 15th of the month), thus, sun stays in a sidereal zodiac sign from about 15th of a month to about 15th of the next month. Since for Adhik Mas to occur, two new moons must occur during when sun remains in the same zodiac sign. Consequently, those new moons must occur near 15th of the successive months. As a result, around the time of Adhik Mas, the successive full moons are very likely to occur near the beginning and the end of the same month. Indeed, the occurrence of the blue moon usually precedes the Adhik Maas.

Article by: Jagdish C. Mahshri (Boloji.com)

Anant Chaturthi

Theme (Relation): Hindu
Time: August-September
Where: India
Also known as: Anant Chaturdashi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganesh Chaturdashi 

Introduction
Anant Chaturthi (or Anant Chaturdashi) is the last day of the “Ganesh festival” celebrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. It is the tenth day after Ganesh Chaturthi which falls on the 14th day of the bright Bhadrapad (the sixth month of Hindu calendar). The day follows the immersion of the idols of the beloved Lord but to be welcomed the next year with equal fervour. Some people observe a vow in honour of Lord Vishnu, which if kept for 14 years is supposed to bring wealth.
 

Story of ‘Anant’
Hindu Mythology tells that, there was a Brahmin named Sumant. From his wife Diksha he had a daughter named Sushila. After the death of Diksha, Sumant married Karkash who was not caring to Sushila. She gave a lot of trouble to her. Sushila married to Kaundinya and decided to leave the house to avoid the nuisance of her step mother. On the way, Kaundinya went to a river to take bath and Sushila joined a women group who were worshipping “Anant”. Sushila was very curious to know the reason of worshipping. The women explained her, the purpose of this vow to obtain divinity and wealth, and are kept for 14 years.
 Sushila decided to take the “Anant Vow” and slowly they became very rich. One day Kaundinya, noticed a string (Anant string) on Sushila’s left hand. This string is usually tied on the left hand by women to observe the vow. When Kaundinya heard the story of the Anant vow, he was displeased and said that they had become rich, not for Anant but for his knowledge and efforts. He then took the Anant String from Sushila’s hand and threw it into the fire. Soon after this incident, they were reduced to extreme poverty. Kaundinya realized the effect of the Anant and hence decided to undergo rigorous penance until the appearance of the God himself. He went into the forest. There, he saw tree full of mangoes but was covered with worms. He asked the tree if he had seen Anant but he got a negative reply. Then he asked lakes, cow, donkey, elephant but nobody could respond him positively. At last he prepared a rope to hang himself. But suddenly Anant appeared in the form of an old Brahmin and advised Kaundinya that if he made the 14 years vow, he would get back all his wealth and happiness. Lord Anant also explained the incidents occurred during the course of his way to meet him. 

Festival ends…
On the day of Anant Chaturdashi, the idols of Lord Ganesha installed at home and various “Mandapams” (display place) are taken to a pond, lake, river or a sea in great procession with slogan: “Ganapati bappa morya, agle baras to jaldi aa” (“father Ganapati, come again next year”). On this day, people travel to the water front with the idols, big and small, dancing and singing in large procession. The 10 day long festival comes to an end after the immersion ceremony is over.