The Western Gregorian calendar has a leap day every 4 years to reconcile the Earth’s rotation around the sun, but did you know that the Hindu calendar has a leap month? ‘Cause we’re cool like that…

Many Hindus celebrate Ugadi/Gudi Padwa today (or yesterday by some calculations), which marks the beginning of the Hindu/Vedic New Year. This year starts on the first day of the Hindu month Chaitra – which, interestingly, closely corresponds with the coming of Spring – when nature comes to life and things begin anew.

The Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar. It’s not purely a lunar calendar. Lunar calendars count months solely based on moon cycles. If you do the math (29-30 days multiplied by 12, yielding 340-360 days), you’ll see that if there were no adjustments made, there would be years when you could be celebrating Diwali in February!

In order to reconcile the lunar months with the Earth’s rotation around the sun, the Hindu calendar adds an extra month about every 3 years. This allows Hindu festivals and crop seasons to no fall too far off schedule.

The extra, or “leap”, month is called Adhik Maas. The next Adhik Maas is in 2018 (May 16 to June 13, 2018 to be exact).

Happy Ugadi/Gudi Padwa!


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