Since the Hindu calendar is based on the lunar calendar, there is a difference of 11 days between the earth year and the lunar year. It is a fact that the solar year is made up of 365 days and about 06 minutes and the lunar year is made up of 354 days. Link

To adjust this difference Adhik Maas is added regularly. This is how Makar Sankranti (kite flying festival) is always on 14th January.

Since when has this practice been followed?

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    What makes you think that this practice was added at some point? – srinivasacarya dasa Nov 16 '14 at 23:15

First of all I am not sure what makes you think that this practice is 'added' at some point. There are references to adhika masa, also knows as Purusottama masa in parama purana as you can find here and other places on the internet.

Seems it is clear to you on why this is practiced but for the sake of completeness I am including it here from the above site:

The Lunar year consists of 12 lunar months each consisting of 30 tithis but this does not add up to 30 solar days since in the course of a lunar month a tithi will vary from about 19 hours to 26 hours with an average length of 23h 37m 28s. The lunar month would be 29.530589 days. Because the Lunar year is 360 tithis long, that is only 354.36 solar days long after only three years it would be about one month out of phase with the solar year. However to keep it in phase with the solar year, and thus with the seasons and religious observances, a leap month (adhika-masa) is introduced. The introduction of the adhika-masa is not artificial, but a natural occurrence (Metonic cycle) because about every third year there will be experienced the phenomena of two new Moons while the Sun transits through one Rasi. And since the lunar month is defined as the length of time between successive new Moons and that there can only be one Lunar month corresponding to a solar month, the extra lunar month becomes a leap month. Thus the solar and lunar years would continue to stay in phase perpetually, their difference never being more than about 22 days. In the first year they would be out of phase by 11 days, the second year out of phase by 22 days, the third year the leap month brings them back in phase, the fourth year out of phase by 11 days, etc.

Now what happens if this practice is not followed. The site also addresses this saying:

'If the Vedic Lunar year were not linked to the solar year then within only a few years there would be very noticeable differences in a change of seasons in relation to the calendar. By an accumulation of about 11 days per year it would not take long before a festival associated with the summer such as Krishna Janmastami would be observed in the spring when Gaura Purnima should be observed. That would be absurd'

So from the reference to Padma Purana and the consequences of not following it, it seems that this is natural part of Vedic calculations rather a later invention. Unless you cite proper references that it is added at a later time and how the consequences discussed above were dealt prior to it's introduction, the question of when it was introduced seems out of context.

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    Puranic=Vedic, so unless there is strong evidence/reason to believe it's a later addition I tend to think that there is no point in speculating that it's non-Vedic recent invention. – srinivasacarya dasa Nov 17 '14 at 17:11
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    What do you mean Puranic = Vedic? Beliefs and practices in the Vedic period were different in all sorts of ways than those in the Puranic period. It's because of Vyasa that, for example, people started to realize that Vishnu and Shiva were more important than Indra and Agni, because he was able to directly ask the gods for clarifications on things. And it's because of Vyasa that people learnt of the Yuga system. So the fact that something is mentioned in the Padma Purana doesn't necessarily indicate that people in the Dwapara Yuga and earlier knew about it. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 17 '14 at 17:33
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    Puranas are considred part of the Vedas so puranic times is also Vedic times. We can have a separate discussion on this if you want. Also Brahma knows who his Lord is even though some times we see he is also bewildered. So to say that there was a period where Vishnu is not known and Indra is considered supreme is confusing. It may be a portion of people didn't know. In the context of this question my intent is to provide the facts from Vedic scriptures if the op or anyone else has any impressions that this is a result of recent (non vedic intrusion into India) addition. – srinivasacarya dasa Nov 17 '14 at 18:43
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    Again I consider puranas as Vedic and there is ample evidence. Good topic for another discussion. Ask a question if you want. – srinivasacarya dasa Nov 17 '14 at 18:55
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    Sorry,Purans are Vedic. Jiva Goswami and Gopal Bhatta (from Sri vaishnava family and alter followed Sri Chaitanya Maha Prabhu) has elaborate text called tattva-sandarbha discussing this point. That's why I say it is good for another discussion. – srinivasacarya dasa Nov 17 '14 at 19:00

It was added with the creation of calendar on (432,000 X 4) years which is the time of Krutayug (which was first era on earth according to hindusm)

From GreatDreams.com:

The ancient Hindu seers have had a comprehensive study of time. The minute details covered by those fantastic minds in reckoning time is bewildering. The Hindu calender is based on the age of Bramha, the Creator. The life span of Creator Lord Bramha is 100 years. His age now is 51 years. Each day of Lord Bramha is designated by a Kalpa. Each Kalpa comprise of 14 Manus and each Manu consist of 71 Mahayuga. 1000 such Mahayugs completes Lord Bramha's 1 day. At present, we are in the 28th Mahayug.

and

Since the calender is based on the phases of the moon, the twelve as above take 354 days, 8 hours and 34.28 seconds. This creates a difference of 10 days, 21 hours and 35.16 seconds from the actual solar year (365 days, 6 hours, 9.54 seconds)

  • User @Mr_Green has credited the source for the second time on your answers, so please credit the site from where you copy the information, failing to do so will result in deletion of your answer. – Mr. Alien Jul 26 '14 at 18:44

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