Malamas formerly known as Adhikmas is technically an extra month that occurs every three years falling between the months of February and October.
According to astrology, the Solar calendar has 365 days, 15 hours, 31 times and 30 cyclones and the Lunar one has 354 days, 22 hours, 1 time and 23 cyclones in a year. The Moon and the Sun do not have travel in same motion, one moves faster than the latter creating a difference of 10 days yearly. To accommodate this difference of thirty days in three years a month of Malamas occurs. This is also a month when there is no solar eclipse.
The months and years depend on the motion of the Sun and the Moon. According to the constellation, the solar month moves according to the speed of the sun and is of 30 days, while the lunar month moves according to the speed of the moon made of 27 days.
According to the Hindu Mythology, all the zodiac signs, constellations, months, etc each had their Guru, but Adhikmaas and he was condemned for the Guru’s absence in his life and termed as Malamas.
Saddened by the condemnation, Adhikmas sought refuge at Lord Vishnu and shared his sorrow. Learning about his sorrow, Lord Vishnu in the form of Krishna made him his disciple and booned him with the name Purushottammas. Purushottam, the Supreme Being, is Krishna’s one of many names.
Now that with Krishna’s blessing, Adhikmas is known as Purushottammas, people are encouraged to perform meditation and donation throughout, because all the good deeds done during this phase garners merit for himself and family. However, the auspicious rituals like Marriage, Shraddha, visiting temples, and organizing pujas are avoided in this month.
Also, newly married couples suffer separation in Malamas, because consummation and conceiving offspring during this period is prohibited due to its inauspiciousness.
Machhenarayan Mela and the Story behind
The only temple that sees people in hundreds during Malamas is Machhenarayan Temple in Kirtipur, eight kms southwest of Kathmandu. Devotees pour in to pay homage to Machhenarayan, the fish form of Lord Narayan/Bishnu and to wash away committed sins by knowing or unknowing.
The temple has an artistic entrance of a gold-plated Garuda, Bishnu’s stride. Machhenarayan as his name suggests is a four-foot-tall statue with the upper torso as human and lower as a fish depiction of Bishnu. He is represented with four hands, holding Sankha (the conch shell), Chakra (the discus), Gadha (the club) and Padma (the lotus). Machhenarayan also spelt as Matsyanarayan like in Sanskrit is the first of ten incarnations of Bishnu’s on Earth.
Bishnu, in the form of Matsya (fish), saved the world from Shiva’s great flood. Moreover, he had to save Manu and his wife Shatarupa who According to the Matsya Purana, were the first couple on Earth that would be instrumental in conceiving humans after Pralaya. Pralaya is the process of destruction of the universe that takes place at the end of each kalpa (age) and precedes a new creation.
A little fish swam into the hands of Manu (aka Satyavrata, the king of pre-ancient Dravida, while he was washing his hands in a river. It pleaded to save its life. Manu put the fish in a vessel, which it outgrew in seconds. He then moved it to a tank, a river and then finally to an ocean but to no avail. When Manu realized that it was no ordinary fish, it revealed itself to be Bishnu in the form of Macchenarayan. It warned him about a deluge that Shiva was planning for in the next seven days. The flood would take over the earth until everything was a single ocean. And the mare living at the bottom of the ocean would release a poisonous fire which will burn the whole universe.
Therefore, Macchenarayan instructed Manu to build an ark to save all medicinal herbs, varieties of seeds, Sapta Rishi (seven saints), Vasuki the serpent and every animal.
When the flood hit, Manu saved himself and all the living beings by tying his ark to the horn of the fish’s head who drove ark to the Himalayas where the human civilization began. Manu used Vasuki as a rope to tie the ark to the fish’s head (the fish-saviour was referred to as Prajapati).
Thus the story of Machhenarayan proclaims the protection and sanitation of all creatures including fish living in the water and the reservoir itself.