The twelve months result from the moon having twelve cycles (full to new and back) in a single solar cycle (aka year). The vedic calendar is dual, one is solar and one is lunar. The lunar calendar is for rituals and religion – so it is much more familiar to us who are mainly connected to India via our religion.
The solar months are named after the weather characteristic of them. The lunar months are named (loosely) after the star in whose vicinity the Moon becomes full during that month. One of the 27 stars is named Krittika – and the month Kartika is the month named for the full moon being near that star.
Vaishnavas have a second set of names for the lunar months – each named after a different aspect of Krishna. Vaishnavas therefore also refer to the kartikka month as “Damodara month.”
Two stars after Krittika in the heavens is the star named Mrigashirsha. The month in which the Moon comes full near Mrigashirsha is called Margashirsha. This month is famous because Krishna identifies it as representing him (see Gita, chapter 10). The reason is that the harvest occurs at this time. Just as everything comes from God, so we get everything from Margashirsha masa – we harvest.
Seasons are more connected to the solar calendar – though Vedic scriptures also identify theoretical seasons for the lunar calendar – mostly as a theoretical construct. In any case, the practical seasons are connected to the weather, and thus the solar calendar. Weather is specific to locale, so not every place will have identical seasons. But in India, especially thousands of years ago, there were six clear-cut seasons. Each one was exactly two months long. The vernal equinox anchored the MIDPOINT of spring, the autumnal equinox anchored the MIDPOINT of autumn, and the cold and hot seasons were split into two distinct halves by the winter and summer solstices. The distinction between the hot seasons is that the first was really hot, and the second was stormy and rainy. The distinction between the cold seasons is that the first was chilly, and the second became bitter cold.
Krishna says (again in Gita, chapter 10) that the spring best represents him among the seasons. It is called the “season of flowers.” There are a few reasons I can think of. 1) Krishna is so attractive, like flowers. 2) Krishna is the independent source of everything, producing without need for an ontological partner – so is a flower. 3) Spring is just such a relief 🙂
Jai Radhe Shyama
– Vic DiCara