The festive season is already under way. Navratri (here Sharad Navratri) ended last night. My family folk celebrate two Navratri, one is before Dushera one is around Ram Navmi just around summer. Its a big kick start and almost a welcome to the best of seasons, seasonal fruits vegetables and delicacy after long grumbling summer and non stop torrential rains. Navratri – Dusshera, Diwali all bring special seasonal delicacies on the plate (here table), celebration of food and family. My take of festivities and what it could have been with respect to food, folklore and cultural significance. It is literally time to soak up the sun without worrying for tan or sun burns.
The root and celebration of fire and food.
Hunger is one of the basic needs. I guess almost all festival across cultures (not religions, cultures) celebrate food and life. I guess India being a agrarian and rural country, much of celebrations takes place when crops are harvested or sown. I guess, the moon phases and astrology/astronomy and the movements of the Sun the earliest clocks set the tone. The observations of movements of the stars and planets, constellations in different directions around sun set or sun rise, or with respect to other constellations would have triggered a change of seasons and its impact. Moon phases etc would have dictated the beneficial time to till the land, sow the seeds for crops, rear animals, harvest etc. It seems obvious now, but is you were to rewind back to a millenia, things were less obvious perhaps. I have a feeling that myths, stories and epics were woven around these celestial, meta-physical, historic, cultural, geographic, creative phenomenon to keep direction in terms of duties and obligations of an individual to a society, an attempt to weave people together to make sure, progress in sociology-economic sphere is possible. It is what I imagine, not really sure how it happened, if it did at all.
Anyways turn to the present.
The season between Diwali and Holi, official know as winters to other being living outside the Metropolis of Mumbai. It is the best season to move around, meet people, visit places and eat some fine delicacies. I have always had fond memories, of hot food and long walks on chilling evenings and occasional chocolate ice cream cone (other flavors welcome too). The festivities, now give opportunity to have a perspective in life and give and take earn and buy, meet family and friends. Its abut finding perspective in life of right and wrong, try to find an escape route from the rat race. It may also provide us the opportunity to appreciate other fellow human beings and hopefully acknowledge that ours life is not as bad as we project it to the surroundings. A little charity perhaps for others for whom food, clothing and shelter is privilege while life demands barters of sweat and blood for few peaceful breaths.
There is a confession though, rigorous cycle of home, family, demnds/wishes, office, expectation, competion, earnings, little more wants are hard to break free from.
The folklore and cultural significance.
I dont know how deep rooted the effects of culture our. I guess since it have dictate other terms of what we call life, it prevails. Indian society being diverse, each of them contributed to epics and ethics, most of which were passed down from Guru (spiritual guide) to shishya (spiritual aspirant) verbally for generations (it still happens) before it was coded in written form. There are many stories and mythics, perhaps historic perhaps imaginative. The narrative tough remains as true today as it was when it was narrated for the first time. Its the message that good will always prevail. Its perhaps hint that life is daily struggle and if conscience is adhered to, lot of stress and dismay can be avoided. It is a belief that all that is tough, daunting and intimidating can be over come with humility, simplicity, determination. It is amalgamation of so many things. Ram and Ravana, two opposite extremes in every aspects,in terms of personalities, beliefs, abilities, mindsets, values.
I think the debates between Ramayana and other cultural beliefs being historic or mythic is a futile one. The message is more important. Whats society without spiritual beliefs?There is no point debating virtues, extent and limits of cultural/religious text. It just a reference point to good and bad. The choice is compulsive more often than not. Its about shouldering responsibility and trying to fulfill few obligations. Its about keeping balance in life.