FAITHLINE: Indian August is full of fun – The mood was joyful and celebratory. In the throng, Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus freely mixed. I observed women purchasing sets of tri-colored bangles and dupattas while wearing burkas.
FAITHLINE: Indian August is full of fun
By Renuka Narayanan
In India, August is frequently an exciting and festive month. Of course, Independence Day is the largest celebration, and this year it falls over a long weekend. Delhi, India’s Walled City, observes it in distinctive ways.
One year, I received an invitation to visit from a maulana friend who lives there. We hopped onto a cycle rickshaw and made our way carefully down the well-lit alleyways.
The mood was joyful and celebratory. In the throng, Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus freely mixed. I observed women purchasing sets of tri-colored bangles and dupattas while wearing burkas.
At the revered Gauri-Shankar temple, music could be heard, and shabad kirtan could be heard coming from Gurdwara Shish Ganj, the site of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s martyrdom. We joined the joyful crowd that was enjoying sweets and samosas.
Being with fellow Americans who were all celebrating Independence Day was an awesome experience. Going back home that evening to the dull tranquilly of my own neighbourhood, which I normally like, felt a little flat.
Raksha Bandhan, also known as Rakhi, is a significant August event that people eagerly anticipate. I understand that the asterism Dhanishta rises during the lunar month of Shravan, which is when Raksha Bandhan takes place.
In Indian astronomy and astrology, Dhanishta is the twenty-third of the twenty-seven nakshatra, or lunar asterisms. The day of Raksha Bandhan is referred to as “Avani Avittam” in Tamil Nadu since Shravan is referred to as “Avani” and Dhanishta as “Avittam” in Tamil.
Rakhis of various colours are all over the stores and online. The rage is to package the two together and deliver “Mithai aur rakhi” or “sweets and rakhis” to distant brothers.
Being sensitive Indians, it is difficult to not be captivated by the new, intensely emotive advertising that are currently on the market for rakhis. When men and boys pass by with proudly decorated wrists, the streets appear to be quite colourful.
Although Raksha Bandhan originated in North India, I believe it has a universal appeal that transcends geographical boundaries and extends to include friends, elders, and anybody who is a dependable support in one’s life, regardless of religion.
Janmashtami is a beautiful celebration that takes place in August. The joy that surrounds it flows through one like delicious whiskey. I was required to perform the song “Mangaiyargal Yamunaithanil” as a youngster, which tells the story of the gopis enjoying themselves in the river before facing their moment of truth.
But have you visited a sizable temple and experienced the positive aura of Janmashtami? When I visited one of these temples in Delhi one year, it felt like entering a party.
Young men were playing drums both traditionally and more recently in a group known as a “bhajan band.” As soon as the crowd entered, they began dancing to repeated cries of “Hari bol!” People joyfully sang and danced to celebrate the arrival of the Lord, and their sincere pleasure was lovely to observe.
When people simply stand up and dance in a burst of ecstasy for God at Namasamkirtanam or devotional performances in South India, I have witnessed this.
I’ve heard that devotees at the Vithoba (Krishna) temple in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, on the banks of the river Chandrabhaga, think that the Lord dances in their midst.
Namdev kirtan kari, premabhare naatse Panduranga (‘When Namdev sings, Krishna dances with love’) is a Marathi abhang by Saint Namdev.
Without mentioning Mathura, the city where Sri Krishna was born, we cannot discuss Janmashtami. The Banke Bihari temple is the spot I go to the most.
Prior to the epidemic, the workday was the ideal time to visit because the weekends brought a dense concentration of believers to the area’s tiny access routes.
They originated in Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Delhi. If you visit on Janmashtami, be prepared to get crushed flat. I was there when Holi was celebrated, and if you were a free-floating particle, the joy was much greater.
The Banke Bihari temple is transformed into a “monsoon mahal” during the holy month of Shravan. The pleasant aroma of jasmine and tuberose greets visitors as they enter.
In comparison to some of the stern Shiva temples I have seen, it is quite the opposite. But as they say, “Shiva loves cleansing, and Vishnu loves adornment,” abhisheka priyo Shiva, alankara priyo Vishnu.
Ganesh Chaturthi, which falls on the last day of the month, is a festival I don’t connect with unrest on the streets but rather with fun childhood traditions like constructing a painted cardboard umbrella for the clay statue we brought home and, of course, eating modaks.
We are instructed to think of Sri Ganesha as an honourable and kind influence in our life. He is a particular kind of deity for kids, and his parents adore him: “Shiva prema pindam bhaje vakratundam,” which translates to “Hail the lord with the broken tusk, who is Shiva’s sweetheart.”
In conclusion, there is much to appreciate and celebrate this month due to a number of favourable calendar highs.
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