Two Holidays, One Week

Ah, another short week, of course! This week we are celebrating two holidays so it was another short work week. However, I did a lot of work from home, but was saved from the brutal commute. It’s really freakin’ hot here right now. The holidays are: 

1. Maha Shivaratri – महा शिवरात्रि

A Hindu festival celebrating the god Shiva, and Lord Shiva’s marriage to Parvati. An important component of the festival is fasting for twenty four hours. However, many people just eat “snack foods” on fast, like my family. I think we actually ate more food than normal, but the dishes were different. 

2. Shivaji Jayanti – शिवाजी जयंती

I think this is specific to Maharashtra and this is Shivaji’s birthday. I think he was a warrior and a creator of the Maratha state. Regardless, there is a lot of food involved. From a site: 

Shivaji Jayanti or the birthday of Shivaji Maharaj is celebrated on a majestic scale in Maharashtra. His parents Jijabai and Shahaji Bhonsle named him Shivaji after local Goddess Shivai. He was the creator of the Maratha nation and he was instrumental in uniting the Maratha chiefs of Mayal, Konkan and Desh regions. His military and civil administration was of greatest importance. Shivaji was successful in carving out a small kingdom by defeating the alien powers. Chhatrapati Shivaji is a hero not only for the people of Maharashtra but for those of India as well. On the occasion of Shivaji Jayanti several processions are taken out and people dress up like Shivaji and his associates. The birthday is celebrated on a huge scale and various programmes remembering the achievements of the great ruler are organized. 

We had a guest over a couple of nights ago who is from here, but has lived in the US since the 1980s. We were talking about Maha Shivaratri and he asked why people fast. “What is the logic?” he said. Everyone at the tabled shrugged. “Tradition” someone finally answered. I have always loved this about studying tradition, religion, and culture. There are so many thing in our own culture (as relatively young as it is to Hinduism and Ramayana traditions) that we scratch our head at. In the mean time, happy fasting! 

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