We are investigating…
January heralds the coming of the harvest festival across India.
In my household, we are all excited about the upcoming Sankranthi festival. From a food perspective, it involves bringing together, among other things, 5 tasty dry ingredients to form a crunchy mixture known as yellu. Yumm! Yumm! It also involves preparing an elaborate festive meal and eating till our stomachs burst.
But for all this festivity, it is important to know the date of the festival, right?
Doesn’t it fall on the same day each year, you ask? Predictable — like Christmas, right? December 25th each year, come rain or shine, or snow.
Nope, not for us such fixed policies. We are a flexible and adaptable lot. We also rely on the movements of our heavenly objects such as stars and planets. Therefore the date and time of festivals change due to interplanetary movements.
Yesterday, my mother-in-law (MIL) initiated the discussion about the menu. We usually split responsibility. She makes a dish or two and I make the rest. I asked her the most pertinent question. Is the festival on the 14th or 15th? This has no bearing on the menu, but hey, one has got to plan.
A simple question. But she was thrown. She said 14th. I said 15th. She went away to consult her trusted sister-in-law who is usually in the know about such festival matters.
Meanwhile, I decided to ask my trusted gang of pious friends. I posed the question on the pious girls WhatsApp group.
I got an answer almost in seconds. 15th it said. Yay! Just as I was getting ready to tell my MIL and gloat about how I was right, someone piped up and said that Tamilians are celebrating the festival on the 14th. What? It was my turn to be thrown. Who am I? The old identity crisis reared its confused head. Am I a tamilian or am I a kannadiga? Should I celebrate Pongal on the 14th or Sankranthi on the 15th? Arrgh!
Meanwhile, my husband and daughter decided to run their own investigation. We’ve been watching Elementary on Amazon Prime. We are all about collecting data and deducing stuff.
My husband brought out the Panchanga. The panchanga is an amazing Hindu almanac that we buy at the beginning of each year. It has tons of information and calculations and such like. My dad and mom used to know how to read it. Being able to decipher all the coded messages in the panchanga is an art. Sadly, I never learned from my parents or anyone else.
My brave husband was now trying to decipher it. He started stringing together the Kannada letters to form words and derive meaning from them. I was inspired and burst into song, and got yelled at. He was trying to concentrate, and here I was, a Menaka to his Vishwamitra. He lost track of what he had just strung together and he could not read a single word. I stopped singing.
Meanwhile, the daughter was asking a few billion questions while trying to make sense of the panchanga. We could not help her since we did not know much ourselves. The conversation took a turn to astrology and how she had tried to understand Vedic astrology but could not. I had bought her a book about it. But the book didn’t help at all. While we tried to explain what little we knew about the panchanga and Vedic astrology, she threw in a new term — draconic astrology. She said she had read a bit and there are similarities between Vedic and draconic astrology. Hmm! New learning. I must read up at least a little bit about this thing.
About an hour into the whole debate, we have lots of data in our head but are no closer to divining the date of the Sankranthi festival. Is it on the 14th or 15th?
At that point, new evidence arrived on the trusted WhatsApp group. Someone had posted very pertinent information. The Government-declared holiday for the festival is on the 15th. Can the government be wrong?
There it is, then! Problem solved, case dismissed. Sankranthi 2022 is on 15th Jan. No more arguments, please!
Come over for a sumptuous festival lunch on Jan 15th, 2022!