SEPTEMPER, THE MONTH OF FESTIVALS

 SEPTEMPER, THE MONTH OF FESTIVALS

 As we come to the end of September, we looked back at the month in which much has happened in the world. But as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
 Nothing exemplifies this better than festivals. No matter who is in charge and who is in jail, no matter which team has won which championship, festivals come with clockwork regularity, do their thing, and go. In a world of constant chaos, the meditative atmosphere of a festival comes as welcome refreshment.
 This September, four festivals graced us. We began proceedings with Ganesh Chaturthi, which honours the birth of the elephant-god, Ganesha. He’s not only the symbol of prosperity and good tidings, but he’s also India’s favourite God. It’s impossible to walk through any street of any city in India without running into some form of art, craft or sculpture that is shaped in the form of Ganesha. His statues were paraded throughout crowded streets, people danced in delirium, and at the end of it all, they threw him amid chants and prayers into the ocean.
 Close on the heels of the elephant-god came Onam, the ten-day harvest festival that marks the homecoming of the mythical king Mahabali. It ushers in a period of equality and happiness, as it says in the song that is often sung during the festival: When Mahabali ruled the Earth, deaths of children were unheard of, there were no lies, no one cheated or wronged his neighbour, and the people formed one casteless race. Striking, vibrant colours, beautiful patterns of flowers, and much fun and frolic characterise Onam as one of India’s biggest festivals.
 And we ended the month with a start to the biggest festival of them all: Navratri. It’s a nine-day event celebrating the various forms of the Mother Goddess: Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. The festival culminates with Dussehra, where good claims victory over evil. In certain parts of the country, this is the day on which Lord Ram won his battle over Ravana, the demon-king. But in others, especially in West Bengal, Durga is said to win over Mahishasura.
 So we’ve been spoiled silly in September with three instances to remind us of the passage of time. With that happy, hopeful note we step over into the next month.
 Hello, October!

Harshit Sinha

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