What’s the big deal about Shravan?
Image via WikipediaThe Holy month of Shravan
Shravan or Sawan is the 5th month of the Hindu calendar.
This may sound strange to those who are familiar with just the one calendar- the Gregorian beginning with January and ending with December.
But there are other calendars as well : the Hindu one, the Muslim one, the Parsi one, the Jewish one.
I first realised there was a Hindu calendar when my mother made different food for herself on Tuesdays ( dedicated to Lord Ganesh) and Saturdays (dedicated to the Lord of Saturn). These were the days she used to fast and tea time meant yummy stuff completely laden with fat and calories…..But I’m not complaining. I used to love the smell of pure ghee that permeated the house as the saboodana khichadi was cooking or the wadas were being fried especially when we came wet and drenched from school……While my mother often let her fasts lapse during the rest of the year, she was particularly strict during the month of Shravan. Click To Tweet
Because Shravan is the holiest month of the year where a practicing Hindu observes many fasts and rituals.
Maharashtrian mothers in particular observe a Friday fast for their children in the month of Shravan and we used to get special treats on Friday like Puran Poli , Shreekhand or Basundi.
Another ritual was the ladies lunch on Friday where my mum would invite her married friends to lunch.
But there are many other rituals and customs that others practice and in order to get into the mood of austerities, the dark night before the month of Shravan begins, people celebrate in revelry and often land up drunk and in the gutter. Hence the name “gatari amavasya”.
The Dark Night of the Gutte
It was several years later before I realised that the day before Shravan is known as ” Gatari Amavasya” literally translated as “the dark night of the gutter” so called because it is the one day of reckless inebriation where people let their hair down drinking their way to the gutter before the onset of a month of austerity that Shravan calls for.
Naturally, this festival wasn’t celebrated in my home and it remained one of those days just marked on the calendar. However, one year we decided to actually celebrate this day and see how far we could go with the booze.
After dinner when all of us were in a mellow mood, we brought out a bottle of Sula red: a deep merlot called Satori . We poured generous amounts in each glass, promising ourselves that we would not only go through the whole bottle ( between the four of us) but also open the second and maybe third……
But after one glass our celebrations were called off as the girls remembered they had to go to work the next day.
Definitely, this is one day that will not be celebrated on my calendar again.
Do you believe in getting drunk to celebrate? Do let me know in the comments below.
Ciao and Happy Shravan