Yesterday afternoon the Election Commissioner of India gave a talk at the law school. This morning the polls opened in Nepal. The Olympic torch is in San Francisco and the Chinese continue to degrade the people and culture of Tibet. And what is it now, two weeks to the Democratic primary in Philadelphia? Here in Maharashstra, thankfully, the hot-headed and narrow-minded Hindu nativists–who a few weeks ago attacked North Indian cab drivers in Mumbai and caused a massive migration of workers back North–have been cooling their heels.
This past weekend Pune celebrated Gudi Padwa, the new year here in Maharashtra, the first day of the Chaitra month of the Hindu lunar calendar, Shalivahan. It is said that this is the day that Lord Brahma created the universe. And that on this day began the age of truth and justice, Satyuga. The new year marks the coming of spring, and the Gudi—a pole with a brass or silver vessel placed on the top, decked out with fronds of silk, neem and mango leaves, marigold flowers and coconuts—hangs from balconies all over the city to symbolize the bounty of nature, as well as to celebrate Rama’s victory on returning to Ayodyha after slaying Ravan. The empty vessel, or loti, overturned on the top of the pole, some say, represents the empty ego and serves as a reminder to look within. Gudi Padwa is an auspicious day, and people buy new items for the household, like the man we saw walking down the street with a new mixer, or perform house-warming poojas. Too, the Gudi wards off evil and invites prosperity and good luck for families and households.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that, according to a piece in the Times, the “auspicious occasion of Gudi Padwa is also the time for the sale of two wheelers.” It turns out one can have a two wheeler delivered on the new year and not only satisfy one’s desire for the newest model and improved technology but also receive the special touch of blessing one’s newest form of transportation. “Preferred by several womenfolk during the auspicious occasion to start a new journey,” the author of the newspaper item goes on to say, one can choose from the wide range of Hero Honda colors and models, including the CBZ, Splendor, CD100, CD100ss, Street Smart, and Passion.
Auspicious, as you probably already know, is one of those fancy adult words that means here a promise of success or good fortune.