Friday, a day for four religious occasions

March 20th, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) Chhoti Holi, Navroz, Good Friday and Eid-e-Milad - Hindus, Parsis and Iranis, Christians and Muslims, by a quirk of almanac, have all these religious observances on the same day, Friday. A festival of revelry and colourful mirth, Chhoti Holi is a build-up to the main festival that will be celebrated Saturday. Navroz, the first day of the Zoroastrian calendar, will be celebrated in a big way by the Iranis and Parsis.

A day for mourning, Good Friday will be observed by the Christians to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This will be followed by the Easter celebrations on Sunday.

Eid-e-Milad, observed by the Muslims, is the birth as well as the death anniversary of Prophet Mohammad.

“It’s nature’s way of bringing together different faiths,” observed human rights activist and regional secretary of the All India Christian Council Madhu Chandra.

“No matter what the religious fundamentalists do, nature has it’s own way of brining together different faiths. This is just an example of the Indian culture and the different faiths that it cradles in its lap,” Chandra told IANS.

So ,if Manjulika Sharma, a teacher in a primary school in south Delhi, is busy at her home frying gujiyas, a special sweet for Holi, Revaz Martin is busy cleaning her apartment in north Delhi before Navroz.

“Holi is a very joyful occasion. By smearing colour on someone’s face, you wipe out all feelings of hatred or misunderstanding. It would be wrong to say that it’s a Hindu festival because it is celebrated by all,” Sharma said.

“A typical feature of Holi is the variety of sweet savouries that are prepared on this occasion. Unlike yesteryears, today no one has the time to make a dozen varieties of sweets, but I make gujiya for sure. It’s a favourite with my kids,” she added.

Martin said that because of her hectic schedule as a swimming instructor at a sports academy, she had just half a day in hand to clean the house and prepare the delicacies which are the order for the day.

“It’s hectic. But then, it’s Navroz and that doesn’t happen everyday. I will be making Ravo, which is a mix of suji, milk, sugar and eggs and Patra-ni-Machchi or steamed fish, besides a whole lot of other dishes for the festivities,” Martin said.

While Holi and Navroz are occasions to celebrate, Good Friday and Eid-e-Milad are not really joyous occasions.

Annie Matthew, a resident of east Delhi, said that on Good Friday the family usually fasts or has a very simple meal in order to re-live the suffering which Christ did on this day.

“Most of us fast on Good Friday in order to mark the suffering of Jesus Christ. Those who can’t fast for some reason, have a very simple meal.”

“We also go to the church to pray and the service early in the morning. While during the rest of the year, I might not take my young children to the church, on this day I make sure that I do,” she said.

Raunaq Shirin said that Eid-e-Milad is not exactly a day of festivity.

“Eid-e-Milad is the birth as well as the death anniversary of the Prophet. Although it’s the third biggest Eid, after Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Zuha, it’s not exactly a day of celebration.” Shirin said.

“I, however, cook suji halwa in a big amount on this day, and we distribute it among our friends, relatives and neighbours,” she added.

Ramachandran Guha, noted anthropologist and sociologist, said nothing should be made out of the convergence of four religious observances on the same day.

“I might sound cynical buy really, nothing much should be made out of this co-incidence. The only thing that comes to my mind is that it’s a sad occasion for government officials who will get just one day holiday instead of four, for the four occasions!” he said.

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