Moon Day 2019. Today is about history. Fifty years back on this day man stepped on the moon. The Apollo 11 Mission reached the moon from the US on July 20, 1969. If Americans have a reason to rejoice for being the first ones on the moon, for Indians the moon has a special significance too.
From the Vedas to astrology the moon takes centre stage in India
Indians have followed the moon calendar (Saka Calendar) long before the western standardised (Gregorian) calendar came into being, that follows the sun. Moon influenced us directly; the ebb and flow of the tide, the change of seasons, the approach of festivals, romance of ethereal, all these are decided according to the silvery path of the celestial body. Moon survives the undying journey between being swallowed by Rahu and released by Ketu to remain an eternal symbol of hope and prosperity in this land of myths and parables.
The Moon is a part of everyday Indian life
Love, romance and sexuality also fall under the moon’s reign. Let’s tell you how without even landing on the moon, we have managed to bring the moon down to earth.
Moon tells us about rain and festivals
When are the rivers most destructive? When’s the best time to sow or to reap? When is the right time to sow a certain crop? Native farmers always look up to the moon for such answers and never get disappointed. Could formations around the moon tell us when to expect the rains?
In moon calendars, New Year starts mostly during the spring when our tropical country is at its vibrant best. This not only helps the farmers, but also made taxation more tolerant and compassionate before colonial rule. And so, we celebrate the lunar New Year with harvest festivals like Pongal, Onam, Vaisakhi, Poila Boisakh and so on.
Religious festivals and the full moon
Most of these festivals, including Eid, occur on or around the sighting of the full moon. At the Kumbh the bath days are decided according to the moon. Therefore, full moon every month becomes important for Indians. Be it Guru Purnima or Magh Purnima, we have a festival for each full moon, sometimes even new moon, throughout the year, though the exact dates might vary in the Gregorian calendar. India follows the calendar of the moon called the Saka Calendar.
The importance of the moon in the Indian culture
Months of Phalguna, Kartik and Sravana holds a special celebration of love, tolerance and harmony with full moon as their one true witness. Phalguna holds the festival of colour and love known as Holi which has now spread all over the world through Indian diaspora. In Kartik comes the festival of Raas Yatra which celebrated ‘Free love’ as a contest long before Flower Revolution in the West. Karwa Chauth is celebrated only after the sighting of the moon. The month of Sravana brings the festival of Jhulan during the full moon. All these three festivals celebrate love not only as a personal pleasure, but also as significant component that makes up the universe: the consummation between consciousness and nature to initiate progress and creation. Kali Puja and Diwali are celebrated on Amavasya when the moon is in hiding.
The lunar beauty is a favourite of artists
Indian poets and artists have used the moon time and again to ornament their expression of love. Sometime to compare their lovers to it or maybe just a witness to their love. The Moon has been the standard of beauty forever. From the ancient poets to the modern-day Bollywood songs: it has always featured in songs, ballads and poetry about love and beauty.
The crescent has been personified sometimes as a graceful lady and sometimes as a hindrance to lovers’ escapades, but always as a companion when it comes to romance, whether literary or cinematic.
Our lives follow the celestial path
While the west has tried to conquer the moon, we have tried to win it. While they tried landing on it, we have managed to tie it down in our living rooms. We’ve personified it and circled our lives around it as the moon itself circles around the earth on a given path. We understand the nuanced interactions that the moon has with the earth. We let it set the rules. And, we follow the guidance given to us by our predecessors and it has never failed us. So, while the world celebrates moon day once a year, we celebrate it each month throughout the year.