# Day 156 (A fast and its moon)


It’s an activity nearly every North Indian is used to from childhood…looking out for the moonrise on ‘Karva-chauth’ so that all the fasting women in the house can break the fast and a feast of traditional preparations can follow. As a part of the semi-nomadic life of an army family one got to see it in different regions of the country. There was always a lot of talk about which part of the house it would be visible from, what time would it rise and an undercurrent of excitement about who would manage to spot it first. Everyone had stories to share about some interesting experience of ‘moon-sighting’ in some particular year. Some would talk about how it rises really late in some regions and the hunger pangs have to be endured that much longer. My mother would tell us how when they were stationed in the Nilgiri hills where it rains very often, they never managed to see it till eleven at night due to the heavy cloud cover. Incidentally, i have here my own story of seeing it once from the window of a moving train since we were travelling on that particular day!
For obvious reasons it’s always the menfolk and children who go around ‘moon-hunting’~walking up and down the lanes, circling the garden around the house or even climbing up to the rooftops straining their eyes staring at the horizon. If only the moon could feel that collective gaze of hungry souls waiting for it to appear on the horizon! When the skies are clear it makes a majestic appearance imbued with an orange-reddish glow as it rapidly ascends over the horizon. As a child this colour of the ‘karva-chauth’ moon used to be quite fascinating, it being so different from the silvery moon one saw on other days…almost as if it took on a special festive colour to receive the ceremonial veneration being offered to it. Much later i read somewhere that the moon is actually orange in the fall season in many parts of the world~ one joke being that it is so because it is celebrating Halloween! The more prosaic and scientific explanation of course is that the colour is due to the scattering of light in the atmosphere.The large orange moon at this time of the year has two reasons—the moon’s path across the sky and the climate of the earth at this time. Depending upon the time of the year, the moon rises and sets at different angles and during this season it is lower in the sky. Also in some months, the amount of dust particles or cloud particles are more than usual and this affects the scattering of light and hence the colour of the moon.The monsoon or ‘kharif’ crops are generally harvested around this time and a lot of dust from the disturbed soil of the crops floats in the atmosphere. And so a low moon and the harvest dust combine to give us that orange-red ‘Karva-chauth’ moon!
Unfortunately there was no orange-red moon to be seen tonight~the thick smog around the city and the bright neon lights being the cause. All one could make out was a shadowy globe through the polluting haze to which one offered obeisance before breaking the fast. Meanwhile the kids were running up and down the stairs of the apartment-tower shouting and calling out to their mothers to come out for ‘the moon is here!!’ Thankfully some life-excitements remain…



About sunsur81

A gatherer of thoughts...exploring myths,metaphors and expressions of life...
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