It’s about time for another blog post and for the Monsoon to arrive!
Today, I woke up to singing which sounded like it was coming from the market down the street. Choruses of women with male voices complimenting in the background echoed in a still-unfamiliar language as a showered this morning. I don’t normally wake up to tradition Oriya music, but I might have to start. I began to think about what I would do if I heard such sounds outside my apartment in Washington DC or outside my parents’ house in Oklahoma. I would think it was strange for sure…people stopping their commute to sing a song to which they all knew the words? Doubtful.
In DC, it would most assuredly indicate a protest…probably outside one of the embassies along Massachusetts Avenue. In Tulsa, the only thing that comes to mind is a fall Friday night at the Bishop Kelley high school football stadium. We can hear the cheering from my front yard, if it’s a good game. There was one other time I heard group singing outside here. It was the last part of the funeral rite, with deep men’s voices and drums resounding right beneath our window.
But this chorus was different, and the whistle of the flutes signaled celebration in the air. Today is the Hindu festival of Raja Sankranti, a day dedicated to celebrating women—in which, from what I’ve gathered, a woman gets a new saree for the occasion, sits on swings adorned with flowers, and there is some sort of water dancing and music. Anyway, point being that the women of the household get this day off and are celebrated for the work they do in the home.
This holiday is separate from the widely-celebrated International Women’s Day (By the way, where is the USA on this front?! I’ve been wondering this since my first International Women’s Day, getting pinned with flowers in Delphi.)
Raja Sankranti is timed to welcome the long-awaited Monsoon—where we hope the days of 118 degrees Fahrenheit are behind us. (My one Monsoon experience in southern New Mexico wouldn’t exactly merit welcome to another one, but here the Monsoon is relief from heat and I will take all the relief mother earth wants to provide!)
Celebrating women? New clothes? Festival? I think I’m going to like this holiday.
You can read more about the religious roots and history of Raja Sankranti, if you’re interested.