Shiv Jayanti

On Wednesday, we walked around the town a bit and saw yet another festival. It’s like they have them every day here! From what I could gather, this was to celebrate the birth (I think “Jayanti” means “Birthday”) of the historical figure Shivaji Raje Bhosle who laid the foundations of the Maratha Empire, which I think Mumbai (where we are now) was part of. Shivaji was a Hindu, but he was respectful of other religions and was an all around cool guy (he opposed the prevailing practices of treating women as war booty, destruction of other religion’s monuments, slavery, and forced religious conversions) so his birthday is celebrated by pretty much everyone in India.

Buuuut, it seems there’s a bit of controversy about when exactly his birthday is. There used to be a bunch of different birth-dates observed so after 34 years (!) of deliberation and research, everyone more or less compromised and said it’s on February 19. Or, almost everyone. The Shiv Sena, a far-right Hindu nationalist party, insisted that his birthday be celebrated according to the Hindu calendar, which this year was on March 3.

Wow, and I thought American politics was complicated. But really, I think it’s just an excuse to throw another big party. Oh, also, they were passing out cakes with a yogurt topping on it and they were really yummy.

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