Today is one of those super Saturdays. You have not one, but three reasons – and very different ones – to celebrate. Without much ado, let’s jump right in!
Today is a full moon day – don’t forget to watch the moon shining in all its glory tonight. What’s more, today is also a Blue Moon day. Yes, Blue Moons’ happen – its a scientific fact – and no the moon does not change colour! Uber-scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweets explain the phenomenon brilliantly.
At this moment, elderly men across South India, wearing the customary loose-fitting-Bermudas are regaling neighbours with stories of Halloween! The neighbours are looking bored and surreptitiously steal glances at their watches in the hope that the afternoon IPL match will come as their saviour. But Granddad has other plans – its still night-time in the US. He has three more hours to kill before the kids will be up and he can do a face-time call with them. He plans to have his neighbours riveted with more stories of his US escapades.
Let’s escape from this scene a bit – where did Halloween originate and what was it all about?
The festival is a carry-over from the Celts who at one time ruled most of Europe. As summer ended and the long winter began, they propitiated spirits, divined the future and lit huge bonfires.
Over time, the Roman Empire annexed most of the territory – as I am sure all of you would remember from your ardent reading of Asterix comics. Here’s a picture to rekindle your memory – from a site that calls itself the Asterix fandom (il like it!)
There’s one more thing we should be thankful to the Celts for – they gave us Gaelic Storm who delighted us with this gem from the movie Titanic.
American ingenuity has over time turned Halloween into a blockbuster retail event. Eight Billion dollars of spending (you heard that right!) is expected this year – amidst the pandemic. If you are a costume maker, a chocolate purveyor, work in the decorations or party business – this is prime time. Here’s NRF neatly laying out what they expect from the celebrations this year. It promises to help revive the economy a little and boost the fun quotient all around.
Time for us to leave Bermuda-clad-grandpas (and their troubled neighbours), Asterix and the Businessman behind and move on to the third reason for celebrating the day.
Valmiki Maharishi Jayanthi
Today is the birthday of one of India’s most revered Sages – Maharishi Valmiki. He is known as Adikavi – the first poet. He is credited for bringing the epic Sanskrit poem Ramayana into existence.
Incidentally, his birthday falls on the full moon night of the lunar month Ashwin – so it has a partial connect with our topic one.
Rama (the central figure of Ramayana) is worshipped as the epitome of leadership (bench-mark leadership is called Rama-Rajya). As a devoted student of leadership, I find it fascinating that this epic starts with Sage Valmiki asking Sage Narada about the most outstanding leader around. I found this excellent site where they have audio tracks of all the slots too. Here are the four questions Maharishi Valmiki puts to Narada leading to the unfolding of the Ramayana (extracted verbatim from the above site):
Who in this world lives today endowed with excellent qualities, prowess, righteousness, gratitude, truthfulness and firmness in his vows?
Who is that one gifted with good conduct, given to the wellbeing of all living creatures, learned in the lore (knowledge of all things that is known), capable of doing things which others can not do and singularly handsome?
Who (among men) is self-restrained? Who has conquered anger? Who is endowed with brilliance and free from envy? Who is that when excited to wrath, even the devatas, are afraid of (let alone foes)?
O Maharshi, I intend to hear about such a man whom you are able to place? Indeed great is my curiosity
Today, we have covered much ground. We discussed a blue moon, a full moon and a festival that brings joy to kids – and retailers! We also took a moment to remember one of the greatest epics ever recorded in human history. Would you agree we’ve covered a lot of ground? 🙂