Modern, Yet Traditional Shravan: Lessons From Grandma

Posted: September 16, 2019

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The month of shravan brings with it the joy of festivals and fun. But what happens when a modern woman is unable to celebrate it? Grandma to the rescue!

The holy month of shravan in India brings a soothing monsoon breeze, lustrous landscape and prosperity to the entire subcontinent. Nature in its entirety celebrates the holy month and wears various shades of green flora, it plays with the roaring rivers and waterfalls.
This is the month considered to be extremely auspicious and all the states of the country celebrate it in different ways. Celebrating shravan  is a way of expressing gratitude toward nature and acknowledging the contribution of all components of life.

A look at traditions and rituals

Shravan brings a number of Hindu festivals with it. In the coastal region of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, shravan Poornima is celebrated as narali Poornima for pacifying the sea. The same day is, popularly celebrated as Raksha Bandhan. It celebrates the love between a brother and sister.

Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated in northern India, Gujarat and Maharashtra as it marks the birth of Lord Krishna. At the same time, Varamahalakshmi Vratam is an important day in the life of married Tamil women.

Fasting is an integral part of Indian festival celebration and shravan has many such occasions. Lord Shiva is worshipped during the entire month of shravan, especially on Mondays. Fasting on shravan Mondays is a ritual followed by a number of Hindu families.

What this festive time brings

Indian culture highly acknowledges presence of animals as an essential part of our day-to-day life. This season also acknowledges the contribution of these living creatures.

Snakes are worshipped on Naga Panchami, cows on Gramha Pooja in Odisha and bullocks are honoured on Pola.

The festivals and celebrations are so varied that listing all of them is almost impossible. Shravan for me, is a celebration of our possessions a celebration of what nature has given us! It is a season that gave me fond memories and also makes me feel extremely festive.

Shravan in the modern society

In the modern society, following tradition and observing rituals can be cumbersome.

Since childhood, I have been very inquisitive. I used to follow traditions only after understanding the purpose. The process ended in me being a scientist now.

Today, as a working mother, I find it extremely difficult to balance traditions, an overactive toddler and professional commitments.

Bacteria in their culture flasks dread shravan, as it calls for unnecessary contaminations. Contaminations that require me to work additional hours.

I keep wondering how my almost 3-year-old son will understand the Indian festivals if I can’t find time to celebrate any. It is a constant battle to follow the rituals I learnt without disturbing my life as a researcher.

This year, the battle was tougher. My job demanded more time than expected and this shravan started with a stressful atmosphere.

A modern but traditional grandmother!

My 83 year old maternal grandmother could sense my struggle from faraway. She has always been a source of inspiration for me, a hardworking, sensitive, strict and a very modern woman.

I recall her voice now, telling me to be traditionally modern. She always had an appropriate reason for having shravan as the holy month with many festivals and fasts.

I got a call from her when she told me, “Festivals are for celebration and not for showing off on your WhatsApp or Facebook. Beta, shravan is the month in monsoon which sees altering weather conditions which can lead to various infections.

Fasting will make sure that you eat optimum. Meeting people and discussions are key factors for the mental and emotional wellbeing of a human race. Heavy monsoon makes the meetings difficult,” she continued.

“Farmers are in the process of sowing seeds and need some time to relax too. So we have many festivals in shravan, but that was the case for the last few decades. With the changing world, the concept of shravan needs to be changed.

Why shravan needs to be celebrated

“Shravan should be celebrated with family whom we lose touch due to modern appliances. It should be marked with helping under privileged people. And it needs to be celebrated for preserving animals who are becoming extinct and for nature who is losing balance,” she said.

Then she added, “Essence of celebrating a festival is carrying the purpose of the festivals in your mind and preserving the faith as it will help you go through odds. The particular day and date are just to add discipline in our life. If you don’t have time to celebrate it on that particular day you can do it when you have time, probably over the weekend. Just make sure you understand why you are doing it. Your son can remember your actions but will probably never remember the exact time. He will remember something you did differently, not costly.”

I was truly overwhelmed by her reaction. I now understand being modern has nothing to do with your attire, mobile phones, friends and surrounding. It depends on your thoughts and how you perceive the surroundings.

I have never met a traditionally modern woman like her. And now, it’s my turn to observe shravan with faith, humility and a modern in approach.

Picture credits: YouTube

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