Arudra darisanam is a small festival celebrated in the south of India, in Tamil Nadu especially. Though I do not know much about its significance, I do know that it is an important day for Lord Shiva and, more relevant to me, on this day people make kootu and kazhi. Kootu is a spicy curry made of a sundry veggies, and Kazhi is a sweet preparation. Being Vaishnavites, we do not actually do any special pooja on this day. However, my mom usually makes the kootu and kazhi. And foodies that my brother and myself are, we simply love this festival for that alone.
Every year, till before my marriage, I would look forward to having these delicacies on this day. Last year was the first time I attempted it on my own, and I should say they turned out decently good. This year however, no such luck. I miss my paternal aunt at this moment. She used to stay with me till a couple of months ago. She was a very religious person, so would be well informed of all the days of religious importance that were lined up in an month. She would alert me a couple of days beforehand that, “Mini, Tuesday it is Uthana Dwadasi’, or “Mangala Gowri starts from this day,” and so on. So I used to be well prepared for all these poojas. Thanks to her, last year, I did all the poojas perfectly like a traditional, ‘chamathu’, madhwa bahiko (woman). Now she has gone back to Mumbai, and here on I must remember to keep track of all the poojas.
I went to bath after completing my kitchen work. As I poured the hot water on myself, my mind wandered to the significance of Arudra Darisanam. I know Arudra means pole star. So does this mean this is the day when pole star is visible? It can’t be, for pole star is visible throughout the year. However, when I later Googled, I found that on this day, a full moon day, the night is the longest in a year. So the festival does have some scientific significance too. I sat back thinking, most of our regious festivals do have scientific significance, but the rationale behind them has got lost over the hundreds of centuries. The rites we perform and rituals we observe today, are the last updated versions of scientific knowledge of our ancestors, dated many centuries ago. It is as if after this version, some curse befell our gyana and we stopped updating our knowledge. We just got stagnated at that point. Probably some short tempered sage got pissed off and cursed the humanity of this sub-continent? And today, we are trying to find scientific explanations for our own rites and rituals, based on what the western civilizations thrust upon us as science, forgetting in the process that what they are giving us is only ‘processed science’ – like processed food. Our original science, taken and processed and given back to us.
Is there anything we can do about it now? I do not know. Maybe the learned souls of this country can tell me. For now, I shake myself out of my random thoughts. My son has started wailing, and it doesn’t take any science, raw or processed, to tell me that it is time to attend to him.