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The bread festival

  1. 1. A. The Bread Festival Many traditional festivals are held in India actually forming a yearly cycle. This festival cycle begins with the Bread Festival which takes place in the month of March or April. This festival marks the end of the cold season. People now stop keeping cooked food overnight lest it goes bad the next morning. On the evening before the celebration of this festival the women cook wheat porridge sweetened with brown sugar. Food is set aside uneaten early the next morning. The women dress in their best clothes. They carry the porridge with some rice peas and water to the shrine of Girgaon-wali Mata. They bring the youngest children they chant as they march together. O Mata you gave us children now protect them from disease. They move on the shrine of Kainthi-wali Mata. This is the goddess of typhoid. The same ritual is repeated. Brown sugar and candy are distributed to the children. A man might bring a cock and hold it over the heads of the children making it flutter its wings. This is supposed to ensure the long life of the children. Sometimes the goddess is given sweets rather than porridge. This especially true if the pilgrimage is done to fulfill a promise to the goddess for the cure of a sick child or a successfulbirth or even a satisfactory marriage. B. The Lights Festival The festival of lights is popular all over India. It is one of the four main festivals of the village. On this festival day, the lamps are lit all over the village. Little earthen lamps line the tops of the houses. Others are placed on the carts yokes and other implements used by household. More lamps appear on the cattle sheds. Children place lamps on the shrines of all the gods and goddesses. Children enjoy this festival. By 9:00 p.m. everyone is at home to worship Lakshmi , the goddess of wealth. The head of the family puts money and ornaments in a big metal container. An empty dish is placed beside it. The head of the family places the two near large oil lamp. He says “Goddess Lakshmi” come to me once again during the coming year”.
  2. 2. The lights of the whole village are left burning all night. The doors are left open. Lakshmi is supposed to enter to bless the house. Each house is brilliant with lights. It is believed that Laksmi will not enter a poorly lighted house. C. The Swing Festival After the hot summer months, the monsoon rains come and the air is cool and everything is green. Millet has now been planted and the sugarcane cultivated. The villagers are in very good spirits because they can look forward to a good harvest. In the evening, before this festival, the young men go to the village common lands (land owned by the whole village) and look for trees on which to hang the swings. Some place marks on trees,while others keep watch all night to ward off rival fights which sometimes develop in this competition. Over the trees, the swings are set up very early in the morning; this can be early as 1:00 a.m. The swinging, however, does not begin until later in the day. The children start to use the swings early in the morning. The men are still working in the fields and the women are at home making cakes,rice puddings, and other festive dishes. At about noon, the men come all the women and the children put on their best clothes. Then they are off to the groves where the swings have been hung. They walk in family groups, they sing as they walk. The swings are made so that two women each sitting on a board one and a half feet long and five to six inches wide face each other. They place their feet on the opposite swing, two other women stand behind them and push the other group around singing songs toward evening at about 5:00 p.m. All women go home; the men and the children watch wrestling matches between young men. The matches are over by sunset. Everyone goes home to eat the meal proper for the festival.

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