Yesterday 7th April was a full moon night. When my daughter spotted it on the calendar, she burst out happily ….” Oh mom it’s the day you make pinjari (a dessert made out of broken wheat fried in clarified butter with nuts, raisins and a dash of cardamom). It’s a longstanding ritual in my family passed on by my dear mother where special prayers are offered to Lord Vishnu (the preserver of the universe) on a full moon night. “Oh and we will go to the deck and offer milk and flowers to the moon. Hey mom why don’t you write a moment story on the moon? “she chirped, perhaps getting back at me for hounding her for her writing homework earlier during the day.
I smiled and thought that yes perhaps writing a moment story about the moon would let the steam off my busy, troubled self during times where we are all buckled under tutoring our kids , home bound (pun intended), with endless chores of cooking and cleaning. It would also give me a breather from thinking and writing about the middle of a short story even as the beginning, middle and end of my days follow the arc of a new, abnormal normal. Most importantly it would shift my thoughts from anxiety to possibility, the possibility of awe and the treasure of being truly present and grateful with all that we have. The moon has always evoked awe, a kind of deep reverence in me ……especially the full moon. And I believe awe makes us feel humble in the grander scheme of things , awe invokes faith that things are going as per a plan and that all we can do right now is to say a holy (and safe) yes to protect our loved ones and ourselves.
I was first introduced to the moon by my mom when she read out a story from a children’s magazine chanda mamma (moon referred to as uncle in folklore) . The story went that once moon made fun of Lord Ganesha the elephant god and in anger Ganesha hurled his axe at the celestial orb. The world was plunged into darkness and chaos. All the Gods pleaded to Lord Ganesha to restore the silvery lantern of the night sky. Lord Ganesha could not undo his curse but modified it such that the silver sphere would wane for half a month and wax for the other half, and thus it is to the present day. My daughter too was introduced by me to the moon through a story Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, a story about a boy who went owling with his father at night. The story has stayed with us on the silver pages of our memory. A few lines from the story…….
Then we came to a clearing in the dark woods,
The moon was high above us
It seemed to fit exactly over the center of the clearing
And the snow below it was whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl
I cannot have my fill of the white, cool sphere as it quietly slides along the dark night sky, in and out of skyscrapers, flitting beyond silent trees illuminating the dark roads of our world and the alleys of our mind , its mottled landscape acknowledging our varied moods of wonder , romanticism and trust.
The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections…..Tahereh Mafi
In my new home the moon circumambulates my home from early evening to late night just as it has cruised month after month year after year in a reassuring cycle of repetition as I watched it hanging over coconut trees from the terrace in my mother in laws home in Bhubaneswar, or through the balcony grill at my mom’s house on the 13th floor in Delhi as it dangled over a rapidly moving metro , at other times suspended on the Hudson river with the new World Trade Center as its backdrop as I watched it from my apartment in New Jersey. Besides invoking adoration the moon strangely comforts and reminds me of the feminine influence in my life …. my mother, my mother in law and all my female friends and how connected I feel with them as we navigate the common grounds of home, hearth, kids , work and relations. A native American legend refers to the moon as the lantern of the soul and rightly so for it connects us to ourselves by believing in the here and the now, connects us to our brethren for it is the same moon that shines on all and connects us to mother nature (moon is feminine ) that she will look after us but only if we honor her.
As the earth prepared to slumber under the April moon’s pearly quilt I was reminded of an ancient song in native American folklore.
By your waxing moon, help me change
By your fullness moon, help me be
By your waning moon help me change
By your darkness moon help me be.