Welcome to Friday confluence

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By The Telegraph Online in Delhi
  • Published 20.03.08

New Delhi, March 19: It takes the Gods to get a bit crazy for pundits and imams and atheists and agnostics to begin talking alike on contrary faiths.

Friday, the 21st, will be a never-before day in our lives — an extraordinary confluence of constellations that’s about to conjure a rare religious conjunction on Earth — sombre Good Friday, pious Fateha Doaz Daham and riotous Holi all on the same day.

Divine endorsement of a secular, multi-religious nation that prides in the concept of “sarva-dharma sambhav”, some might say. The happy thing is, nobody’s disagreeing. Or rather, the Gods have forced them to agree.

Ram Madhav of the RSS and Mufti Mukarram of Delhi’s Fatehpuri mosque, in fact, turned in near-identical reactions. “It’s a great thing for people of so many religions to be observing their festivals on the same day, it makes it all the more important, we wish them all well,” Ram Madhav said.

Mufti Mukarram echoed the sentiment, saying: “What could be better than for all of us to be observing our respective holy days at the same time? This is a symbol of our greater oneness.”

Hindu and Islamic festivals play musical chairs on the Gregorian calendar because they’re linked to the lunar cycle and are governed by the position — or appearance — of the moon. So, often auspicious days of both religions coincide, Muharram and Ganesh Chaturthi, for instance.

What’s significant this year is that Easter — probably the only Christian festival also linked to the lunar and solar calculus — is also looped in. Easter Sunday is observed on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox, which falls on March 21; that’s Good Friday.

Easter this year is on March 23, and won’t come this early in the year until 2160. The earliest date on which Easter may be observed is March 22, but the last time Easter fell on March 22 was in 1818; it won’t come so early until 2285.

“It is extremely rare that three events of different religions fall on the same day. It is extremely significant,” said Acharya C.L. Panchal, the vice-president of the All India Federation of Astrologers’ Societies. So, according to Panchal, babies born on the day will be thrice blessed.

Although D. Raja of the CPI dismissed Friday’s holiday trinity as “only a coincidence of the calendar”, even he thought the day might carry larger significance.

“The people of India cherish their festivals and occasions, that is our great strength. It is good the three occasions are falling on the same day,” he said, not missing out on a dig at “communal” adversaries.

“I know people like (Narendra) Modi may not like people coming together and observing their respective festivals on the same day, but that is our great tradition, and that will get strengthened.”

Teesta Setalvad, the militant secularist who has made Modi’s Gujarat her great battlefield, was more blunt in projecting Friday for her purposes.

“Oh, that’s great,” she said, told of the concurrence of Holi, Good Friday and the Prophet’s birthday. “This can only happen in a country like India and that is why I am proud to be an Indian. What can be a better message for our fascists that no number of them can destroy our syncretic culture?”

It’s often happened that religious rejoicing has ended up in communal retribution, one procession running into another, the children of one God demanding right of way and worthiness over children of another God.

But thank heavens, what’s coming isn’t the spectral Friday the 13th. It’s only the Gods going crazy, their children can rest and rejoice.

Written by Sankarshan Thakur with inputs from G.S. Mudur and Charu Sudan Kasturi