Today is Kanu, the day after the harvest festival. On this day the birds and animals are fed special delicacies like sugarcane, four kinds and colours of rice, including sweet pongal, and bananas. Pongal is the day the sun is supposed to start on its northward path, celebrated elsewhere in the country as Uttarayan. (And in Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea, my current fictional obsession, they have a festival called Sunreturn!) I always wonder why Uttarayan doesn’t happen the day after the winter solstice – it can’t be the day the sun crosses the equator, because that is the March equinox – so what was the point of picking some obscure latitude, between 7° and 8°S, to make a rough calculation?
Anyway, on Kanu day, we salute the sun and feed the birds and animals, light a lamp and pray for the health and happiness of our siblings. This is my skimpy and messy Kanu for this year, owing to general fed-upness after a week-long bout of cold and fever that just won’t quit. The crows and squirrels appreciated it though.
It’s things like this that make me think I am a practicing Hindu. I’m not religious and hate ritual, but when it comes to worshipping the sun and feeding animals, I’m all for it!