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Bread Festival

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

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. On the evening before the celebration of this festival, the women cool wheat porridge sweetened with brown sugar. The food is set aside uneaten. Early the next morning, the women dress in their clothes. They carry the porridge with some rice, peas, and water to the shrine of Girgaon-Wali Mata. They bring their youngest children. They chant as they march together, "O Mata, you gave us children, now protect them from disease."

They pray to the goddess Girgaon-Wali Mata. Then they move on to the shrine of Kainthiwali Mata, this is the goddess of typhoid. The same ritual is repeated. Brown sugar and candies 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 prridge. This is especially true if he pilgrimage is done to fulfill a promise to the goddess; for the cure of a sick child or a successful birth or even a satisfactory marriage.


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