'Ashada' blues

Chilly, strong winds, spells of rain with the sun occasionally coming out from behind the dark clouds mark the month of July. A general air of lethargy pervades the atmosphere. As if to heighten the feeling of brooding and inactivity is the observance of this month as ‘Ashada’ according to the Hindu almanac.

Considered to be an inauspicious month, July is bereft of any happy functions like weddings, housewarmings etc. New ventures and inaugurations have to wait for the dark clouds of  inauspiciousness to disappear. Businesses see a dip in their sales graphs. This is a lean period for many. Marriage and party halls which are normally booked months in advance are available ‘off the shelf.’ Some hall owners rent out their premises for sales and exhibitions to tide over the situation. Cooks, priests, decorators, hirers of vessels, tents and shamianas also idle.

Such is the grip of the ‘Ashada’ syndrome on the psyche of the believers that they would have even postponed births and deaths if they had the power to do so. But there are some who intelligently plan for this bleak month. The saree shop owners for instance. ‘Monsoon sale’ and ‘Ashada sale’ advertisements and hoardings spring up like mushrooms after the rains. Hefty discounts are offered to entice customers to buy and stock up for the festive season just round the corner. Never mind if the prices are jacked up before giving the discount or the goods on offer are the unsold and soiled ones or the ones with outdated designs. Like ants piling up for the wet months ahead, people flock to these sales to get the best of these imagined bargains.

It’s also a season of riches for the doctors and hospitals. The weather is conducive for all those viruses to make their onslaughts:  Coughs, colds and infections spell manna for doctors and pharmaceutical companies. All the world is a stage for that pestilence, the mosquito to discharge his ordained duty of procreation, disease propagation and feeding upon the life blood of the two legged species that dares to wage an albeit losing battle with him.  The victims end up in hospital with the doctor gravely murmuring about dengue while preparing to get his bank passbook updated for the latest deposit.

Finally, the inauspicious clouds move on, heralding the arrival of the festive month of ‘Shravana.’ Perhaps the creator has woken up from his ‘Ashada’ slumber!

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