“Indian families that eat non-vegetarian foods regularly change what they eat every Tuesday to eat only vegetarian foods in honor of the gods because if you eat meat on Tuesday it will bring bad luck. My household followed this rule pretty strictly, and my mom still does, but because my dad got tired of it me and my siblings don’t really have to follow it anymore.”
This is a great example of a ritual that many families follow because it is deeply rooted in religious tradition, but more and more families today choose not to follow for whatever reason. This makes me wonder what the trend of families that follow this tradition looks like in terms of how many families stop practicing this tradition every year.
My informant M is my 49-year-old mother. She follows many Hindu traditions even though she lives in America. She has found a community of friends who also celebrate many of the same traditions as well.
In this piece, my informant explains to me (AK) a Hindu tradition called Navratri. She also goes into detail about how this tradition has adapted over time into the form that she practices today.
M: So most North Indians fast for the first seven days of the Navratri…. Every night, jagrans take place, where devotees gather to sing religious songs. On the Ashtami or the Navami, fasts are broken by inviting nine young girls from the neighborhood, who are honored with gifts including money, food, etc. These girls, known as ‘kanjak’, are considered to be representations of the nine different avatars (forms) of Maa Durga.
AK: So this definitely isn’t the way you celebrate Navratri now right?
M: (Laughs) Oh no… this was the original tradition. Now you practice it by being vegetarian for the day. I actually fast for the day.
AK: Oh yeah.. I remember, I’m glad I understand where this tradition came from though!
For some reason, I had never really asked my mom where this tradition came from and just blindly practiced it my whole life. I distinctly remember my mom telling me to be vegetarian for the day but never questioned why. It was really nice to hear of this tradition, and I sure am glad we do not practice it as it was originally outlined!