lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Quirky things

Once upon a time, there was a god. Like all gods he had a portfolio and a job description. He was doing his job or trying to, and got another god seriously miffed and got burnt to a crisp.

We commemorate this every year by celebrating Holi.

Actually, the burning of Kama is only one myth about Holi. Other stories are told about the demoness Holika, about Krishna surviving a poisoning attempt.

It is just a spring festival; most of the customs associated with Holi evolved over time. (Now we do it because it's always been done this way. :D)

I ought to make it clear I don't hold with Holi. I grew up without ever hearing about it and the first time I came across the phenomenon of smearing colours and slinging water and worse at people, I was horrified. Granted, if you grew up with the custom it might seem fun, but I didn't and it is not my idea of fun to have to scrub various goo off and still look pink for the next week or so.

Let those who want to, celebrate Holi; I take the chance to relax and have an excuse not to stir out of the house. Besides, this year Holi falls on the 14th, and I'd rather talk about the World Pi Day.

This is as quirky as the reason why we celebrate Holi. In the American format today's date is 3/14. That reminds some minds of that mathematical constant pi. So 14th March is an unofficial celebration for Pi Day, derived from the common three-digit approximation for the pi: 3.14. It is usually celebrated at 1:59 PM (in recognition of the six-digit approximation: 3.14159).

Weird, but true. These celebrations are bizarre as Holi celebrations. Enthusiasts eat, drink, play and watch pi. Pie eating contests (where the pie is square shaped- an insider joke about pi r squared), pina colada and pink gin parties, pinata (which is eeriely like the Andhra celebration of Krishnashtami), and pictures. They also make a big deal of the fact that it is Einstein's birthday.

I suppose they celebrate 22nd July and 9th November, too. Well, they are welcome to. To each his or her own pet obsession.

Martel wrote a fantastic novel about a boy who shortened his name to Pi, and found himself adrift on a lifeboat for 227 days after a shipwreck. And he had a tiger to keep him company, and perhaps to keep him on his toes, too. Talk about weird. :D



Anonymous Arnab said...

No offence to K but mathematicians are weird! And worse, they enjoy being weird!
Ya, had seen the book "The life of Pi"... mark my words... i said "seen", not "read" ;)

11:47 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Read it. It is worth the effort. A lovely book, if you can suspen belief for a while.

9:59 pm  

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