The joyous month of June

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“Green was the silence, wet was the light; the month of June trembled like a butterfly”

– Pablo Neruda

Why is this sixth month of the year called June?  It also may have been called ‘sere-month,’ meaning ‘dry and withered,’ though this term may have meant June, July or August, says Google, which adds that in the seventeenth century, the Latin name for the sixth month crept into English, Iūnius, meaning ‘sacred to Juno,’ the Roman goddess, derived from Latin word iuniores which means young ones as opposed to May, the name denoting elders.

So, June it is, this sixth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar and its predecessor, the Julian calendar. It is believed, as noted earlier, that the month is named after the Roman Goddess Juno, wife of Jupiter, the lord of the Roman pantheon of gods and goddesses. In Greek mythology, Juno is goddess Hera. Jupiter as you know is the Roman to the Greek Zeus. The Romans, famed imitators, borrowed the Greek Gods and Goddesses and gave them indigenous names.

June’s global and national significance

June in the northern hemisphere is a hot dry month, coming as it does between spring with its rejuvenation of nature and even of the collective human spirit, and autumn that connotes drying up and getting ready for stark winter. It is the beginning of summer and so loved by northerners. Now that Covid is just one of those occurrences like flu, those in the UK and US who keep in touch, speak of barbecues; frequent entertaining and of course flowers in bloom and gardening. The greatest flower show, the RSH Chelsea Flower Show in Britain has just been held and we saw glad pictures of the Queen being taken around in a buggy. Just gazing at pictures of the blooms on show is stunning. The annual exhibition of flowering plants and flowers helps a children’s charity and runs many competitions.

And course sports come alive. June this year will see the conclusion of the French Open Tennis Tournament which began end May. Paris has no problem with non-vaccination for Covid.  Djokovic battled it out with Nadal in the quarter finals. As I write (Tuesday May 31) we await the result of this battle of the Titans as they bill it. Wimbledon is usually scheduled for later in June.

In the southern hemisphere people are preparing for the miseries of winter, so write two of my friends from Australia. In Sri Lanka, we celebrated Republic Day on 22 June, I remember, but now it’s one day we celebrate as National Day on 4 February, combining with Independence Day.  The most important event for Buddhists is Poson which celebrates the Poya of this month as the date was when  Mahinda Thera, son of Emperor Ashoka, came with four Theras and the son of his sister, Sanghamitta, to Mihintale. He spoke with King Devanampiyatissa who was hunting deer in those forests. Buddhism was received, accepted as the country’s religion and spread through the land. The pilgrimages to Mihintale would have started by now but for the lack of vehicle fuels and money in people’s pockets.

Month of the bride

“If June could talk it probably would boast it invented romance”

– Bernard Williams 

What does Juno symbolise as all Greek and Roman gods and goddess do?  Marriage. Hence, the explanation that June is the month of brides. We, even in Sri Lanka with majority Buddhists who revere no Gods, are not allowed to forget this fact. Many marriages, mostly church ones were in June during normal times and fashion reporters and fashion shows concentrated at this time on bridals and brides.  Those certainly are happy remembrances in these totally dismal days.

In this month of June 2022, have we Sri Lankans anything to look forward to? Even usual optimists are dim on the answer. Our travails seem universal and never ending. What can a human being do without money? Go begging? Even this has a time limit. We ordinary folk cannot believe how deep the depths are that this paradise island has been sunk to by unscrupulous mismanagement.

Covid-19 or Omicron cannot be blamed. Part of the blame for our downfall lies with this virus, but India was attacked much more than us. People were dying on the streets and it was not a pandemic, but an epidemic that blew across the entire country. The country now is in the powerful Quad with Japan, US and Australia. India, with other South Asian countries, extend helping hands to us, with maybe conditions attached. We pray fervently that times will improve and the next six months of 2022 will see us slowly, but surely rise out of the depths of misery.   

(Kumari)