The Way It Is: July’s here!

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We have started a new month –July – and more than half the year 2022 has gone by.  But what do we feel? Exuberance, joy or regret that half the year is already over?  None of these, we are full of disillusionment, disappointment and some are even simmering in rage. But we have to divert our minds from our present position of a breakdown of normal life, the negation of vibrancy and the very existence of the country as a whole. Hence I Googled about the month of July and came up with facts which I present below.

Commemorations

The name July is derived from Julius Caesar’s family name ‘Julius’.  In around 44 BC he introduced the Julian calendar and made July the 7th month of the year. Previously, the month was named Quintilis and was the 5th month of the year.

Of the celebrations and commemorations of different dates of this month around the world, the most widely known is July 4 – US Independence Day, celebrating the unanimous adoption of the declaration of independence by 13 States in 1776 and adopted  by the second continental congress meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It marks the end of the 13 States revolution against colonisation by Great Britain. These States took a collective first step of uniting themselves as the United States of America and the document was signed by 56 of America’s founding fathers – congressional representatives from the 13 States. It is one of the few public holidays declared for the entire US and sees celebratory parties, parades and firework displays, the most spectacular being in the New York harbour.

 Another important celebration and commemoration in July is Bastille Day in France – 14 July. It is the national day of the country and officially named la fête nationale française since 1980. It commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 which ushered in the French Revolution against French royalty with its cry of Liberté, Egalite, Fraternite.  On this day the oldest and largest military parade is held along the Champs-Élysées.

July 1 is observed in Canada as Canada Day which celebrates the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867.  July 3 is marked as the start of hot and sultry days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and is named Dog Days of Summer. 29 July marks the Islamic New Year and the start of the Islamic lunar calendar in the new month of Muharran  with the first sighting of the crescent moon.

In Sri Lanka

In conjunction with the July poya named Esala Poya, the processions: the Maha Nuwara Dalada Maligawa Esala Perahara and the Kataragama festival are held, sometimes moving to August. One associates the former with crowds, around 100 elephants shiningly clad, the Nilames in their bulky traditional clothes and tourists in Kandy in July/August. Long ago, more exciting to us kids and elder sisters was the Bogambara Carnival. Mothers frowned on it; girls wanted to go since the boys would be there to follow them, perchance send a long look or even verbal message in spite of strict chaperonage. We kids loved the merry-go-round with its papara band within and the swings and Lucky Dips.

The immediate term that comes to mind with the name Kataragama Festival is fire walking. There is also dancing with peacock feather-decorated arched kavadi, crowds again with Tamils mixed with Sinhalese and the bangle bazaars and hopper makers.

This year all these will in all probability be non est.  Will the country be sufficiently serviced with plenty petrol and diesel?  The immediate future is so doubtful.

However, a tradition that will be upheld is the Buddhist Sangha observing vas. The three months of staying in one aranya or in a loaned house and being looked after by lay persons even more diligently, renewing vows – vinaya -and being in isolation starts in the poya of July, to end in October. Hence the religious traditions are the most significant events of the month of July to us  in Sri Lanka.  Additionally, fruits are plentiful: the yellow esala trees still covered in yellow blooms and the heat of  May/June noticeably decreasing.

Kumari