I don’t quite learn something new every day that I’m here in India, but sometimes it seems that way. Today’s learning was dry days. These are days where sale of alcohol – in shops, bars and restaurants – is forbidden. Here’s how this enlightenment came to me:
Today I made a shopping trip to Dorabjee’s, which together with Hypermarket is one of my go-to grocery places. In addition to having a great selection of both Indian and Western foods and ingredients, Dorabjee’s also sells wine and beer at good prices. As you can see from the dead soldiers above, one of the brands I purchase is Deccan Plateau – Dorabjee’s offers a 2-for-1 deal with a net price of about Rs. 240 a bottle, or $4.45. The stuff is reasonably drinkable – I’ve had far worse from the 2-for-$12 bin at Kappy’s liquors back home in Boston.
So I’m at Dorabjee’s filling my cart with khakhra, Murthy’s jeera badami, minced mutton, lime pickle and other necessities of expat cuisine when I decide I need to re-stock my stores of subcontinental plonk (a term of affection, BTW). Alas, the doors to the wine section are closed, an enigmatic – to me – sign proclaiming “dry day”. On the way home I ask Rupesh ands he explains the general principle – no alcohol can be sold. But he doesn’t know why today in particular should be a dry day. Saturdays are fine, I have bought wine many times on Saturday.
A little googling provides the answer. Today is Prabodhini Ekadashi. This is a holy day important to the Hindu god Lord Vishnu. As wikiPedia explains, this day marks the yearly awakening of Vishnu, who has been sleeping the past four months. This four month period is considered inauspicious and in this time marriage and other domestic ceremonies are considered unlucky or are even forbidden.
This day is an ekadashi, a specific day in the lunar month and something important in vedic astronomy. Figuring out when these happen is hard – but no harder than figuring the date of Passover, seems to me.
So that’s the story of dry days. It will have to be next week when my Dionysian urges will be fulfilled – sorry to mix mythologies.
UPDATE: Worry not, my friends! I have an entire bottle of Glenmorangie, and a small soapstone elephant, to see me through this divinely-mandated dry spell.