The Month of abstinenceViews — By Vedvrat Shikarpur on August 17, 2012 at 10:27 AM
So, here I am sitting in a lounge with my friends, and find myself to be the only one not drinking or having non-veg. Reason, I follow abstinence during the month of shravan. So no more beers, tequila shots, my favourite rum or whisky, no chicken, mutton or any such related foods and drinks.
To most punekars, who don’t believe in any such rituals or fasts, and my friends, my abstinence is quite shocking and doesn’t fit in the forward minded social norms Pune is today better known for. Thus, angry and irritated by my strict discipline, my friends decided to grill me on this topic. Why follow this ritual of fasting in shravan? I replied by saying that shravan is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar, and considered the holiest among them. So, religiously speaking, fasting during this month is considered auspicious. But my friend pointed out that I am not as religious as I sound. Being a Brahmin, religion refrains me from consuming alcohol and non-veg completely. That’s when I spit out the scientific reasoning for it. Scientifically, during monsoon, the body’s digestive capacity decreases, so one should eat less and eat light foodstuff. Hence the abstinence of heavy foods like chicken, mutton, etc. Also, this is the fish breeding season, therefore, most fishermen on the coastline stop fishing, meaning people have to turn to a vegetarian diet. But the questioning still did not stop. What has fish breeding got to do with Pune, which is not even near a coast. And why abstain from smoking or drinking?
The reason is quite simple for me. It is not the scientific or the religious reasons that compel me to follow abstinence for a month. The main reason for abstinence is to prove myself that I can control my urges when necessary. I am not addicted to alcohol and I can go without a month living “poison free”. No heavy foodstuff to pile on the calories. No alcohol or smoke to get me out of the world of reality and give me that temporary high or kick as some would call it. For me, shravan is more personal, than anything else. I choose to follow abstinence during shravan because I want to, not because I have to.
This seemed to shut them up, or they were too drunk to debate with me anymore. I went back to enjoying soup, a veggie starter and a cold coffee, while all around me people were smoking, drinking and having the best chicken in the city. Later that night, I also had to be the only person in a pub, not drinking, while all around me people grooved to the music, drunk and intoxicated. For a moment, I felt like Shravan, the character from Ramayana, who was duty bound to his blind parents, and kept away from all vices. The only difference being, this was not the Ayodhya of Ram’s era. This was Pune, the once “cultural capital” that now is modernising into a culture of its own.