India, Fall 2012
India is in a perpetual state of celebration. In the fall of 2012, I spent five months living there and there were endless excuses for fireworks, drumming, processions, music, dancing, and generally cheery behavior. It usually involved worship of a specific God or Goddess, but sometimes it was just for the New Moon. How do we celebrate a moon? We have warm flavored milk, of course. It sounds kind of gross when I say it like that, but it was delicious, I swear. Think of it like an eggnog.
The night of the New Moon, I went upstairs with my host family to the rooftop terrace where I was actually cold for once. It felt so nice to be cold in India. The moonlight provided plenty of light for us to sit and chat and enjoy our milk. It was one of the only times the whole family came together to enjoy each other’s company like that, as the women and men normally ate dinner separately and we were never awake at the same time to eat breakfast together.
For the New Moon celebration, the milk is heated up with cashews and almonds that have already soaked in water so they’re soft, and then some spices are added for flavor including cardamom, saffron, and nutmeg. It was the perfect drink to get comfy with under the stars… okay, fine, you can’t see the stars because of the smog. But you CAN see the moon so it was still beautiful. I curled up with my warm flavored milk (I never learned the name of it… everyone just kept referring to the “flavored milk”) and then nestled in for a good night’s sleep.