Happy birthday Mira & may there be many happy returns .
The above greeting seems ever so staid and uncharacteristic of my Blog.
My Blog, after all, relates essentially to epochal Events & dreary Non-Events that constitute the collage of life . In keeping with this essence , the Greeting would be incomplete , would it not , without some little tidbits about coincidences of history associated with this special 24th day of the month of February over the years & indeed over centuries ( Wikepedia , how very incomplete would one be without your constant companionship !! )
By Roman custom, February 24 is the day added to a leap year in the Julian Calendar, which counted the year somewhat inaccurately at 365.25 days , thus necessitating the add-on of a Leap day every so often. February 24, 1996 (400 years after Julian Calendar went out of fashion ) was the last officially recognised Leap Day in the European Union . Bureaucratic delay at its peak one might say.
The Julian Calendar is, and has been for over 400 years, overwhelmed globally by the Gregorian Calendar , recognised by the UN amongst others , in the interest of international integration . Gregorian Calendar was introduced ( by Pope Gregory : who else !! ) , by a decree signed in the year of the Lord 1582 on the 24th day of February .
True to its stated objective , Vatican immediately got down to restoration of normalcy : the Spring vernal equinox had slid from March 21 to March 10 because of the cumulative Julian error as above & needed immediate restoration. Therefore, February 24 in 1582 in the Gregorian calendar was followed by March 06 1582 in Church records for all calendar bound obligations and events . Births on February 24 in 1582 were officially recorded as March 06 : a small price to pay for restoring the equinox to March 21 where it has stood , rock solid , ever since , performing its sheet anchor role with reference to Easter .
Back home ,the official Indian Calendar follows Saka Era ( Gregorian year minus 78 years ) , contrary to the common belief in favour of the Vikram Samvat ( Gregorian year + 56.7 years ) . The Saka Calendar was adopted by the Government of India based on recommendations of the Calendar Reforms Committee of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research , in 1957 , on , believe it or not , the 24th day of February.
Apart from epochal events associated with February 24 in the evolution of a uniform calendar system, several non-events, both sublime & not quite sublime , have an uncanny association with the date.
So what !! you might wonder sotto voce if you are alone when reading this , or aloud if there are others around you . and rightly so !
The day is special to me as it is to many others , not because DuPont launched the world’s first Nylon bristled Tooth Brush on this day in 1938 ( btw did you know that DuPont called its newly discovered yarn Nylon because it was the result of concurrent research in New York & London . NY & LON as a conjunct seemed like a good idea. An idea born through collaborative endeavours in R&D centres in Dispur & Lancaster would then be called Disaster . But I digress , as is my wont , & must return to the theme of this post.
The day , as I was saying , is special to me not because it was on February 24, 1944 that the Russian revolution erupted ( officially the August Revolution only because August offers a more convivial weather than February for outdoor anniversary celebrations ) .
The day is special not because February 24 1937 saw the oath of office by the first ever Congress ministry under provincial autonomy negotiated at the Gandhi-Irwin dialogue : an oath they have consistently let the Nation down on .
Cassius Clay ( later Mohd Ali ) dislodged Sonny Liston as the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion on this day in 1964 , & a year later , to the day , the Liverpool lads , later tagged as The Beatles began shooting for their first film “ Help” ( the theme song is still fresh in one’s memory 5 decades later ) . But then . that’s not the reason why this day is special to me & to many others.
The day is special to me not because it was on this day in 1944 that Juan Peron staged a coup in Argentina & the legend of Eva Peron took its first tentative steps. What , one wonders , would have been the fall out ( if the coup had not been staged ) on Aleque Padamsee whose only claim to fame was the Liril girl in Ooty , till EVITA happended . But that again is a digression best avoided.
24th February 1991 saw the start of the first Gulf War against Iraq . North & South Yemen declared war on each other also on Feb 24 , 1974 & there is no one left there to “knock it off “. It was on Feb 24th in 1974 that Pakistan finally recognised Bangladesh as a sovereign Nation : big deal !! one might exclaim. None of these can be the cause for this day to be special to me.
The objective of going to some considerable lengths in collating events & non -events coinciding is to put emphasis on the point that whilst wars may have been won or lost , Tooth brushes launched , & epoch making treaties signed on this day , the day is special to me not because of any of the above but because it is the birthday of someone very special to me.
Our lives are interspersed with events & non-events, some happy and some not so happy Special days such as the birthday of someone as special as you are the beacon of hope that, in the midst of a medley called life, there always is & shall be , for many more years to come , an anchor-point , a point of reference so to speak , for our extended family , in you , our very dear Mira .
A Very Happy Birthday Mira & may there be many Happy Returns of this very special day .
Cheers & all the best .