Where Cyrus Broacha traces the roots of All Fools Day  

Did we allow the greatest festival of the year, All Fools Day, to pass without whimper?

Published - April 05, 2024 04:52 pm IST

Satheesh Vellinezhi

Satheesh Vellinezhi | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi

I’m gobsmacked, stunned, super upset, scared and nauseous. And no, this time it wasn’t from watching Big Boss. Once I tell you why I’m afraid, you too, dear readers, will be inconsolable, distraught, a complete wreck. Actually, now that I mention it, I really shouldn’t say, I mean, why spoil your weekend? Unless, of course, you are a Mumbai Indians supporter, and your weekend is anyway spoiled.

Let fate decide if I should mention this horrendous piece of news or not. (three seconds later), okay, bad news, (this really should be the title of this column). I tossed the coin near an open window and now Sushila behen on the ground floor has it. Sushila behen is the opposite of a golden retriever, she returns nothing. What the heck, (to use a Marathi expression), I might as well tell you, was it not Shakespeare or some Indian news anchor in glasses, who said, “The Nation needs to know”?

Okay, people, enough stalling, here it is. Just gonna lay it out in black and white. Future generations, of course, will have the option to add colour. Brace yourself, especially, if you are a senior citizen, or a Mumbai Indians supporter. Ready, please fold hands and form a circle. If you are alone, hold your own hands. India has forgotten her biggest festival.

While we seem to be in the age of progress, and er... bridge building, one of the greatest festivals just passed us by. And no, it’s not Holi, Deepavali, Gudi Padwa or Pongal. For the record, these are all great festivals. If this was an Olympic race, these festivals would all be in the final.

However, a festival that shares its origin with the famous Babylonian Hammurabi (in Indian dialect, he was known as Shantanoo), who artfully and organically caused its actual birth, by casually printing out a code for society. This was no ordinary code printed on the thick slabs of papyrus. But what modern social scientists do not know is that the first print of the code of Hammurabi was completely and absolutely blank. No writing on it, whatsoever. Just reams of papyrus with not a jot or a dot on it. Of course, one year later, he rectified it by putting a small dash on one of the, let’s call it, pages.

Consequently, over the next 33 years, he added words, and a few sentences, until it finally evolved into the, ‘Code of Hammurabi’. A complete account of 282 laws, interspersed with stick figures of naked people, to make a dry subject more appealing. Sadly, Hammurabi (Shantanoo), also by creating an empty book for the perusal of all, started the world’s greatest festival. This event occurred on April 1, 1757 B.C.E., and was known as All Fools Day. Worldwide April 1 is celebrated with pomp and splendour. Government making fun of citizens, citizens making fools of their government. Anything goes on April 1, All Fools Day. Yet, this year, we allowed the greatest festival to pass without whimper. Or was it a sophisticated plan to celebrate All Fools Day by ignoring it and thus fooling us into thinking there is no All Fools Day? Thus, making fools of us all? Awaiting your comments. 

The writer has dedicated his life to communism. Though only on weekends.

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