What am I missing today is the celebration of Janamshtami. I come from Delhi; a city, which for most people who is not from Delhi, is known to be a loud city and I don’t deny that. Delhi is loud and that is why all the festivals are celebrated with full fervor.

 

Markets are lit 15 days ahead of Diwali; you get to see colors on people’s faces at least 2 weeks before its Holi. New Year celebration starts from 1st December, Valentines day means red heart shaped balloons every where, Santa Clauses distributing goodies from the 20th of December, big boards of festival discounts, colorful e-mails carrying good wishes, children coming every now and then to collect money to celebrate either Ram Lila, Bhagwati Jagran or Janmashtami.

 

As a child I also celebrated Janmashtami inspired by my dad who also celebrated the festival the way it had been celebrated for so many years. Friends would gather, they would go from one house to the other in the neighborhood, collect money. Some people will give money and some will just send you back. The amount would vary from Rs.2 to Rs.10.

 

This money will then be used to buy the small clay toys, which are sold especially for Janmashtami. Small cows, Krishna’s father Vasu Dev, Devaki, Shiva’s Head and other similar artifacts. A place in the colony is selected where a pit is dug. This pit is then filled with water because that’s how the river Yamuna is shown in Delhi. Then the river is decorated with colorful chalks, lights. False mount Kailash is created and Shiva is placed on top. If you have a generous aunty and a  plumber savvy neighborhood “Bhaiyya” then you also get a Ganga and Yamuna flowing from Mount Kailash. The prasad is usually “Boondi” and 2 most important things other than all this are placed. These are a jhoola or a cradle where Bal Gopal or little Krishna is placed so that people can come and rock the cradle with the help of a thread, which is tied to that cradle and the other important thing being the jail in which Krishna’s parents where captured.

 

In the water pit, Vasu Dev is kept because that is how he crossed the river to save Krishna.

 

The entire area is then lit up with long wires and bulbs and electricity taken from some other generous uncle. Small kids are made to dress up like Radha and Krishna.

 

This is how Janmashtami has been celebrated in Delhi for so many years. I am not sure if children find the time and motivation from there parents to celebrate these festival these days and if the modern society, apartment managers allow the kids to celebrate the festival in the traditional style.

 

These festivals are more of a learning experience for a child rather than a religious practice. It teaches a child the essence of teamwork, leadership, organizing and management.

 

I remember the 1st time when I celebrated Janmashtami, I celebrated it with a Muslim friend of mine and even asked her to get an idol of Krishna. She went and asked her mom if they had any Krishna idol and Mrs. Ali said, “No.” That’s how innocent childhood is.

 

Once I grew up the responsibility of celebration passed on to the next generation of kids and they did a good job. We would go out and check out every colony’s Janmashtami decoration and pass our verdict. Its as similar as going to different Durga Puja pandals and see the decorations.

 

Delhi in many ways is a very lively city. Every year 15th Aug is celebrated as a National festival with people in patriotic mood, playing patriotic songs, in the evening kite flying is a must do followed by how many kites one could steal. On Rakshabandhan you would see men with huge Rakhis on their wrist. Sleepy husbands taking their decked up wives to their brother’s homes. Aunties looking for young girls for Kanchak, children collecting wood for Lohri, Ram Lila convoys passing by with small, thin boys dressed up as monkeys, huge effigies of Ravan, women in shimmering dresses on Id and Karwachaut. It’s a different experience all together if you are in Delhi during festivals.

 

The city that I live in these days is completely opposite. It’s all that what Delhi is not. It’s quite yet chaotic, cold and a weather and life so uniform throughout the year, 365 days that unless you read it in the Newspaper you would not even come to know that yesterday was 15th Aug.

 

Today also passed like any other Sunday. Today was Janmashtami but without any celebration. I made some halwa at home and we were done.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “What am I missing today?

  1. Bangalore is definitely low key in its celebration of many festivals. The amount of festivites that you see in a public space is much lessor and much more mellowed down version of what you see in other cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

    Yes I do miss these festivities too. On the 15th of Aug it was very heart warming when we were passing through Masinagudi the whole town seemed to be celebrating Independence day. Our car was stopped and an elderly gentleman gave handfulls of toffees and chocolates and said, “Jai Hind” with a big smile. It felt very good. This warmth seems to be missing from many of our big cities.

  2. Ah yes, the way you have described, janmashtmi used to be pretty much like that when I was a kid. And how we would labour to get the decorations done around the place where the small idols etc were placed, getting small plastic/clay figurines from the collected pot, oh yeah, it used to be a lot of fun. Those were definitely the days!

    Today’s hip-hop cosmopolitan housing complexes & environment has lost that charm though one can still wander down the memory lane in some of the old mohallas of the city. But its slowly fading away, I can see it all around. The place where I live, its a mix of old & new world, but no such thing done by kids here. The temples are decorated lavishly & beautiful & lovely idols on display there & the whole setup is quite good, but thats been always there. Kids have grown out of things that we used to do, I guess thats what evolution is!🙂

  3. Times have changed. What was social activity in the past has now become very commercial. Princey’s school (and like many other playschools in Delhi) had a fancy dress thingy. Kids had to dress up as various characters in the story of Lord Krishna’s birth.

    I guess, it was fun for the kids, but still I feel there was “nothing natural or innocent” abt it. For all that I know, working parents had a hard time going to vendors who supply costume on rent, and then getting the children all ready for the 7:30 am school.

    We have started doing things for formality. The social and family participation is missing. We are all in a rush, doing things just because we are told to. On my part, I think the children would have enjoyed more, if they had made their own “mukoots” and “moti-ki-maala” and “paper-jewelry” but alas it was the parents efforts (and money) that had them decked up for a fancy dress show at school!!!

  4. On second thots, with reference to the Rakshabandhan celebrations, once again, I had mixed emotions, considering that it was my first real exposure to the festival after an inter-religious marriage. I dont want to be over-judgemental but what I saw was a general cribbing abt how expensive rakhis were this season, a general debate at home on the amount to be given in “shagun”, and ofcourse loads and loads of sweets, so much so that people cringed to have another lot of “meetha” shoved into their mouth.

    Why do we do this – Why do we commercialize everything … what was supposed to be a bond between brothers and sisters, has been turned into a forced familial event. Bua’s tying rakhis to nephews, sister-in-laws to bhabhi’s, so on and so forth. It seems like that any relationship that is beyond the ties of matrimony between individuals, needs to be sanctified as bhai-behen relationship with the tying of a rakhi. Maybe I am being very harsh here, but these are opinions based on the study of the definitive lack of emotions in the entire episode of tying a rakhi. I was told that there are some relatives who come to the house only once a year, to complete the ceremony, else they dont care around any other festivals or events.

    And more than the “show of brotherly-sisterly affections” I was perturbed by the wastage of desi-ghee sweets – kilos and kilos – bought and exchanged – flooding the refrigerator – distributed to servants and helpers. Why cant we rather use that money to have a charity meal for the poor in our neighbourhood or to distribute clothes, blankets to the need. Why are we such a “diabetic” country??

  5. @Ansi,

    Ya agree with your points. The efforts are missing from families to celebrate any festival the way we used to celebrate as a kid. Change in lifestyle, time being a rare commodity these days, we would rather prefer an unwinding vacation than celebrate a festival with the family. I also agree that the kids could have been asked to make something like what you suggested whicg would have added so much to their creativity. As far as commercialising festivals like Rakhi, I completely agree with you. Even I may also sound very harsh but I have also seen so many families passing their judgment on Rakhi and Diwali gifts. It has become more of a formality than love. My Rakhi on the other than used to be really cute. My brother would buy me Lux international soap or junk jewellery as Rakhi gifts.🙂 I think parents also teach a lot to their kids the way they celebrate these festivals. Till today Rakhi and Bhai Dooj is a festival where my brother gets all the gifts from me. This time tough I have not given him anything.

    Its sad to see the communal affair fading away from these festivals which used to be so much fun simply becuase they used to a reason for everyone to come together for one common cause.

    May be we can teach our kids all that and the essence of every festival and relationship.🙂

  6. Shriram play by Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra. A celebration of Ramleela before Dussehra which is on 21st October.
    Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra enters its 51st year of the presentation of the story of ‘RAM. At the time when ‘RAM’ was first performed in 1957, there were practically no dancers in Delhi and had to be specially brought from Kolkatta and Kerala. Today it is a matter of pride that perhaps almost every school in Delhi – of which there are hundreds – have dance teachers who have performed in this production.

  7. Role : Played as Hanuman in Bal Ramleela
    Najafgarh New Delhi 43

    Full Name Harsh Dahiya
    Father Name Shri Prakash Dahiya
    Mobile No. 9717484464
    Business :Web Designing & Promotion & Advertisement,
    Event Management, Bal Ram Leela,
    Najafgarh, New Delhi, India

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