Krishna and some innocence...

I can hear the drums. A bunch of young people will form a human pyramid and break a clay pot filled with curd and lots of money. Gods don’t come cheap anymore. The stakes are up. Because devotees are full of greed.

Today is Janmashtmi, the birth of Lord Krishna. As a young boy he survived attempts to kill him because of divine intervention. He was like most boys and was raised by a cowherd and his wife. That surrogate mother, in fact, was the principal influence on his life. Yashodha. He would rob the churned milk and return to her, his mouth speckled with white residue.

That made him human.

He was surrounded by gopis and would steal their clothes as they bathed in the river and demand more butter to return their garments. That butter did not add any cholesterol to his system nor lard to his girth. Krishna has always been pictorially depicted as lean, often playing the flute.

On Janmashtmi day, that human pyramid forming takes place. As a child I recall there used to be one right outside our building, in the lane. They used the window bars of an apartment to tie the rope from one end and the other end was secured in the building across. At the centre would be the pot. The fellows who climbed up were children of the labourers, tailors, maids, cooks, drivers in the locality. We would egg them on as they tripped. Finally, the smallest one would reach the top, break the handi and they’d share the money. It wasn’t much. Sometimes, they would come round offering us prasad (holy offerings). We took it without a care about how it was made and where.

Childhood hungers are different.

I would still look wide-eyed if everything had remained the same. But they don’t. Things change. We change. One transforming the other in a cycle that spins out of shape. Now those soiled and creased currency notes are replaced by money that can be in hundreds of thousands. The celebrations are held in designated areas sponsored by companies and attended by celebrities.

The pot is higher, many more tiers of people climbing and breaking limbs to reach it.

Yet, I keep my queries aside. For, it is only during these festivals that the poor become important. They are needed to fracture bones. To dance shamelessly in the streets. To stuff their faces with unhygienic colours. To get indelicately drunk. To snivel before the gods of today, Mammons in their limousines throwing big moolah to feel they have earned their place in heaven.

The gods have given up. Their myths that spoke of sagacity have been sold to the highest bidders. Their images come in forms that are ostentatious. Oh, I said, I would not raise a quizzical eyebrow, I said I won’t…

So, this morning I added an extra dollop of butter on toast in memory of the lord. The grease that stayed on my lips reflected a childhood I was born to lose.

- - -

Pop secularism?

Top - painting of Krishna and Mother by Raja Ravi Verma
Bottom - photograph in TOI


  1. Muslim mom(my asumption) and crying baby Krishna and you Farzana blogging says it all. I lived in India as a child and i do not have such vivid memories. Thanks for sharing.I was told i was special as i was born on Janam Ashtami.Are not we all very special ?

    kul bhushan

  2. gods have given up? so have the celebrators who have little or almost no faith in the gods they venerate or in their own selves. No celebrations today in most parts of Mumbai. A teeny-weeny flu virus is keeping them cooped up in their safe places. In nana patekar style - ek virus aadmi ko nastik bana deta hai..

  3. After reading this I think only children must celebrate festivals.We such a noise about Durga Pujo that we are supposed to become religious

  4. Kul Bhushan:

    This makes for a nice picture. As for being born on Janmashtmi, I can imagine the feeling of jubilation in your family at the time. I was born during thunder and lightning and everyone was thrilled because it meant no lack of electricity, I guess!


    Shuk'r kijiye ke logon ne virus ko poojna shuru nahin kiya...


    Kolkatans immerse the Durga avtaar. They wouldn't do it with Kali and the skulls at her feet :)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.