Nostalgic epiphany - Janmashtmi
The God of love has come to me, I want to pass it on...
My fondest memories are those of my grandmother and the festivities in which we
participated together. All festivals brought with them their own gaiety, but Janmashtmi had a special
place in my grandmother’s heart. For a loving devotee of
anything to do with the cowherd God was sacrosanct. And nothing less than the
best was acceptable to her for her baby Krushna!
We children waited for Janmashtami with bated breath and participated
enthusiastically in the celebrations. But of course, the prasad happens to be
the major attraction. The special mithais made out of coconut, makhana and
groundnut would tempt us no end. But all goodies meant for the prasad were forbidden fruit till the puja was through.
We vied with each other for the larger share.
The vanar sena, monkey-brigade as dadi called us was
kept busy decorating the puja-room to keep our hands full so that we could be
held back from stealing the goodies meant for makhan-chor. The room was
decorated wall to wall with leafy vandandwar
and intricate alpana, flower and tinsel streamers, the jhoola receiving the
maximum attention. It was to be the divine baby’s cradle after all! With the
soft gaddi and tiny cushions (all handmade) –a throne meant for kings!
Krishna smiled mischievously as he sat in it; his Asht-dhatu body
glistening after several scrubs of lime, curd, milk, honey, and tears of
devotion. We sat up till midnight to welcome Gopal. Dholak,
manjeera, dancing and singing, infused infectious enthusiasm in the air. The music of bells and
conch shells sounded the sacred hour. Everyone took their turn at darshan
and aarti. Time stood still and our senses were enveloped in the sacred
beauty of that moment. Such moments left their marks on young minds and even
today strains of a soulful bhajan take us back to those moments of pure delight.
Spontaneously, the notes of an old school hymn strike a note: That’s how it is
with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it, you want to sing you feel like
spring, you want to pass it on …