The more I age, the more my childhood seems to comprise of faint memories. But some memories are seemed to be etched in my mind, as if afresh, as if the events that play in my mind, have transpired into existence, the very last night. It’s not that such events have transpired frequently,Â but the truth is that, even if these memorable occasions have occurred on a yearly basis, they definitely held an essence strong enough that I could not only trace myself back to those moments but rather seem to remember, even the taste of delicacies prepared on that day, and the holy smells that seemed to linger in the aura. There is one birthday, that my remembrance is quite fond of. A birthday unlike any other. A holy birthday. A pious birthday. A mythical birthday. I believe, Lord Krishna have always found His way into the hearts of young and old alike. The children like his early escapades, the elders are fond of his verses that are immortally compiled into the holy Gita. It is His birthday, that we celebrate on the occasion of Janmashtami. It is Janmashtami and its processions that I very well remember, and owing to all that I can reminiscence, I tend to narrate, what transpired in my household during this very occasion.
Firstly, when I was a kid and was still in school, the day of Janmashtami was marked as a holiday. Hence, on the eve of the occasion in question, I used to take my place on my father’s scooter, that is, the little me, standing before him, and we used to make our way to the hustle-bustle of the marketplace, that was booming with life, for like us, swarms of crowds were present there, to buy essentials and Janmashtami gifts for the festivity that was due to ensue the very next day. I remember, we always started with fruits and ended with sweets. When a very religious festival is celebrated in the Indian culture, fruits, as well as an assortment of traditional sweets, are a must presence in an Indian household. In the midst of our shopping spree, we used to make several stops in front of innumerable vendors, who specialized in the trade of selling clothes and accessories for the figurines of Lord Krishna. At our home, we had two Krishana idols, both molded beautifully out of brass, heavy but same as the size of a grown up’s palm. Hence, we were in need of a pair of clothes, a pair of crowns (that are, in turn, crowned by a peacock feather) and a pair of minuscule replica of flutes, for Lord Krishna was known to be quite a subtle flute pair. We chose the best we could discover, keeping in mind that the color of clothes that we bought last year, don’t get repeated this year. After buying the clothes and before purchasing the sweets, we used to buy an assortment of items that comprised of milk, dry fruits, et al, for you got to buy them if you want to relish homemade delectable delights, the next day. After we came home and though my eyelids gave in to the heavy drowsiness that arrived accompanied with sleep, the thoughts that swam in my subconsciousness, desired that when I next open my eyes, the festive morning laden with the joyous prospects of Janmashtami, embraces me, welcoming me to look forth to a delightful day.
The day of Janmashtami began with cleansing. Cleaning of the house was the first task that was allotted to us children. Scrub the floors so that they appear to wear a shine, dust all the objects so that they are all free of even a speck of dust. With that complete, clean yourself. After taking long baths and evolving as a whole new individual, one had to cleanse your soul. Since it was Lord Krishna’s birthday, one had to pray to him, sort of wish him, and promise him to free themselves of all ill-will. All this while, my mother was busy in the kitchen. That meant we were going to be treated with mouth-watering food throughout the day. She used to prepare kheer, paneer, pooris, et al along with ‘panjeeri’, a sweet prepared with flour and dry fruits and ‘charnamrut’ – a drink prepared with milk, curd, and dry fruits. My father arrived with strings of flowers, mostly composed of roses and marigolds and we helped him decorate the place where the evening rituals were to take place. Since most of the Godly figurines we had in possession were composed of bronze, we used to clean them with water and lemon extracts. I remember, they used to shine like gold after we were done with them. By the time evening arrived, we would have had already dressed Lord Krishna in His new clothes – both of them and Radhe Krishna idols along with other Gods, held the center stage in the place where the ‘puja’ would commence in a matter of hours. So, when midnight arrived, all our family would gather around the congregation of Gods, aartis would inflame and all the children would choose a musical instrument of their choice and start playing, with everyone around chanting the aarti, composed of pious words and soulful themes.
Many years have passed and those days and moments are histories. But in memories they live, in hope, they breathe and sometimes I feel that if I get lucky enough someday, to be back with my family on the day of Janmashtami, then I shall relish those moments with the same vigor and glee, that I used to, when I was a child.