Happy B’day Butter thief! B’day?… nah Janmashtami; butterthief? Nah…makhan chor! The WCP (western culture phobic) can take a chill pill; even the west has no ‘cure’ for our festivals. Remember the Ganesh Chaturthi festival that became a focal point for the masses during the Indian struggle for independence? Maybe you don’t, but as a resident of Hindustan you can hardly escape the onslaught of these momentous annual celebrations. Mind you the word ‘Hindustan’ is a carefully chosen one, I personally am not a fan of any one religion, yet it has not escaped my notice that the Hindu religion, whatever it might not have, does have the most colourful profile vis-à-vis all the contemporary religions. And for a lot of Hindus the true import of religion in their lives is as good as its ceremonial equivalent.
Celebrations have a funny way of getting to you.. Imagine the absurdity of celebrating the b’day of a God like that of a new born child, I am sure you find it difficult to comprehend, it some how seems to be just the most apt thing to do. Right now the whole religious component of the festival is lost on me, the idea of a nation wide b’day party, has me chuckling. And it strikes me that the festival has been a success. For isn’t spreading joy the be all and end all of all festivals? Then taking the liberty and with due apologies to the little (big) one, I drift further. The morning telecasts of “Krishna” flash before me. I can’t help the laughter this time. Imagine standing with solemn reverence before the deity of one of the most sought after man of his time (and even later, Mirabai anyone?)
There may, for all my ignorance, exist 101 reasons why the festival is celebrated. Here is my list. It’s a celebration of relationships, from childhood to motherhood, from love to friendship. It celebrates illusions, a while world weaved around not even a wisp of fact? Where would you find such ingenuity? And accept it or not, the world loves its illusions just as much as you and I love ours. It celebrates life. I have no words to describe this one; if I could I would have painted Krishnaji in his world embracing avatar, the one he supposedly revealed to Arjun on the fateful day when the whole Bhagwad Gita was composed. To give our forefathers due credit, they wrote out a mythology more compelling than any Harry Potter book, all you need to do is look back with perspective and everything falls into place. How is one supposed to depict life to a human, except as a human?
Giving philosophy a much deserved break, the pragmatic endures. The chanting of the bhajans brings me back, to the pooja room and the topic. Festivals, which my mom contends are dying out. I fear her fear is real. After my parents generation I doubt the little that’s left of the festival in my life will survive. Or maybe it would. In essence I believe. In fact, to add a twist to the whole tragic story, let’s just say we might be following a circular path (religion never promised to be anything else anyway). We may be charged of materialism, but it seems that worshipping the ‘good life’ will never be out of season; festive or otherwise.