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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Krishna Janmashtami thoughts...

Row after row of cotton towels dotted with little round dough balls spread on the floor; tubs, stainless steel pots and cauldrons holding sweets and snacks in various stages of completion; rowdy kids chasing each other about the house not very mindful of the elaborate preparations for the evening...

... the evening resounding with chants and songs about Krishna, the most adored and most resplendent of the avatars of Vishnu, according to mythology.

Those are some of my sweetest snapshots of Sri Krishna Janmashtami from my early childhood, say about Ana's age.

My dad has never been one for elaborate poojas and rituals, so much so that even going to temples is not a big deal to him. He believes in one-to-one (aathmartha) communications with the Divine. My mom on the other hand will not give up any traditional celebration/ritual handed down in her family, practicing it as a form of Bhakti Yoga, going all out, not holding back without proper justification.

I guess growing up with these two distinct approaches to festivals and rituals, I have managed to strike a balance where I don't feel guilty about not going all out, but, prefer not holding back if circumstances so arrange themselves and favor my efforts, and generally opt for a moderate celebration that satisfies the soul.

krishnashtamiUsually, Sri Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated in the Tamil month "Aavani" (the fifth month in a year in a traditional Tamil calendar), where somehow Rohini nakshatram manages to fall on an Ashtami (8th day after full moon/new moon).

But, if that doesn't happen, the date is somehow arrived at and announced in the local calendars.

And, today happens to be Sri Krishna Janmashtami, or Krishna's Birthday, as Ana likes to call it.

It was a quiet celebration at home, quieter than last year. Some favorite bhajans/songs/stotrams and a simple set of items for prasadam marked this favorite festival.

As Sri Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita (chapter IX, 26), Patram(Leaf), Pushpam(Flower), Phalam (Fruit) or Thoyam (Water), any of these offered with devotion is accepted by me affectionately.

The best part for me was that my mom took care of everything, I just had to get the kids dressed and make sure D comes over to round out the evening.

Now, a while back D's mom and I were talking about previous births and memories from previous birth lingering and appearing in our dreams etc.

Extending that thought, I have always felt that D was from a Palghat Iyer family in his previous birth. It surely explains how comfortable he is with my family's ways and my own personality which has been shaped by my upbringing.

He looks a natural in veshti, even in soman in pancha kacham, which he knows how to wear on his own and does it happily for occasions at home. And he easily slips into a colorful lungi, folded up in the comfortable local style, to go for a late evening walk with my dad.

Anyway, as my visit is coming to a close, I feel I haven't done any of the things I really should have done. Instead, I guess I have been fairly selfish.

Yeah, you guessed right, Guilt keeps gnawing...

My mom convinces me that days like these won't come back for Ana - to be carefree, no pressures of performing and excelling, no really rigid schedules to stick to, it is basically a long veg-out vacation. And that is what summers should be, so my mom says. My summers were the same way - pretty much eventless, all through my school life.

However, in today's cutting-edge world, with Theater Camps and Dance Camps and Swim Sessions and whatever else one can pack into a tiny little girl's life, it seems like I am taking away the advantage of all these extra activities by letting her just hang out with family, albeit in a culturally different setting, with enough sensory experiences to keep her mind alert, but still, nothing terribly structured and planned to provide her an edge in this cut-throat world...

That makes me feel like I have failed my little doll. But, C'est la vie, I guess...

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4 Comments:

At 6:50 PM, Blogger seeseebeehomestead said...

Sheela,

I 100% agree with aunty. Just taking things as it comes without any plans or schedule is a precious gift these days sheela.

You are constantly stimulating Ana thru creative activities, books and conversation throughout the year. She is a already smart girl and she has many summers in future for such activities.

This summer will be in her memories for ever since she had such one on one time bonding with her maternal grandparents and relatives.

My grandma died 30 years back but to this day , I remember her touch , her voice and her love and all the good time we had together. Those memories have very very special place in my heart and I can never forget them.

So please come out of your guilt mode and enjoy the rest of your vacation.

-CS

 
At 1:57 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Thanks NR's mom, you always have the right words to cheer up a friend!

Yeah, I am happy I got to do this - when else will I have the luxury to spend 8+ weeks at a stretch with my parents and kids, with no rigid schedule to follow, no place to be at any given time, and not have to do any cooking?!

 
At 5:20 PM, Blogger Tharini said...

Sheela...you haven't failedyour little doll. And you know that. Nothing can come close to what she has right now, with you and her grandparents. One day she will grow up and recount a memory fondly from this time. Just you wait and see! You can never do wrong when you're adopting simplicity. That's my belief!

 
At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Poppy said...

D a palghat iyer! I can believe that, having seen how comfy he looks :) (or atleast the pictures feel that way)

 

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