Monday, September 06, 2004

Krishna Jayanthi

It reminds you of those small little legs running from the front door into the puja room .. doesn't it ?

My ma draws the Lord. Krishna legs in a jiffy. She must've learnt it from my grand'ma. I have been recently told by 'someone' that krishna legs can also be put on the floor using the hand itself.

Some years ago we used our neighbors infant kid to draw the krishna legs on the floor. We just dipped his legs onto the 'kolam' white 'maavu' vessel and made him slowly walk from the front door to the kitchen.

Sweets and other food items are the best part of krishna jayanthi, which is also called as Gokulashtami and/or Janmashtami.

These ladies seem to have the start time synced up for sweet preparation. My great grandma' living 3 streets away from where my mom lives.. has a stop watch with her. Come the time and she will blow a whistle wich will ring across all parts of the world. Its not the traditional whistle but its more like a "coeeeee" shout that tarzan does so often. This whistle reaches the ladies across the planet who are eagerly waiting in the patio/balcony for the "coooeeee" kick off.

At once, all the ladies, including my grand'ma and ma rush from their balconies to the kitchens and get down to work and start preparing sweets n' stuff. They work for hours and hours to produce food stuff by the tonnage. The empty vessels, lined up the previous day, slowly start getting filled up. Phone Calls are made to check the progress and status of other women in the world. Almost always somebody is running behind time on "Mysore paak".

There is always that "oooh! i put too much of this in that".. like my mom! put too much of mundri (kaaju) in the sweet. But these mistakes are restricted to the younger folks. The older ladies never make mistakes, its all fine tuning for them! They work on specialized items which the younger ones are still learning. My grandma' has attained levels of perfection unknown to many of her contemporaries. This krishna jayanthi , she calibrated the "murkku" contents to 'atomic' and 'sub-atomic' levels and made sure the salt-spice-other stuff mixture was perfectly mixed. A little less salt neutrons on the circumference and my granny would get kicked out of her country club presidency.

Bang! at 6:00 clk my great grandma' blows the whistle like gandalf throwing lightning from his stick! And the women stop preparing sweets. Its time for Lord Krishna to be invited for dinner. The men enter into the action now and start performing puja.

Meanwhile , deprived hungry kids like me, unaware of the process related issues, are still waiting for the payload. The payload comes at the blow of the third whistle by which the men folk claim that Lord.Krishna is done with the sweets and the lesser mortals can have a shot at it.

Boy! the delta-time between the third whistle and the contents of the vessels decreasing cannot be measured. As the phone network get jammed by ladies who are calling each other to ask " how did this come out".."how was this". We get to dig into the payload and tell them real time. Still they are unsatisfied.. these women. They send out the men folk to other houses to collect samples of sweets and savories prepared elsewhere to determine their relative grade point average.

For me it dont matter if its a sample from outside or the real thing made at home. I can eat them all. Here I am back in bangalore with loot from home. I look at the big packet of sweet lying in my kitchen and I am thinking, " in 2 days baby! you'll all be mine". I then let out an evil laugh b4 I start to work.

As I started back to Bangalore, I couldn't help feeling a little misty. My heart was heavy. These functions do this to me.. you know! These traditions and functions have survived for 2000 years. Now thats a long time. We have been invaded a thousand times, earth quakes and all that.. But still the people kept going with these functions! Thats because they wanted to.

Now the battle is within. Somewhere between checking real estate values and stock quotes the software engineer generation may one day simply stop celeberating. They will just stop. Contrast that with todays older folks doing their bit to accrue karmic benefits and the future looks a little sad. 50-60 years from now this grandma' generation maybe gone and the new generation will be saying " oh! Deepavali. That was cool while it lasted. But we don't celeberate it anymore. Some dude who wanted press attention rebelled against crackers. Another dude filed a law suit againt anybody cookin sweets in residential areas. Lighting candles is banned by the state law. Sure we still have autorikshaws emitting lead-loaded-smoke, cigerrete smokers just puffing out every body outlet, children working as labourers in agarbathi and match stick factories. we didnt wanna stop these daily activities to celeberate a stupid one off deepavali. we just blew off deepavali itself."

Traditional functions depended heavily on women to carry them through to completion. With advent of the career women these functions are threatened by lack of support. Men don't share the work load either to keep it going. Men are lazy! Men watch MTV and read arbit philosophy, playboy mags and just watch everything die. I am actually afraid to be part of the generation that killed it all.

Are we the video that killed the radio star!


Jyotsna said...

Excellent post ...I do think we are a generation that is going to let everything die. I am a working woman, a journo at that ...I am so guilty sometimes when I don't celebrate somthings...My husband just says u cannot do everything ...but I do think there is bound to be an emptiness in our children's lives....
First timer at your blog ...excellent


Hawkeye said...

recently when I got interested in learning the Gita and slokas ( like sahasranamam and hanumath chalisa), I asked a couple of my friends how they knew it so well. Their answer surprised me.

he said "every morning for 15 years when I have been getting up and going to school/college I have been hearing my father say it aloud in the puja room. So without even stepping into the puja room to conciously learn it, I knows everything by-heart".

I was stunned on hearing that. It shows the impact of parents customs on childrens life. If children happen to be curious about tradition and some 20 years later (like i am now) and tell their serious-career-minded parents(like i told my dad) "if you had done it ragularly.. i would also know it very well by now".. it will be a tough situation for the parents.

The bank accounts/power/prestige/social_status will look less important than it was ..b4 such a question was asked.

having said all this.. i have to say your hubby is right.. if my wife starts working we will have to put in a lot of extra work during festivals.

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