Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Govinda ala re!

(Picture from this story at The Hindu

Today was Janmashthami, the celebration of the birth of the Hindu god Krishna. It's a huge deal in Bombay, where around every corner, a pot full of curds, butter and money is tied between buildings and a tall human pyramid is formed to reach up to break the pot. The crowd goes crazy shouting "Govinda! Govinda! Govinda ala re!" (Govinda has come!) [In the various stories surrounding Krishna's childhood, he is described as makhanchor, the one who steals butter. Kinda like a divine cookie-jar thief ... :)]

I don't remember it being such a big festival up north, but it seems Janmasthami is now a big deal in Delhi as well. No Govinda pyramids, but it is a holiday, and there's street side shrines and pujas at every corner. It seems some of this is tied to a resurgence of a Hindu nationalist identity in recent years ... There was a simple aarti held at the brother's in-laws, where the children gathered to swing an elaborately decorated jhoola carrying an idol of the baby Krishna. There was also a clay pot tied to the ceiling, and the kids went nuts trying to break this sort of traditional piñada, and then collecing the rain of coins and sweets that fell down ...

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