My Confused Thoughtz

September 26, 2008

Mine... Yours... Our... INDIA

Scenes from India - The Big Picture - Boston.com

Any and every Indian should take a look at the above link. I mean it! My words and writings will be insufficient and will definitely not do justice to explain the pictures and thought process behind each and every one of the 34 pictures. Beautiful/unprocessed photography with a meaning is hard to find today but each one of these pictures exemplify every thing that India is today... and of course leaves behind a question... do you want India to be like this in the future?

I hail from Mumbai. As a result I know and have actively participated in the delightful moments and intricacies of the 'Ganesh Chaturthi' and the 'Janamashtami' festival. These festivals although well celebrated across the country hold special and large scale attention in Mumbai.

Now, I am not going to bore you with dates, facts and figures and cultural history of these festivals (You might as well find it on Wiki).I want to write about how these festivals affect the common household (mine being one of them).

Janamashtami -
You all know this is Lord Krishna's birthday. So, we are supposed to be ready by early morning (9:00 - 9:30 in my view is early). My mother informs me: "You are supposed to fast today. No salty items/no chocolates". "Yipee!!!", I say. Confused eh? Well it goes like this. A fast for us Gujjus is a whole day with the best of goodies that can ever be found. It includes fruit salad with the tastiest of fruits, special home made sweets (Kheer/Shreekhand/Laddoos/Halwa etc. etc.), special fasting food called 'farshan'... The whole day goes like this. In the end I end up eating more than I ever do on a normal day. Best way to celebrate Lord Krishna's birthday isnt it? Anyway he stole so much curd and all so he doesnt have any right to complain! Of course this way of fasting is just me and other kids who dont fast rigorously. Older people do it on a stricter scale and more religiously (but we'll leave it to them okie).

So now, comes the main part. Filling millions of balloons with water and making them ready. This is for the 'Govindas' (24th and 25th picture in the site). It goes like this: Societies tie a handi/matki (filled with curd/milk/sweets) across 2 buildings or at the top of the tree(It is quite high up; The highest in Mumbai goes upto the seventh or eighth storey). Then a group of Govindas (Krishna devotees) are invited to the building and their job is to make human pyramids and break the matki. Whilst doing this the residents of the building make it harder for them to reach the matki by throwing water ballons/milk balloons/buckets of water with such force that they loose their balance and fall. This is a team effort from the residents of the entire society.
I stay on the eighth floor. Pretty cool and very advantageous. So the kids of the eighth floor group together (we were four rascals) and we sit together and analyse our strength (number of balloons we have bought the previous day). We divide them equally and then each one goes to their bathrooms and start filling up their balloons with water. A pretty tedious process I assure you especially for the mothers whose clean house early in the morning now looks like a mini Pacific Ocean. We would have just finished the preparations when we hear: 'Govinda Aala Re aala..." and we run to our balconies only to find out that they would be in the neighboring society. We watch gleefully and wait for them to come to ours. They do and with all pomp and show. They dance, they fool around and they sing songs. At this time the music is relaxed. Suddenly you hear a difference in the music being played. It gets more concentrated and faster. Our heart beats start racing (as mine is right now while typing this and visualising the scene). This is a cue for the 'govindas' to start the process of 'breaking the matki'. They form the first layer, then the second more experienced people climb and form a layer on top of them, then the third. Now, is the precise time to start raining balloons and water. The smallest and lightest of them all climbs the final tier and slosh! a racing balloon from an experienced thrower throws him off his balance and down he goes tumbling taking the tier with him.

They dance a little again and start the process all over. This goes on three-four times depending on when our balloons and expertise get exhausted or when they get the better of us. Finally, they break the matki finish the curd and milk and with the same enthusiasm and procession make their way out to another building.

On a completely different note here - Dont kill me please - But, I could not help wondering. What the hell are we doing learning all these team management and team building skills and techniques in big big companies? What training? What sessions have these guys attended to render them so harmonious and so well co-ordinated with their team? As I mentioned before some matkis are at a height of seven storeys. So the top most person's life is literally controlled by his 'team-mates' below. If he falls, he breaks his head. But till date we have not heard a single casualty to have occurred on Janamashtami day. When the top person falls people below are always ready and on their guard to help him. The human tiers formed are very well rehearsed and synchronised. How about inviting them to give us a session?
So after they leave there is pretty much nothing else to do other than eat all yummy things I mentioned before (am writing all this without any regard to your watering mouth I know). Also, I know you are thinking of being invited to my house for next Janamashtami but No! Thank You! :-)
Jaishreekrishna!

Ganesha Chaturthi -
I have relatively less to write on this one and by this time I am sure you all are already bored. Anyway, the thing that intrigues me is the precision, creativity and skill that goes in making each Ganesha for this special 10 day festival. Devotees get a Ganesha idol of their choice made and do Pooja for 10 days. The tenth day is the day of immersion. On the tenth day all families with their Ganeshas proceed towards the sea. With each Ganesha accompany a lot of relatives, friends and merrymaking and great dancing. Smaller families take small Ganeshas whilst big temples and organisations have idols which are several feet in size and are made beautifully with a lot of thought and sometimes based on a central theme.
Our father used to take us to watch the immersion process. We used to stand at one side of the road where there is a junction so we can see the passing idols.
There was a Ganesha once that was made with lakhs and lakhs of 25 paise coins. It was a remarkable 10 foot long idol and was making its way slowly for immersion. It has always remained in my memory. There are several others too, like in the first picture in the website the Ganesha is depicted to be a form of Lord Krishna. Another one made the Ganesha look like a King dressed in royal robes. Various other combinations and innovative idols are made. If you are interested please write to me. I will forward some links on the making of each idol.
The festival goes on all night long till early morning and then too you will see some remnants of this beautiful and memorable day.
Bolo Shree Ganesh Ki Jai!

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6 Comments:

  • i always wondered what people were doing on Ganesh Chathurthi. This gave some sort of an insight.
    And the janmashtami thingabout govinda's , i thought the people of the neibourhood only formed that pyramid... now i have a better view..
    thanks...

    I am sure u wer still dressed up as a boy on all these festival days also...

    By Blogger Rahul S. Nair, At September 26, 2008 at 7:20 AM  

  • :) Your brief explanation is vivid enough! I could imagine the whole 'matki' breaking scene. And I could imagine you throwing the water filled ballon from the thirteenth floor only to see it fall short by a hundred yards atleast :D Nice reading this.. I would love to see the celebration once with my own eyes and experience the rush!

    By Blogger Maverrick, At September 28, 2008 at 10:25 PM  

  • Well written, but too many brackets distracting what would otherwise have been a pleasant read.

    When u taking me to Bombay?

    By Blogger Sandeep Pillai, At September 30, 2008 at 4:36 AM  

  • Is the blog alive ?

    By Blogger shaaaaaaam, At December 20, 2008 at 8:07 AM  

  • Hey, the post on janmashtami is amazing! Very very well written.. kudos! :)

    By Blogger ahalya, At February 15, 2009 at 9:17 AM  

  • Hey Malkan (sorry I cant think of you any other way). Dont ask me how i stumbled upon your blog but i did (this is raj btw, large noisy girl from 10C :P ). Do drop me a mail sometime :). How is your job going?

    The connection through a blog might be tenous but I'm glad its there. take care.

    By Blogger raj, At February 18, 2009 at 3:27 PM  

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