Beautifully decked up Gopis (aka galz of the city), gleaming lights spread across temples, the aroma of delicacies being prepared in the kitchen, the festivity in the air, and enjoying it all from his jhoola, our cuties pie Laddoo Gopala, with a flute in his hand and a cherubic smile on his face…
Being born and brought up in Delhi, Janmashtmi has always been a big affair for me. I have lost track of the time since when have I been fasting every Janmashtmi. As a kid, my house was near the famous Birla Mandir of Delhi. Every Janmashtmi, I used to be up and ready in my new clothes, pestering papa to take me to temple. At that age, more than the bhajans and puja, I used to look forward to the lovely Jhoolas right outside the temple. Birla Mandir used to have some amazing moving Jhankis, one of their kind at that time. Many TV channels and thousands of devotees used to flock the temple garden to catch a glimpse.
Post examining each Jhanki & enjoying the yummy Prasad came the best part – the Jhoolas and the fair outside the temple! With a twinkle in my eyes I would rush to each jhoola. I was super greedy about the Giant wheel and loved the butterfly in the stomach feel whenever the jhoola came down at a great speed. Every circle meant waiving to Papa, who would patiently wait downstairs, lovingly watching his bundle of joy enjoying the ride! I had to be forced to return home where mom would be busy preparing delicious food!
We shifted to the new house & the joy of jhoolas and temple jhankis was replaced by our very own jhanki! Me and my friends would spend the whole day creating jhanki out of household stuff. Blue surf detergent used to create river, toys to create villagers…the jhanki would be complete with a small boy & girl dressed as Radha and Krishna. As neighbourhood aunties flocked to our jhankis & appreciated our creativity, we would swell up with pride at our labour of love! Some generous aunty would sponsor the Prasad which was distributed after the midnight pooja.
Those were the days…
And now…amidst the hustle bustle of the city swelling with new inhabitants everyday, the charm of Janmashtmi has reduced to watching live coverage from temples on TV. Grandmother’s bhajans have been replaced by “Radha on the dance floor”. But I’m glad the charm of the festival remains, albeit with a modern twist (oops remix) to it!
Once or twice, we tried going to the good old Birla Mandir & Iskcon temple, but the swarm of people overcrowding the temple premises left me feeling claustrophobic. The delicious preparations are still made, just that they are now prepared by me and my mom in law. With frequent security threats, the common man now fears to venture out in crowded places on such days. Even the local Gopis feel unsafe with many a Kansas hovering around the city!
As I look at Lord Krishna enjoying his maakhan mishri , I wonder and say “Is this your Gokul?” where the Kansas have outnumbered the Krishnas
The Gopi inside sings a silent song –
Kansa bharey chaaron or (Kansas hovering around everywhere),
Kare humein pareshan, machayein shor (Troubling us),
Chalao Sudarshan bachao humein, lao chain chaaron or (Use ur Sudarshan wheel and save us),
Coz this Gopi wants a safe city once more!