Sri Krishna Jayanti Celebrations
Krishna's Birthday is a happy holiday, not a big one, but a delightful family-sort of celebration for the naughty boy Krishna, who will later emerge as a savior, to slay demons, drive the Chariot in the Mahabharata War and proclaim the most exalted of Hindu spiritual teaching in the Bhagavad Gita, and eventually be recognised as an avatar or god. This year on Sept 4 th , this naughty boy's birthday gave me two occasions to enjoy good company and good food, and immerse myself in the local colour and culture.
Late in the afternoon at Life Education Centre, I dropped in to find intricate kolams all over the floor, and little white footprints leading from the gate to the alter. There was an auspicious gathering of children and adults, Tamil Aurovilians, from Meenakshi and Harini, to many students and “graduates” of LEC, teachers from Isai Ambalam, and students and staff of Ilaignarkal Schol and Tamil Heritage Centre. A little boy was standing in fine regalia, in imitation of Krishna, holding his flute. Meenakshi recited in lilting Tamil Sri Aurobindo's poem on Krishna, and songs and hymns of Subramania Bharati (the famous Tamil poet) were sung as well as Vishnu Sahasranamam by the students of LEC. There were butter lamps, and chantings, and sweet poongal prasadam , as well as bananas and chickpeas to eat. Obviously it was fun to think of Krishna as a little boy, and to celebrate his coming. Not too different from Christmas spirit, when the coming of the savior is occasion for feeling very good indeed.
A little later that day I dropped into KOFPU (Kottakarai Organic Food Processing Unit), and was happily surprised to find another Krishna Jayanthi festival in progress. Anandi, our very own Tamil wise-woman and indigenous nutritionist, was guiding a little group of her Interns in the intricacies of the puja. They were initiated into how to make the little footprints, and set the alter. There too was not only the sound of flute in the ether, flowers and incense in the air, coconut water and curds at the alter, sweetmeats and fruits for the stomach – and the childlike atmosphere of innocence and love was evoked by halting singing of half-remembered chants.
Some historians talk of the “Axial Period” when all over the earth, in disparate cultures completely separated by geographic distance, history and language, there swept a new wave of consciousness, as the old gods of thunder and bluster who ruled by fear and were placated by bribes and praise, were superseded by a proclamation of Love, of Reason, of something else which included also the enemy in a sense of universality. Of course, this global insight has been developed and distorted differently in all the various cultures in which the seed was sown, but a birthday celebration for one of them revives the spirit of the new consciousness, and reminds us that we are in such a period again today.