Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Totter Potter, "ala" Govinda!

There's been a current in the air. I can hear far-off drum beats since morning. Any Indian knows that means a festival and definite excitement. Occasionally, loud, rowdy cheers waft in through my window although I cannot see the young boys (for that is what they sound like) who are so happy! Since noon, people have been going to their balconies and windows and peering down to see what's going on. A while back, some young boys and girls and uncle-auntys began to line the lane behind our house. I could tell something was about to happen.

This is Bombay, and today is Janmashtami. Need I say more by way of explanation?

Finally, a bunch of young men arrived in the lane and began chanting Goouuuuvindaaaa, Goouuupaaaalaaa, Goouuuuvindaaaa, Goouuupaaaalaaa. Then they began demanding water in this novel fashion:"V for water, V for water!"

Hmmm....anyway, this post isn't about the alphabet.

I had heard that the real show happens in more crowded, typically Maharashtrian areas. The boys who do the climbing and breaking are absolute pros, and I believe they are sometimes even insured against a fall resulting from a shaky human pyramid!
Still, I was rather excited to notice a pot strung up on a rope that went across the lane behind our house. So there was going to be action in that sleepy by-lane!!!
I wanted to see it all, properly. But I didn't want to run downstairs and risk missing the event. So I climbed shakily on to the kitchen counter for a better view as the youths assembled.

I needn't have worried. Since they were not pros, it took them a considerable while to get organised and manage the feat. Enough time for me to fetch my camera, even! Several permutations and combinations were attempted, and several falls were broken, just about.
As a thin group of spectators watched, a nimble-footed guy, who reminded me of Mowgli from The Jungle Book, darted up, using the others' elbows, thighs and shoulders as footrests, and in a swift move had reached the handi or pot suspended above him. He hung on to it for sometime, and then smashed it.

Bright red gulal came down in powdery gusts and streaked the team with scarlet. There were loud cheers, much clapping and everyone went home.

My little group of amateurs will certainly not make it to the news or to images of Mumbai on Janmashtami that will be splashed on newspapers tomorrow. I don't know if they got any money as a reward for their participation, as is the usual custom. But they seemed to enjoy themselves. And it is the spirit that counts. They lived Janmashtami for those few moments, and I got a window-seat to view it all from!


OrangeJammies said...

And thanks to you, I got to celebrate it as well! Because all I can hear from the bed I'm currently laid up on is loud cheers and passing trucks but I don't get to see any action. Thank you, girl!

anja said...

Thanks for the Janmashtami post it was a trip down memory lane, I used to get deliriously excited as a child watching the human pyramid and listening to the pounding drums...second only to the hypnotic sounds of the Ganesh Chaturthi processions...aaah I miss Bombay.

Anamika said...

OJ, Anja, you're welcome. Nice to know I could do some good reporting for people missing out on the action!

Tharini said...

You write so beautifully Ana. Just that little bit of introspection weaved in to a reality account. Very immaculate and pleasing.

Just a tidbit : Symbolism of the breaking of the pot in spiritual terms quoted from the article I had read...Our own worldliness, our mind full of ego, our own achievements, and our own ideals - we hang them high from a ceiling! So high that sometimes we don’t even want God to come and touch it! But when God is with His playmates He may decide to break the pot! He breaks the pot and then spills all that has filled our mind – our ego, our pride – He tramples on them and then He runs away.

Anamika said...

Tharini: I like that symbolism. And also, the pot is so fragile that we carry it and its contents mindful of breakage. But it is so easy to smash it out of our lives :)

Squiggles Mom said...

That's brought back beautiful memories of my time in BBY. Janmashtami was such an exciting time.... truckloads of buys keep going around trying to break matkas. Until then I thought it only happened in the movies!

Anamika said...

Squiggle's Mom: I know, even I had a very filmy concept of it in my head. Then reel life met real life!! (Don't I sound like HT City here!)