By Bhavana Bindra
It was around the same time last year… it had occurred to me that I wanted to share my Janmashtmi decorations (simple as they were) with someone beyond the little family that exuded similar enthusiasm as me in actually executing them for the pleasure of the mischievous, smiling God as we all know him. Home-bound as we all and our friends were, there was of course whatsaap to show it all off, but then, was there something else which allowed people to choose to not respond if they didn’t feel like, to what you felt was a very close connect (broadcasting lists apart).
Yes, the ubiquitous FB was an experiment I decided to indulge in on this special occasion… and then there was no looking back. Anything you felt good about, proud about, wise about, emotional about, made an appearance there. And then of course begins the anxiety and trauma of not resisting tracking of those who felt it was worth responding to. Folks you knew well, didn’t know well, knew-of-their existence, didn’t-know-they existed… they were all given a blanket right to comment, like (maybe dislike), love, or react in whichever form they wished to, or not at all. Its amazing… the power you give in hands of those who may not otherwise matter, because those who did matter would anyways find ways and means to make you feel that you did matter.
In that sense, social media is not too different from small town India. The difference perhaps is just the fact that one actually may volunteer information unlike in our small towns when information would be available to all and sundry from sources who’s existence may have so far (and perhaps will always be) unknown. In fact, the best part remains people’s perception of their rights in actually using such data for discussions with the said individuals. They said such pockets of involvement exists in the maximum city too but are more discerning depending upon your own desire to be involved with or let’s say included in them.
If it wasn’t for the umpteen wishes that poured into whatsapp wishing us Happy Janmashtmi, I wouldn’t have realized the day it was today. You see growing up, the only reason we celebrated the day was because it was also the birthday of my mother. Refraining from non-vegetarian food (our way of showing sacrifices to honour the God mostly into milk products) and perhaps partaking in some homemade dessert was what we indulged in. The rest was dependent upon the school granting us leave- and know that Catholic schools aren’t prone to entertain leave requests for such frivolous festivals. You see, given the plethora of Gods we Hindus worship, there is a high likelihood that we would be very busy almost on each day of the year if we continued celebrations.
But not to deny the fact that we still look forward to the celebrations with little children dolled up as the God and his consort (I seemed to have missed that boat as a child). Also, we have had celebrations with much salvo of “dahi handi” or emulating the Lord himself breaking the proverbial pot containing his favourite consumable (not to mention some breaking bones in the process). There is of course the question on why childhood obesity was not a concern during those times, especially given the amount of butter consumed by our mischievous Lord. Perhaps the exercise involved in climbing up to actually extricate the goodies may have helped as would have the fact that early morning sojourns with the cattle required one to undertake much walking across (perhaps) hilly climes – considered much important for health.
So between walking, climbing, playing the flute and of course dancing with all the friends (including several girls) our little Lord seems to have made his way in our hearts for centuries to come. Not just because of his endearing self, but the fact that there is much that he symbolizes, which we adulate. For example, the story of his birth itself tells us how one can make it happen against all odds- a lesson to learn for several who give up too easily or find the more convenient paths to follow too early.
Then there is the instance of protection provided to his kinsmen by lifting the Govardhan mountain when Lord Indra expressed his wrath; this, knowing fully well that the wrath itself was the result of Krishna having convinced his fellow villagers to not worship Indra (in return for rains which are a natural phenomenon) and rather focus on what their duty was.
It is, for instance, believed, that the peacock feather which always adorned his headgear was a gift presented to him by the peacocks in return for enabling them to dance with his melodious flute-playing. Of course there are multiple interpretations of what the peacock feather symbolizes, but each of us chooses to believe what we do.
And that pretty much is what we humans symbolize- a choice that we make- whether to believe or to do- we have the choice. Which God we believe in and how we show our reverence to them has been a choice several of us make. But then there are several others who are forced to follow or rather our made to believe by others what is the best for them. We created our Gods and their stories based on centuries of wisdom to derive learnings that are relevant even in today’s days and times.
In fact, the advent of social media should have just made it easier to exchange some of these learnings. Perhaps, it is time we use it to “share” what we know and learn what we don’t. But that may only be possible if we step out of the vicious circle of “likes” that may not matter and “comments” that don’t add value, at the end of the day. The choice after all is ours to make!