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Janmashtami Celebration in India’s Small Cities By Gitanjali Banerjee

Gitanjali Banerjee presents an honest and hilarious account of Janmashtami celebrations in a small city in Northern India, Uttarkashi for our writing prompt #Festicity.

When we were kids Janmashtami celebration was an event of hyper excitement and enthusiasm. Jhanki decoration ideas, planning, material collection and execution began days ahead. Door to door fund collection and daily practice for the cultural program was our top priority. Ah! Gone are the days of such elementariness and excitement.
Well, this year I was invited to a Janmashtami celebration organized by Uttarkashi Police and it brought back such nostalgia. The simplicity, youth involvement and reverence in Janamashtmi celebration as seen here can only be found in a small city.


Ingenious Jhanki Decoration
Simple decoration items were used to adorn the temple area. The stuff used was not expensive but surely required lot of time, effort and manpower to execute. I was reminded of how I would think out of the box ideas every year to decorate the temple with flowers, rangoli, diwali lights and paper decorations. Jhanki was staged in our verandah and random strangers visited and appreciated our creativity and use of science. My personal favourite were those small boats moving around in water and the Kansh karagar (Jail in which Kansh had imprisoned Krishna’s parents).
The Procession

Girls and boys styled as Radha, Krishan and Gopi were made to sit atop a tempo with loud bhakti songs playing and paraded around the city. The kids were totally in the character, playing flute and giving blessings.

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Cultural Program and Orchestra

School kids practice and prepare at least a month in advance to perform on the stage. The program popularly known as Orchestra invariably begins with a performance on a religious song, thereafter followed by tadak-bhadak Bollywood dance numbers. The interesting part of every orchestra would be the host – a super excited person who feels free to say anything and everything on mike, recite lame shayari and stupid jokes but is always cheered the loudest.

“Arre bhai taaliyan ki aawaz sunai nahi di, bhookh lag gayi kya? Jara ek baar aur joordar taaliyon se swagat kariye hamare agle nanhe kalakar ka” (basically persuading the audience to clap louder)

And who won’t remember these? 

“Hello, Hello, mic testing, 1, 2, 3…1,2,3…”

“Ek chota sa chutkula jab tak backstage hamare artist ready ho rahe hain” (I’ll recite a tiny joke while our artists get ready backstage) (said in a heavy modulated voice).

Excited Parents All Around
Excited parents (that also includes me) dressed their kids as Krishna and flaunted them everywhere. Though the kids looked divine but I sometimes think what must be going on inside their mind, “Kya joker bana diya. Itni garmi bhi lag rahi hai iss dress mein. Arre mummy, aap ka ho gaya ho toh mujhe please shorts and ganji mei change kar do” (Mom, it’s too hot and I’m wearing this heavy dress. If you’re done with the hullaballoo, please change me into tees and shorts)

Thus I enjoyed my Janmashtami in simple desi style.

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