Tomorrow is Sri Krishna Janmashtami. There will be a small and short puja at our place at night.
Janmashtamis used to be different back then, in Kasi. There are a few traces left at home. There are plastic toys, hot wheels race track and cars, a few clay toys and idols and some coke pieces for making the mountains and caves around the toy railway track. That’s all. The various coloured wood shavings, so carefully stored in plastic and tin containers, are not in the third storey’s room that was used to store such things. The old wooden almirah whose drawers used to hold the small baked clay and plastic toys now has no traces of them. The electric light bulbs used for Janmashtami decoration are long gone.
Time erases a lot and leaves no traces, except for what the mind remembers, and then, even that.
One uncharacteristic thing about this post of mine is the complete absence of any images in it. I don’t have any. We don’t celebrate Janmastami the good old Kasi way at other places. So no photographs of the present or the near past. We did not care enough while we were living the moment to take preserve it too. So, no photographs, not even one, of the past Kasi Janmashtami celebrations and decorations.
I (ironically) was not the one who used to participate most actively in the celebrations and the decoration process. My mother had introduced the tradition to the house, and us brothers to the tradition. My mother, brother, Rajesh (Sonu) and Budo were the persons who, I now remember, used to work on decorating one of the rooms with various toys, festoons, electric bulbs and other things. I had participated only for two or three initial years in the process, and then I had “grown up”.
Suraj Bua had introduced me to the concept of using coloured fine wood shavings to prepare the geometric patterns on the floor on which the toys were decorated later. Before she had given me some wood shavings, we used to put marble paper on the floor. Well, the change was aesthetically better. Again, it was she who had given me a small clay wrestler for my Janmashtami decoration. Other than that, I had all plastic toys. Again, the change was aesthetically better.
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