Legend has it that today is Krishna’s birthday. The day he visits all houses and leaves baby footprints behind. In the past, Murukkus, Seedai and other goodies used to be made at home. Nowadays, it’s usually home delivery from Adyar Ananda Bhavan or Grand Sweets.
Now, being generally irreligious and all, Gokulaashtami (called Janmaashatmi in the North) used to interest me only from the Murukkus and Seedais perspective, but Krishna is overall a very interesting god (Note the lack of capitals). It is not often that cowboys born on the banks of the Yamuna score 16,004 chicks and then go on to speak profound wisdom on the battlefield to a certain confused Paandava. In Chennai terms, Krishna epitomized Jalsa. No Jilpa though. The man generally knew what he was talking about.
So this year, it being a holiday, I decided to get involved in this a bit further. My wife and me volunteered to draw the baby footprints from the gate to the pooja room.
Me: So what’s the normal way of drawing these footprints?
Mother: Normal baby footsteps from the gate to idol placed in the pooja room
Me: Wouldn’t a contemporary Krishna wear footwear of some kind? All of us do.
Mother: But not inside the house, do we?
My youngest brother: Ok. So we draw baby shoeprints till the entrance of the house, after which we shift to regular footprints.
Mother: (in a state of general bemusement and disbelief at our level of interest and involvement) Ok.
My youngest brother: Can we also draw footprints along the wall – Spideykrishna?
Mother: Um. No.
Me: Since Krishna generally cavorted around with multiple gopikas (Cowgirls), can we draw some extra girl footprints by his side?
So yeah. I know. I know. I am missing the whole point. The whole meaning. The whole intent. The whole symbolism. Etc. Etc. But the fact that I got a chance to be part of a tradition and bring my own contemporary twist to it (however pointless) is something good no? For a person who had no interest in this whatsoever, apart from the Murukkus and Seedais, i.e, the very fact that I got involved was interesting. Next year, I am thinking about Car tyre marks by the gate, then footprints from there. No. Perhaps, we should be environment friendly and draw bicycle tyre marks. In case I was abroad, perhaps I could draw footprints from whereever I was to my home on Google Earth.
Truth be told, this bit of jalsa from my side didn’t achieve much in the way of my understanding of Gokulaashtami but we had fun, without disrespecting anybody.
Anyway, we got started and soon enough and we realized that “Rice flour-on-floor” is a very challenging drawing medium. So our footsteps slowly became moderate leaps. Then they became Neil-Armstrongian giant leaps. But we finally finished, and here they are:
Update ps: I had a slight feeling that some readers might be offended by this whole shoe business, because people might the find the notion of mixing shoes with festivals rather blasphemous, but I wish to reiterate that no disrespect was meant. Afterall, babies do wear shoes when they go outside.
And then, K takes his shoes off (on the right), and then enters the house, using his right foot.