Govinden FestivalPosted: November 1, 2007
Every year in Mauritius there is a one month fasting festival called Govinden from mid September till mid October dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is mainly celebrated by the Tamils and Telegus of the country, and year after year is being celebrated with more and more pomp.
The root of the festival is actually debatable. Some believe it is an equivalent of the Govardhana Puja, others claim that it was a way devised by our ancestors while they were still under colonisation to gather the community together and make sure rites and rituals were not lost. Still others believe it is a purely Vaishnavite festival.
Basically the festival involves a one month fasting for Lord Krishna, and then gathering each Saturday of the month in particular temples around the country for a night-long session of prayers and bhajanams. A huge kutuvillaku is kept lighted the whole night, with young girls and boys dancing kummi and kollatam around it, bhajanam groups from different parts of the country coming to sing, people making offerings to Lord Krishna and lighting diyas near him.
Govinden is actually one of my favourite festivals ever, and perhaps that of many other people too. If you have ever had the chance of being part of one then you’ll understand what I mean when I say it is a display of fervent devotion and at the same time an explosion of joy. In short, the festival ‘feels’ like Krishna. When I think of Govinden I think of how gorgeous the Lord Krishna murthi in my favourite temple always looked on the last Saturday of the Govinden festival; i picture the proud scintillating kutuvillaku surrounded by pretty pretty diyas; i remember colourful arrays of ghagra cholis, sarees and kurtas which threatened my already endangered eyesight; i smell incense and flowers; i remember the taste of burning hot tea and the numerous oily cakes i’ve savoured in the tents set up in the temple yards; i think of the 2am barefoot walks with my uncles, sisters and cousins from one temple to the other in the vicinity; i picture aunties and grannies prowling for potential daughter-in-laws; i hear beautiful music and beautiful voices singing the praises of Lord Krishna, i hear the rythm of kollatam sticks and joyful clapping of hands; i see skirts twirling around the kutuvillaku; i remember sly flirting and giggling. heh.
So this post is dedicated to
the comfort of my mom’s lap during the night prayers when my shoulders refused to hold my head any more.
the glasses of tea which i have enjoyed.
my sisters’ company.
all the love stories which kindled during Govinden festivals.
the sound of kollatam sticks and anklets.
Amma Selvom’s voice.
the numerous cute strangers i’ve eye-flirted with even while squished between my mom and my grandma.
the pebbles which have hurt my feet while running to Kovil ‘La rue la reine’.
the hope that i’ll be celebrating Govinden again.soon.
and to the beautiful saturday when this kollatam was performed.