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Celebrating Krishna Janmashtami with Milaan School Teachers at Amberpur

The following is an opinion piece by Milaan School Leadership Team Member, Akshay Shetty. His experience with the community that supports the Milaan School is recounted on the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami.

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The people of Amberpur gather to celebrate.

A significant part of my role as a member of the Milaan School’s leadership team entails interactions with the local community, where our students come from. The cluster of villages that surround the school constitute the base of Milaan’s outreach in Sitapur. Having lived at the school’s guesthouse in Amberpur for over two months, I have pretty much established myself as a resident of the village.

My engagements with the community led us to the village’s Krishna Janmashtami celebrations in a 250 year-old temple run by the family members of one of our school teachers, Kanchan Shukla.

Kanchan’s humble invitation gave us no inkling whatsoever of the absolutely enchanting experience that the night would end up being. We reached her house around 8.00 pm. The Krishna bhajans were already in full swing. Villagers, young and old, had congregated at the temple’s small courtyard with their dholaks, harmoniums and cymbals. As usual, there were no lights, save for a small petromax lamp. But nothing could dampen the spirits of devouts, not even the frequent power cuts.

The atmosphere was surreal. Far, far away from the glamour and scale of similar celebrations in bigger cities, there was this nondescript village showing us what devotion truly means to them.

As the clock struck twelve, Krishna was born. The temple bells were rung, the aarti was performed and the villagers cheered. There was jubilation all around; as if something unprecedented had just occurred. It took me back to some beautiful lines from Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things:

“…the secrets of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones that you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

That is their mystery and their magic.”

 

I discovered that magic. And I shall never be able to forget it.

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