Celebrating Lord Krishna in Nepal
BY: RUPA KHAREL
Aug 11, CENTRAL INDIA (OHMY) A citizen reporter recounts her experience of a Nepali Jhula Jhulaune ceremony.
One or two weeks before Krishna Janmasthami (birthday of Lord Krishna, Aug. 16) there is a tradition known as Jhula Jhulaune, the swinging of Lord Krishna by putting his image in a cradle. Krishna Janmasthami is the seventh day after the full moon and either falls in Shrawan (fourth month) or Bhadra (fifth month).
Jhula Jhulaune is not a ceremony performed by all Nepalese, but it is carried out by some ritual loving people who call all their neighbors and relatives to watch. Fortunately I was also called by my neighbor and got a chance to observe it carefully on Aug. 7.
Why Jhula Jhulaune is done only to Krishna and not to other gods is made clear by the following story.
There is a long story about Krishna in the Holy Book of Hinduism (Gita and Mahabharat). The maternal uncle of Lord Krishna, Kansha wanted to kill Krishna knowing that the young boy would kill him after reaching maturity.
So the uncle sent different devils and a mad elephant to kill Krishna, but nothing happened to him, Krishna even killed them and sent them back to Kansha.
During his childhood Krishna not only killed devils, he also did lots of other amazing things to save the people around him. So Jhula Jhulaune is done for only one god, Krishna, not for other gods.
In this ceremony, the image of Krishna is kept inside the cradle and the ritual is to swing the cradle by the ribbon attached to the bar of the cradle, just like swinging a baby.
The organizer of the ceremony I attended was my friend's mother, Parmeshwori Bista. She said: "We are doing this ceremony of Jhula Jhulaune thinking that Lord Krishna is small." I asked her why she was doing this ceremony one week before Krishna's birthday.
"It is just like a welcome party knowing that he is being born on Aug. 16," she said.
Most women were wearing green clothes, but those who weren't had decorated their hands with green glass bangles while some married women were seen in green (pote) glass beads with other colored saree because green is the best color to wear in the month of Shrawan.
Not only that, those who had swung Krishna in the cradle put green tika spots on their foreheads. In other ceremonies, we wear red tika.
During the whole day, about 100 devotees gathered and clapped their hands giving company to the professional singers, while some were dancing to the melody of bhajans (devotional songs for god).
Three professional singers were called on for this ceremony and their work was to sing Bhajans, especially during the Jhula Jhulaune ceremony. They sang the Bhajans accompanied with different musical instruments like tabla (like a drum, but played with bare hands, such as the tambourine), harmonium (instrument like a piano) and bell from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. According to them, they are already booked to sing the Bhajans of Krishna throughout this month.
Now the time came to swing the cradle. A woman called two people to swing. She tied the green ribbon around the neck of two women like a garland to swing the cradle and they moved the cradle to and fro in their hands, pulling the green ribbon. Likewise, all other devotees did the same. I also swung the cradle with my friend and like others, I also received a green tika from the woman.
Lastly, in the evening, we ate prasad (food offered to god, such as a banana or apple) pudding, puri (made from wheat flour and round in shape), curry and pickle in the ceremony. In such a devotional ceremony for a god, meat is extremely prohibited. The devotees who were present at that ceremony would not eat meat after reaching their home too.
This ceremony not only helps to one to gain virtue, but also helps one to make a strong relationship with neighbors, relatives and other people.