Posts Tagged ‘Hinduism’

The Global Gopi
Author: Gnaana

A child dressed as Krishna rides on a motorcylce with her family in Ahmedabad.

It’s the birthday of Hinduism’s favourite child – Lord Krishna – and the celebrations have already begun.  Janmashtami falls on September 1 and September 2 this year (depending on your beliefs), and there are functions and events being staged wherever you are in the world (check with your local temple or ISKCON organization).

Lord Krishna is perhaps the supreme embodiment of joy and hope – and the legends and tales of his birth and childhood antics are a source of inspiration to children and adults alike.  We leave you today with a slideshow of heartwarming pictures published by The Hindu (one of India’s leading newspapers).  From Ahmedabad to Mathura to Katmandu, Nepal, these are real-time snaps that radiate the joy of Sri Krishna’s birthday. View them with your kids.

A Muslim woman carries her son, dressed as Lord Krishna, for a school function in Patna.

Children dressed as Krishna and gopikas vie  for a pot of butter as part of the
Janmashtami celebrations at a school in Visakhapatnam.

A visually challenged child tries to reach the “Dhahi Handi” (an earthen pot filled with curd)
during Janmashtami celebrations at a school for the blind in Mumbai.

Hindu devotees dance and celbrate at a Krishna temple in Katmandu, Nepal.

A child dressed as Krishna plays with a ball outside his house in Khammam, Andhra Pradesh.

Images by The Hindu.  For more pictures and the full slideshow, click here .


We’re seeing seashells everywhere lately, given that we spend most weekends at the California beaches.  The ritual for my son is that if we don’t find an A-grade seashell of acceptable quality by the shore, we must stop by one of those gift shacks and buy one.  But it can’t just be any seashell – it has to be a shankha (abbreviated from the formal Telugu word shankhamu).  A shankha (or shankh in Hind) is the word for “conch shell” – a ritual object that has special significance in Hinduism:  it is a sacred emblem of Lord Vishnu and when blown, is said to emanate the primordial sound “om.” Interestingly, the word is derived from 2 Sanskrit words – shum (auspicious or good) and kham (water).  How poetic.

My son has a very apparent special relationship with his shankha du jour – he eats with it, bathes with it and sleeps with it.  And according to him the Telugu letter sha “looks like a shankha.And so it does, my dear.  How I love seeing new things through your eyes.

Pictured at the top of the post is the Conch Shell House from Isla Mujeres, Mexico (available for private rental).

Below, Lord Vishnu with Shankha and the Hindi letter “sha.”  Image by Exotic India Art, available for purchase.

Edible sugar seashells by Olde Naples Chocolate:

Shankha colouring pages (click on image to print):

And if you’re curious as to how to blow on a shankha, here’s a video demo by a little boy:


I know I certainly do.  I could study it for an entire lifetime and still feel like there is more I want to know.  But most of the books out there (those published in the U.S. and in India) are so dense and unreadable – mired in tangential explanations and footnotes that just leave you scratching your head.   (I even have one book that has footnotes for the footnotes!)   Perhaps this is why many people glaze over definitions of purusha and prakriti, and then throw their hands up in the air in defeat.  They probably feel like they just don’t have the time to digest a seemingly “complicated” religion such as Hinduism after working a 60-hour week and taming their toddlers.

Well I have a book for you:  The Essentials of Hinduism: A Comprehensive Overview of the World’s Oldest Religion.  Think of it as Hinduism 101 written by an eloquent and authoritative Swamiji.  Swami Bhaskarananda breaks down the essentials with clear headings and no-fuss explanations`of karma, yogas, mantras and moksha.  It’s not the be-all-end-all resource on Hinduism – I don’t think such a book is possible – but it’s a darn good start.  In any case, it’s several steps up from “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hinduism” which, I ashamedly admit I have read, though would certainly NOT recommend.

And I love his explanation of the Paramahamsa that’s depicted on the cover:

“The picture on the front cover depicts the Paramahamsa – a mythological swan with the ability to drink the essential part of milk rejecting its watery part… [I]t is seen that a Paramahamsa remains in water and yet the water never clings to its feathers.  Similarly, a spiritually illumined soul lives in the world, yet is never contaminated by it.”

Befitting, no?