Saturday, November 20, 2004


Drove on to Gobindaji. Forgot to write a note to the Executive Board as Chongtham Manihar had said. No problem. I think they were just giving each other work to do.

The kids were all in Krishna gear. Gold silk, peacock feathers. My aunt Inebema Mangi played Krishna’s mother. She was in Indian garb, a delicate gold wrap over a patterned blue dress. The kind of startling color and design combination that only India can pull off. I think she has remained beautiful at every age. Like Lillian Gish. It’s her last turn in this role, she says, making it sound like a rather practiced line.

The story went like this. Krishna in gold costume, his brother Balaram (in emerald) go with their pals (all dressed like Krishna to make a neat theological point) to tend their family cows. There was unregulated child labor back then it seems. Anyway, their wicked uncle Kangsa, the neighboring King, sends his demons to kill the children. After all, it had been prophesied to the mustachioed blackguard that Krishna would grow up to kill him.

Were there like 80-100 of the children? Some barely danced as they looked but 3. But in the older ones, oh up to like 11 or so, one could see the hand of the great masters. Their movements took the dance of the elders and modified it to suit children’s coordination skills and natures. They made it fun for the kids. The dance included cartwheels and eating and puppets and monsters and lots of chasing around. Why else would they put up with all this dress-up nonsense and Dad trying out his new digital camera?

Up to this, all the action took place in the temple mantop. That included my aunt breaking character to lean back to tell me she can’t do Cousin Sanatomba’s memorial lunch on Tuesday. There was some lunar enumeration that made it inauspicious. Would Wednesday work? Well, I guess I’d have to check with the University and unravel all that too, wouldn’t I? Thanks a lot Inebema. Of course I didn’t say any of that, just mumbled a kind of a Yes-Ma’am.

And oh yes, Teja let on that he was a pitcher! He points out a pretty young girl with long black hair. “She plays baseball too,” he said. Mike and I called her over. Her name is Rinasori. I leave Mike with her and go about my busybody business. Mike called me over and said she might have a good story in Rinasori for our film. Whoo-whoo!

Temple Board Office

Manipuri Kedgeree
Meitei Khechri

Lentils seasoned with Vegetable Ash
Mangal Uti

Cauliflower and Potatoes
Kobi Thamchetmanbi


Anyway, back to the story and the fun. Then, taking a leaf from the Lai Haraoba festival as Ima pointed out, everybody went out into the open. Krishna and Balaram scrambled onto a little temple doggycart. The idols of Krishna and Balaram had been moved out of their usual inner sanctum to the left, out onto the temple porch for the occasion. It was their day after all. The idols looked down, looking a little frazzled I thought, on all the other children and the noisy throng of parents and devotees as they went around the Temple and out the back onto the temple green.

Temple marshals in white turbans and dressed in flowing white pheijom lined up the squirming golden mass of kids to form a semblance of a circle. Then the first of the hapless demons, Mahisasur the Buffalo arrived. Balaram – the older boy in emerald – dance-hopped around him and struck the papier-mâché animal head with his little silver plough. All the children then rained blows on the Buffalo as he roared his way back to the temple, scaring some of the smaller kids in his path into the arms of their parents.

No comments:

Post a Comment