24 June 2007

Janmashthmai in Rotterdam ?

Saw a strange sight today (Actually I’m seeing this for the second time since I’ve come to Rotterdam) … the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday- Janmashthmai - by a small Surinamese community. This community has Indian origins (some of them trace back there last generation to live in India up to 6 or 7 generations) .. However, over all these years and literally half way around the world in South America this small community has managed to hold on to some rituals and habits that still connect them strongly to there motherland. Almost all of the older people and a few young people still speak a sort of Bojpuri language… like all true Indians ..they love Indian Food.. Indian Gods .. Indian Festivals (hence this celebration) and not to forget they also love – Bollywood!!

Now the story goes something like this .. these Indians were taken there are slaves by the Dutch .. And after they gained there independence from the Dutch .. the Dutch government offered them a chance to come and live there lives here .. (mostly in the bad parts of their cities – for example here in Rotterdam in the South) .. And long story short – here they are in Blaak plaza celebrating an Indian festival – which most of their kids have no idea what it is ?? or what for?? But the free Indian food and sweet they give to everyone who comes makes it all forgivable..

So how does a Indian community from South America .. now living in Holland celebrate one of their most important festivals – besides the free food, a small ‘Indian’ bazaar, the odd golawala, the good attempt to have a nicely decorated rath for Krishna , they ask none other than Anuradha Paudwal to sing bajans for them …
Yes that's her singing in the middle...

And if that wasn’t enough they even have lord Ganesha himself – in flesh and bone standing with the most bizarre of backdrops (the ridiculous cube houses of Rotterdam)

Though I’m not at all a fan of elephants on streets, I have to say they blend in better back home in India.

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