Janmashtami (Birth anniversary) of Lord Krishna

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Today is the birthday of Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, in the Hindu spiritual realm. I have reverence for all faiths and religions, and I am more spiritual than religious. However, my connection to Lord Krishna, who I consider my best friend, goes back to before I can even remember. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember making sketches and paintings of baal Krishna (baby Krishna). In the Indian Gujarati part of my culture, we greet each other with Jai Shri Krishna, to say hi and bye. There is no direct translation for hello. It is a Godly greeting to greet and part.

During the festival of Janmashtami, people celebrate by recreating Lord Krishna’s childhood events such as matki phod. It is when a clay matki/pot it hung on a rope between trees, poles, or buildings. It is filled with makhan, a thick type of yogurt, which was Lord Krishna’s favorite childhood snack. He used to break into people’s homes as a child to steal the makhan to feed to his friends and cousin, while licking the rest with his hands. He would get caught white handed, literally. A lot of Lord Krishna’s childhood stories teach of morals and righteousness vs societal evil (jealously, power, greed, etc.). A lot if it is symbolic.

The Bhagvad Gita, which is the holy book for Hindus, is written as a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjun, his mentee. The book is not meant to preach Hinduism. In fact, it is a spiritual book that can be applied to whichever faith or even people who choose not to believe in a higher power. Wherever I travel, I take a mini Bhagvad Gita with me. Spirituality is different from religion, but both can be deeply intertwined. I feel at home in Synagogues in Fort Kochi, cathedrals in London, Colombia, Santiago de Chile, temples in Banaras, Buddhist monasteries in Sarnath. I have yet to visit a Mosque or Sikh temple, but I have many Muslim and Sikh friends who I highly respect and wish on their holidays. I know Sikh prayer and Islam prayer. I used to recite everyday in the past. It helps me connect to people all over the world when I volunteer serving the communities. I never feel like a foreigner. I am always taken in as a family member wherever I go in the world with love and respect. My spirituality has a name, love for Lord Krishna, who is my best friend and travel buddy, but my spirituality teaches me tolerance and empathy for all.

This is one my favorite spiritual days because it makes me happy to celebrate the birthday of someone I adore. My name means Lord Vishnu, and my parents did not even know the meaning of my name when they named me Jinal. I learned later on with invention of yahoo search engine. My connection to this name and the avatar of Krishna can only be explained by the images that come to mind as I hold a paint brush or pencil.


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