Oct 7, 2005

Navarathri today

Amma...(I suddenly wonder if this post is going to be an ode to Amma rather than Golu and Navarathri) would start preparations atleast 2 days before Navarathri officially began. Preparations were - "I should ask Appa to bring the trunks down", "We need to make potlams (small paper packets) for sundal, kumkum and manjal (turmeric)".

She would ask Appa to help bring down all those old iron trunks from the "attani". Usha and me would be asked to help dust the 'bommais'. Peppered with "jakradha...odachuraadha" (carefule, dont break it), and "oh Amma i got the elephant", "oh look, it is chettiyar, where is the chettiyar mami?", we would sit into the wee hours of the night (which was 11PM!) trying to set up our Golu before the official beginning.

And those 10 days used to be filled with sounds of devotional songs from films from the loudspeaker in the colony. Sometimes i had quarterly exams after the Dussehra holidays and that was a nightmare ! I would try hard to concentrate on studying amidst the smells of sundal, payasam and the blaring of the loudspeaker, and the incessant chatter of maamis and their children, all attired in their best silks arriving to take "vettalai paaku". Oh it was fun!

Now, I am trying hard to keep up the tradition, in a different age, in a different land. I have to ensure that the carpet doesnt get stained with kumkum and manjal, so I start out with laying a huge plastic sheet to cover it. Then use old packing boxes as 'padi'(steps) and try to hide it with old saris. I try to set up my Golu amidst "No Vaibhav, dont touch that!! Vaibhav that is not a toy". I try to do a neivedyam early in the morning before work, and then light the lamp again in the evening. Invitations for Vettalai paaku are only by phone and that too on a convenience basis. "Oh its ok if you cant make it today...maybe you can drop in tomorrow. But please call me before you come". And there is no sundal. Just fruits and flowers.

But like Charu says, traditions are unlocked by nostalgia, and i am doing my bit for my hopefully nostalgic son!!


Blogger Charukesi said...

nice post, CC... I relive the memories every year around festival time - not just navarathri - but find it is too cumbersome to actually do anything myself. my mom also stpoped the golu tradition as she got older and when I mvoed out of home to study and then job, it stopped altogether - nowadays there is even no vethala-paakuritual at home in Madras :(


October 08, 2005 7:28 PM  

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