Wednesday, September 28, 2022

#700 : Day 7 - Blast from the past - Navarathri

 It's that time of the year again when some women from my city deck up with the finest of the silks and the shiniest of the jewels as they go "golu-hopping". The last couple of years have been difficult for everyone with many people losing their loved ones to the horrid imported disease. This year, as the infection is slowly being degraded to the status of common cold, people seem to have resumed doing all things they once did with vengeance -  Like travelling, eating out and of course, now the Golu-Shopping. 

Sunday evenings are the only quite times in my locality. The main road that my street feeds out is lined with shops. One can find just about any thing they need there - Except for of course, "people for rent/sale". Most of the shops are closed on Sunday evenings as shopkeepers normally spend time with their families. The road is quite narrow with 2-wheelers being parked on either sides making it a pain for pedestrians. There is almost always a traffic snarl, especially in the evening hours as this narrow road is arterial in connecting people to one of the major shopping hubs of my city - T-Nagar. Sundays are an exception - No traffic snarls - It is sometimes outright eerie to see a place so deserted after 6 days of unbelievable human presence. 

Last Sunday, was a major exception. I truly couldn't believe the number of people out on the road. It was Afterall, the day before the Navrathri officially began. Hawkers lined the road, selling all sorts of Golu stuff - porcelain idols of deities,  wooden toys, that "famous" plastic made "park-set" and what not. Then there were the others, competing with the doll sellers, selling return gift items - bags, shiny trinkets, fancy looking bowls and many other such items. 

My mum dragged me to shop for random stuff. As I parked my bike and found myself a comfortable spot to sit,  I noticed young girls decked up fancy silk paavadais (skirts) running around. This took me on a trip down the memory lane to much simpler times. 

As young kids, my sister and I were dolled up by my mum who dragged us with her to go visit all neighbors' and relatives'. We didn't follow the tradition of setting up a doll display (Golu), so we didn't need to stay at home all the time, waiting for people to visit. I loved getting dressed up back then (It's a different story today). I used to shop for earrings and chains from the hawkers who sold them for throwaway rates. As much as I detested the Sundal (Cooked Lentils) that was given, I loved the gifts that we received - Young girls were treated like god during Navarathri. We practiced signing devotional songs as most of the maamis (aunties)would demand that we sing - They wouldn't bring out that Thaambolam (The gift)without at least a line of song was sung. 

As we grew up, work schedules prevented any such frolicking. Decking up in finery had fast become a cumbersome activity - Tying a silk saree, finding the matching ornament and figuring out a handbag to complete the ensemble is no joke. The golu invitations also dwindled as many of the regular inviters moved to different parts of the world. Navarathri ended up becoming yet another reminder of nostalgic times! 

Would the generation that would come after us, experience this tiny part of Indian culture? The Devi (Collective name for deity being celebrated these 9 days) would only be able to answer this! 



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