Reminiscing the Navarathri of the 70’s!

Today is the 1st day of Navarathri and one can see social media replete with pictures of colourful Golus and other sundry posts related to the festival. From what it was when we were kids, the festival has come a long, long way!

Growing up in Trichy, our school timed the 1st term examinations just before Navarathri. Always. So that we had our vacation exactly for 9 nine days to coincide with Navarathri. School promptly re-opened for the 2nd term on the 10th day i.e., Vijayadasami – a day when it is prescribed to mandatorily study after Saraswathi Pooja. So, as a kid I have fond memories of Navarathri which was exciting, busy and religious while also masquerading as holidays!

The excitement starts even as the last couple of papers of the term exams painfully drag themselves.  The Golu needs to be put up and more importantly a theme for the park adjoining the same had to be thought of. Back then, it was all DIY (Do It Yourself). And I now get it that the phrase “theme park” owes its origin to Navarathri! Shelves, Benches, Trunks, Suitcases, Father’s mayil kann veshtis and Mother’s marriage day but now out of fashion Kanjivaram silk sarees all come together to become the Golu steps. The Golu Idols which were wrapped up nicely with old, discarded Veshtis and stored in old trunk cases and cartons are all unpacked carefully and inspected first to check if the hands, limbs, noses, legs of the various God forms are in order. Once clear, they are cleaned amidst a session of pest control that happens with all of us dancing and prancing around. The house is freed of cockroaches, their babies and eggs. Temporarily.

Once cleaned, the easy part was to arrange the Golu idols on the steps. There is usually an order for at least the important idols like Dasavatharam, Ramar Pattabhishegam, Samudra Manthan, Chettiar bommais etc and they are quickly put in their places. The raking of the brain starts for the park set up. This needed creativity as well as access to resources within the house. Once an idea for the theme is cracked, we as an entire family got into the act to put together the same. If it was a Trade fair exhibition one year, it was a circus another year and Kallanai dam yet another year!  All made of things we had at home without embarking on a shopping spree for sourcing the same elsewhere! There was no competition, yet there was intense competitiveness in being one up on others as far as the theme park goes! The final act was to get the colour lighting and effects right, to complete that year’s Golu!

I said that as kids those nine days were extremely busy not without reason. Kids performed the role of today’s WhatsApp! In the absence of WhatsApp, Mobile phone, SMS and even Land line phones, the job of going to the houses of near and dear was entrusted upon us. If this kept us busy for the 1st couple of days, the later days were consumed by visiting other houses to check out the Golus and the sundal that ensued. Typically, there were certain houses where the sundal was always tasty where we didn’t mind visiting every day!! Also which house to visit that day depended mainly on the type of sundal. Usually a house which made Puttu or Vella Payaru on a particular day attracted a bigger crowd and one had to be there early before it gets over! And if it is stuff like paruppu masiyal and all, one avoids that house for the day! So, those days the mamis have to go all out to get people and kids to come to their place to exhaust the stock of sundal!  The other job for us was to cut newspapers and make packets of the sundal every day for distribution.

Coming to the religious aspect, during Navarathri, the nearby temple used to have different alangaram for the Devi idol as per the day. So, visiting the temple every evening to check out the same was also part of the routine. Some more pious amongst us also used to attend the Lalitha Sahasranamam rendition at the temple every day!

I don’t at all recall if the nine days of Navarathri were observed with different colour dresses by ladies those days as it is today! Probably this is an influence from the North of the Vindhyas which has spread over South also these days, I reckon!

After the nine days are over, the busy schedule continues for a day when we had to re-pack the idols and put them in the trunk cases in the lofts.  For Hindus in South India, “Boxing day” was actually the day after Navarathri!  The steps are dismantled and they get back to their original avtars as benches, shelves, suit cases and the like!

So, in short, the nine days of school vacation just flies in a routine filled with fun, festivities, religion and camaraderie!

On the Vijayadasami day, when the school re-opens, time for all the fun and excitement to be boxed up.  And as one by one answer paper started unravelling, one hoped that the Devi will incarnate once again to put an end to the ultimate evil called Examinations!

As I walk down memory lane to reminisce the Navarathri of the 70’s, I realise that 4 decades hence, this remains still an unfinished agenda!

Postscript – For a more light-hearted take on Navarathri of these days, please do read my post – “Engaathu Golu” here! On that note, Happy Navarathri!

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0 thoughts on “Reminiscing the Navarathri of the 70’s!”

  1. Anand , you have really brought back memories of mid 70s to mid 80s. Captured the sequence activities meticulously. My all time favourite sundal was nilakadalai & ellupodi.

  2. Here is a WA forward doing the rounds. Guess they have copied your thoughta😂

    *Schedule of அப்பாவி கணவன்மார்ஸ் on நவராத்ரி days….*

    1.பரண் மற்றும் டரங்க் பெட்டியிலிருந்து பொம்மைகளை எடுத்து தருதல்….

    2. படிக்கட்டு வைத்தல் மற்றும் கையகல ஜரிகை வேஷ்டியை விரித்து தருதல்.

    3. உம்மாச்சி & பொம்மைகளை அடுக்கி தருதல் அல்லது ஐடியா கொடுத்தல். ( பெரும்பாலும் கொடுத்த ஐடியாக்கு opposite ஆகவே நடைமுறை படுத்தப்படும்)

    4. கல்யாண பைகளில் வெற்றிலை பாக்கு போடுவதைப் போல, உள்துறை அமைச்சர் வாங்கி வைத்துள்ள டப்பா, டுப்பா, பாத்ரம், கீத்ரம் ஆகியவற்றில் அவற்றை வைத்து readyயாக வைத்தல்.

    5. நம்ம வீட்ல அடுத்த வீட்டு கொலுவுக்கு போய்ருக்கும்போது, நம்ம வீட்டுக்கு வத்தவர்களை ( பெரும்பாலும் அது யார் என தெரியாது or மறந்திருப்போம் ) உக்காரச்சொல்லி… அவர்களை அமர வைத்து, அவர்களுக்கு தெரியாமல்,
    ” vasugi street gundumami came, come quick” என பாரியாளுக்கு ஒரு msgஐ தட்டுதல்….

    6. அண்டை அயல் வீடுகளிலிருந்து வந்த வெவ்வேறுவிதமான சுண்டல்களை பெரும்பாடுபட்டாவது காலி செய்தல்…

    7. “எண்ணண்ணா தெரியாத மாதிரி பாக்றேள் ( முழிக்கிறேள் என்பதன் decent version )… யாருண்ணு தெரியலையா? நம்ம கோபுவோட மச்சினி நாத்தனார்… ( நமக்கு கோபுவே யார்னு தெரியாது ) என்றதும் அந்த மாமியின் சிரித்த முகத்தை பார்த்தபடி
    ” ஓ….” என எல்லாம் தெரிந்த ஏகாம்பரம் மாதிரி தலையை ஆட்டி வைத்தல்….

    8.நடு நடுவே ஒலிக்கும், ” பஞ்சாட்ஷ பீட்ட ரூபினி, ஜனனி ஜனனி, தாயே ஈஸ்வரி” போன்ற தேவகானங்களை கேட்டல்…

    9. நவராத்ரி முடிந்ததும், பொம்மைகளை பேப்பரில் சுற்றி பெட்டி & பரணில் வைத்தல்.

    May be a repeat message..but worth to read again

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