Shopping at festival time

By Geetha Iyengar >>>>>>>>>>>>

Believe it or not, there was a time in Mylapore when shopping for the festive season was a happy, un-hassled experience. Rewind to the 50s and 60s and the Mylapore shopping world was different at a time like the season of Navarathri and Deepavali.
A few Mylaporeans who have been in Mylapore for four decades take us back to that Kamala from Abhiramapuram says that there was one big brand that dominated Mylapore – Sampoorna Satry.

This sari shop on the mada veedhi was a universal choice and the saris were of extremely good quality, sturdy silk and you could get a “grand” sari for as little as Rs.18!

“Can you get a kilo of rice for that now?” she chuckles.

‘Rukmini Silk Emporium was the seed of the present day RASI near Sri Kapali Temple and it was housed in a small house near multi-pillared mantap.

Says Kamala, “If we still needed a wider choice we would phone the shop and they would carry a bundle of saris and display them without any impatience so that we could choose! A small shop in T Nagar (I forgot the name) used to be another haunt of ours and they also carried a bundle of saris on their head to our home on a request by phone.”

For Sundari Mani, who is president of Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy’s WIA, Sampoorn Sastri was also her family’s choice. “Their saris were of good, thick quality and, even after many washes they still looked good. I never went to T. Nagar. I got all I needed in Mylapore. Besides, moving around by any sort of transport, car, bus or rickshaw was so easy there were no crowds, traffic jams or irate drivers. There was a true festive spirit!!

Sundari says her mother-in-law used to wear a 10-yard sari and shop assistants would take personal interest in the choice and suggest those with good width.

For the Nagarajans of Pichu Pillai Street, Mylapore, all their clothes used to come from their village and it was sheer excitement to see what had been sent to them! “We would get saris and dhotis. So for ready-mades, shirts and trousers we used to go to T. Nagar.”

For Mano Bhaktavatsalam of Alwarpet, memories of shopping also go back to time spent at Sampoorna Sastri store. “Traditional saris was the hall mark of this shop,”she says. “When RASI came up all our purchases for weddings and festivals were from there. Shopping for weddings was a big time affair here. If you walked around the four mada veedhis of Mylapore you could get everything – clothes, jewellery, steel and brass vessels, grocery, flowers and fruits.”

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