For many families, caution and online interaction mark this year’s Navarathri celebration

The mood on North Mada Street is reflective of the return of positive sentiment at festival time in the Mylapore zone. Business has been brisk and residents have been lining up the road side shops till late in the evening.

And for many families, this is a Navaratri that is so different from the greyness of 2020 w.hen the pandemic had swept the city

Sundararajan Street resident A Anjana Krithika, a class VIII student at P S Sr. Sec School, has been involved in the decoration of her kolu for many years now. While she skipped a grand celebration in 2020 following the lockdown and the negative mood at that time, she has been all excited with this year’s Navarathri celebrations. Her kolu with her favourite Durga right at the top is the showpiece.

“While it was low key last year with only a few relatives and friends visiting us, we are back to pre Covid type celebrations this Navarathri.  Most of my relatives and friends have visited us this year. Having been stuck inside homes for over a year, the overall sentiment is to go and visit relatives and friends. Also, most of the elder relatives have had both their doses and the fully vaccinated people are feeling comfortable and confident to reach out to people,” she said.

Interestingly, in addition to many of her classmates visiting her kolu for Navarathri, she has had surprise visitors the last week “My school teachers too have visited our kolu  and that has been a huge positive boost to us. The current feeling among my friends, relatives and teachers is that the second wave is behind us and the sentiment is definitely looking up. This is endorsed by the fact that everyone that I invited this year turned up for our kolu.”

The one dampener for Anjana has been the absence of senior citizens. Even though her grand uncles and aunts have been vaccinated, there has been hesitancy among senior citizens to visit others’ homes. “I have been missing them this year as well as they have not been able to make it. But we have used the social media platform to share photos of our kolu with them and they have taken delight from that.”

A Quieter Celebration

Kesava Perumal Sannidhi Street resident Pavithra Sundararaman has been interested in kolu decoration during Navarathri right from her childhood. She brought in a Nava Narasimha set of idols from Thiru Vahindrapuram (Cuddalore) this year as a new addition to her kolu. A couple of years ago, she had added idols depicting the life story of Vaishnavite Acharya Vedantha Desikar. One of her favourites is the ‘made to order’ very distinctive idols of all the Azhvaars.

A large number of friends and relatives from across the city used to be regulars at her kolu. While last year’s Navarathri was very low key with very few friends visiting her, this year has been better though the family has been playing it safe inviting only select people from the neighbourhood.

She says that especially elders with young children are apprehensive about visiting relatives and friends to take a look at the kolu decoration.

“Only about one third of our usual group of friends and relatives have visited us this year. To make up for the loss of physical presence, we have been sharing online our kolu decoration and exchanging thoughts and ideas. But there is nothing like taking a physical look of the decoration and discussing the significance of each of the seven steps and the thought behind the placement of each of dolls,” says Pavithra.

  • Report and photos by S. Prabhu

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