It is four decades since I have started living in the Mylapore zone and what a wonderful journey this has been! Navaratri is a very special festival in our house and all of us chip in to make the festival memorable.
Preparation for Navaratri begins almost a month before the season. Cleaning, dusting changing curtains . . .are done meticulously. Next, is the most exciting agenda – shopping in the mada veedhi. A walk round the four mada veedhis makes you immensely happy .
I wouldn’t trade Mylapore mada veedhis to any place in the world. It is so so special to me and holds beautiful memories. Purchases begin from Srividya Kumkumam shop and we drop into many other shops to buy ‘return’ gifts. The range available will send your head reeling. You won’t feel like leaving out anything!
Kolu bommai shops on the pavement entice us. And every year there is something new. The Kapali Kovil ther ( chariot) set which I bought a few years back is still a big hit among our guests.
Coriander and mustard seeds are soaked so the saplings help to create a real park. Parks are made for the theme kolu. Park-creation was always the kids’ domain and they were proud to display their creativity.
Kolu padi is brought down from the loft and assembled and then dolls are arranged on it. My mother in law even, at the age of 92 used to enthusiastically help me dust the dolls before assembling them on the steps.
Once all that is done, I plan the neivedyam for all nine days and kolam designs for the kolu. Delicious pattani, kadalai paruppu, Kabuli Channa sundal are the regulars. Poli, carrot halwa, kesari and pal payasam along with sundal make a yummy combo.
Friday is moong dal sweet puttu at our house and my friends make it a point to visit on the Friday.
Though the festival is for nine days it is very hectic because you have to play the role of host and guest simultaneously.
Ayudha Pooja is a very busy day – for we have the pooja at home and later, one at my husband’s clinic. Plus, we got to make the delicacies like vadai sooyan sundal payasam.
On Vijayadashami day, the children go their music / dance classes to pay respects to their teachers. I make it a habit to go to the mada veedhi on that day to purchase bommais ! We can buy dolls at reasonable prices as the vendors from neighbouring districts are in a wind up mode!
During my stint at Mylapore Times newspaper, I was one of the judges for the newspaper’s Kolu Contest in 1995. It was a very interesting experience.
My mother-in-law used to chant slokas like Devi padam, Laltha thirisadhi and Lalitha Sahasranamam for nearly two hours on all the nine days. All these create positive and warm vibes. You feel as if a big wedding is on at our home . . .
- Contributed by Chitra Sivakumar