Navaratri greetings to everyone!
This pic is from the beautiful Prabasee Association’s arrangement at the Canara Union near our place. They do this every year.
Mom used to love visiting the place. For one thing, it was quite close to our place – about two minutes walking distance. And second, I often suspected Mom used it as an excuse to indulge Vidur in whatever he wanted from the supermarket opposite the place, in case he didn’t fancy anything at the food court at the puja venue. At home it would be a lively nine days with different “sundals” and sweets every day, especially with Vidur at home. Of course, even though it was school holiday time, he would have loads of homework and in the midst of pampering him, Mom also made sure he followed a strict routine of working on his homework for a couple of hours in the morning before he did anything else. Nice tandem routine we had. Lots of fun, but got our work done. The evenings would involve visiting people or having them over.
When I was young, it was a completely different routine at my grandmother’s place. We were a joint family and with eight plus members in the family at any given point in time, each had their duties. While the elders went about their stuff, I would have two pages of handwriting in the four languages I knew – Tamil, English, Hindi and Marathi. Then I’d practice math problems. We had no TV or computers. Only the radio for entertainment or we could go to the cinema theater. We didn’t even have fans – used to be quite cool as I recall. I remember very much coveting the “white cupboard” one of our neighbors bought, which kept things cold. The refrigerator. So comic it seems now.
The building next door would reverberate with Navratri Dandia sounds, as it was full of gujaratis. So pleasant. While our building was alive with everyone inviting each other to their houses to se their doll displays. Visiting meant wearing our finest clothes. And when we visited, we’d be expected to sing songs and earn our sundals. We loved it, though. My aunt really loved to dress up. She looked like a doll, diamonds twinkling from her earrings and nose studs, jasmine flowers adorning her hair.
My Mom never enjoyed these things, preferring to stay behind the scenes and doing the hard work. Such was our culture. People preferred it that way, because they considered her the odd one out. Why? Because her husband abandoned her when she was pregnant and due in three months. Most people did not bother to give her the “tamboolam”. Even her own sisters did not honor her with this as they thought it was not auspicious to do so. Makes me mad to just think about it.
Tamboolam is the auspicious take away from Indian functions and festivals if you are a sumangali (married lady) or a kanya (unmarried girl). The tamboolam consists of a couple of betel leaves, betel nut, usually a sachet of kumkum and turmeric, a coconut and a fruit and of course, flowers and dakshina (cash). My Mom always made it a point to add a gift and sweets to this. She would.
Miss it all.