Sunday, October 09, 2005

Navarathri

It is also called Dussera. In School all it means is 3 days vacation somewhere during these 10 days. Ofcourse sometimes your quarterly exam schedule is aligned so that Dussera falls during vacation then its a waste of a vacation. You certainly don't have to study on Saraswathi pooja because your books have been sent to Godess Saraswathi for a senior level HOD verification. However, you certainly have to study on Vijayadasami because it sets the trend for the entire year. When my grandma says, "if you study on vijayadasami you will study throughout the year," I am almost tempted to say "but I dont wanna study throughout the year. Infact I'd be better off not studying at all". Confusing for a child isn't it. You just finished your quarterly exams and 2nd mid-term is looming large. Suddenly your mom tells you to handover your books and not study. The next day she turns around gives you the book (with kumkum, manjal stains on it) back and forces you to read something. "Just read something" she says and you are thinking "gimme Tintin and I'll read". Two extremes in 2 days beats the logic out of you. If you didn't know about Navarathri you'd think "parents have gone crazy".

But there is little chance you wont know about Navarathri. The day they set the golu you pretty much know its not normal anymore for the next 10 days. What is golu? In south India .. hmm... its difficult to explain now. Remember Kramer talking about levels in his house to Seinfeld. This is more like it. There is a big shelf made in every house (temporarily assembled ofcourse). The shelf has step-like levels (odd number of steps mind you!). So your mom keeps dolls in these steps. Apart from 10 avatharams of Vishnu and a few other God related dolls everything else is randomly picked without significance. Do any of you know why golu is kept? No. I dont know either. No! googling didn't help too.All I know is that - its fun. As a kid arranging the cricket player dolls in the plate full of mud was awesome. The hype created about it is too much to meet the expectations out of the festival. Because after you arrange those cricket players with careful field settings -- they just stay there. After a while you kinda look at those clay dolls and say... "ahmm they are not moving". However, the excitement in bringing those old smelly boxes full of dolls down from the "paranai" (attic) is unbeatable. My mom is a big fan of golu and so every year the arrangement in my house with be kinda dramatic.

Then the girls arrive. This is the best part. As a high school/college kid you are chasing girls. Now girls get invited to your house. Pretty stunning looking girls that too. You think "mom can do some amazing things". They come to your house and sing couple of songs too. But ofcourse as a guy you have to b e -- c o o l. You dont want to show those girls you changed into a neat shirt and were combing your hair for 30 minutes. You have to pretend that you don't care about the whole function, pass two sarcastic remarks and in general appear un interested. I cranked up the TV volume and overdid this "cool attitude" sometimes. Not good! Because that results in your mom yelling at you in front of the girl and totally embarass you. Girls man! they are simply wonderful species. The shy little beauties sing nicely. They don't talk much when they come in and mostly hide behind their sisters or mom. But once somebody asks them to sing they immediately sit down and dish out charanams and pallavis like it is nobody's business. You are stunned at decibel level these tender species can generate. Ofcourse you can't show out that you are quite taken-in by their voice, their demenaour, they way they lift their eyes when they sing and the way the hair loosely falls on their face when they transitioned thalams. Because you have to b e -- c o o l. Ofcourse there are times when the over eager girls burst into a song out of nowhere. You are almost not expecting it. You are in the middle of a conversation with someone and suddenly you hear sombody singing loud enough to drown the other voices. For a few second you are wondering if you should complete the sentence or should you stop abruptly? You sort of mess around spitting out a few nonsensic words and then go silent pretending as if you are listening. Except for the old man in the house who is catching unseen and unknown raagas flying in the air, nobody really knows what the chic is screaming about. And after the song gets over the visitors leave before you can remember and complete the unfinished sentence.

The whole I-visit-you-and-you-visit-me amazes me. Because everytime women visit other women's house (its a custom that all women you know come over and visit your house and vice versa) they are given sundal ( delicacy) and a gift. Of course! those gifts are re-gifted to other women. My question is (sorry! but I have hangover from my statistics class) - given the high probability that the social circle of women is highly networked with very little standard deviation -- how come they aren't gifted with something that they had gifted to someone else two days ago. That the gifts did not choose to loop and come back to the same person bugged my engineering senses ( Then again I wasn't bugged so much because I had very little engineering sense). Everytime my mom came back, I'd look at the gifts to see if something we gave out 2 days before came back. Sundals are a cool thing ofcourse. You never knew so many varieties of sundal existed. Now navarathri is like a distant memory in a place where no festivals of this ilk exist. I was pleasantly surprised when my wife kept a 3 step golu arrangement and invited a couple of confused n.indians to give out sundal. Started narrating the spilled-coffee-on-pant-when-chics-visited kind of embarassing navarathri stories to my wife and that ultimately led to this blog.

9 comments:

Hema said...

Hey,

Happy Navarathiri!!! Good post. Do visit us sometime in these 9 days with your wife. I have kept 9 steps (similar to ur mom's) at my sweet little flat in London very similar to how it is done in chennai (ofcourse just the small exception with our Policekaara bombai replaced with miniature of Buckinham palace and such things).
It still surprises me of the love that me and my partner had (still have) for this function that we keep buying every small doll that we see since the day we landed here (4 years back), Our displaycase and navarathiri as a result has become a delight to everyone who comes home. Recently had a few of my colleagues (some whites and eastern european friends) and a few indian friends home last friday for sundal. I was totally taken by surprise when i fnished singing, there was this friend of mine named Simon who sang his christmas carols in return!!! It was kind of very cute.

Anyways, nice to see a post from you especially on a occasion that i love so much.

Happy saraswathi pooja and Vijayadasami. (Do try and come home if you happen to be on a holiday in London :) )

Anonymous said...

i am sitting alone here in budapest , not knowing what to do after a perfect day.. just 4 more days to go back...

... gonna start writing all i can about Today with "Living Life in a Day " and reading your blog now has been perfect.

incidentally ... having two extremes on two consecutive days beat the logic out of it has come true in my case atleast , yesterday and today .... gr8 ra.. ur blogs always amaze me..

~sriki123

Anonymous said...

Happy dussehra and Happy Navrathri and Happy Vijayadasami.... :-) :-)
:-)

Ram said...

Oh! In my case, I used to play a 'leader' and not 'manager' by 'looking out' and going places under the pretext of escorting my mom or sister to others' places. That way, you increase your chances of seeing more girls than the ones that come to your place ;-))

J'Adore said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BARATH said...

I heard that the dolls in the golu in some way draw parallel to the evolution or the path one eventually follows.

I have seen acquatic creatures in the bottom most shelf, followed by few animals higher up, then humans up the hierarchy and the top shelf should contain the dolls of Gods which signify that it will be our final destination.

Funny isn't it? Moms invite stunning girls and prepare the Kadalais too :P

...as long as we don't get back the same sundal we distributed two days ago.

-Barath

Anonymous said...

Barath,

Cricket was always in the bottom most shelf in our house:)
Indian cricket has a long way to go:)

-Prabhu

Harish said...

oru packet sundal.. parcel!

Happy Navarathiri :)

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