Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Growing up I loved this season a lot. First it marked the end of quarterly exams and beginning of quarterly holidays. I hate going to school and the promise of a ten day long vacation just made me happy. Of course the last day of vacation always made me sad and me, along with all my friends would look for Varuna's interference in bringing the monsoon a little sooner to our parts of the world. Which of course meant more days off from school and more play time with friends who lived around our house.

Then it also meant the coming of Deepavali. All I can say is that I have a few really favorite festivals and Deepavali ranks very high on it. I mean who would not like to go and burst fire crackers, dress up, eat amazingly good food, and hang out in the house for at least three days depending on what day D actually fell on.

I have been getting super nostalgic offlate. I think it has to do with the fact that my daughter is almost two now and when I take her to places, I explain everything in context with what I knew as a kid. For example, yesterday we walked into the Temple. The first thing to the left I saw Golu. Golu is arranging dolls based on a myth or some really cute dolls in small steps. It is definitely very Tamizhian to do it but I am not sure if any other states also celebrate Navratri in this particular way. So, I showed it to Babs and I explained to her what it is all about and immediately I could only think of my days past when I was a little kid totting along my mom from one house to another.


Mom used to dress me up in nice pavadai sattai (silk skirt and blouse) every day in the evening and we would at least visit a minimum of two houses a day. And this was the norm for the nine days. Some one or the other would invite us and we would sometimes have to go to as many as five houses on a single day. Of course only women were invited and my brothers would wait for me eagerly to bring in the dhonnai (bowls made from lotus leaf) filled with goodies, of which channa dal was the most common item. Each person trying to outdo the rest will always put a spin to things they give to us.

My daughter Babs wearing a typical South Indian pavadai sattai

First it was me accompanying mom because my brothers wanted my dhonnai. Then it was me taking mom in my two wheeler because we were now in Chennai and we could not just walk to friends house. Bigger city meant more travel. I used to wear my pavadai dhavani now (half-saree).

And then I had to drive mom around in my car. I was big enough to get my License to drive. It was so much fun. I miss those days.

I also miss seeing cars decorated for Ayudha Pooja. What a site it would be. It was also the day when most of the road accidents would happen owing to the large number of pumpkins that were broken to ward off evil eye.

Check out the decoration on the lorry. Cars will be decked up sometimes with small banana plants on either side. I am not kidding, people go really crazy to ward off evil eye.

We also had to put our books and pens and other things that would help us in life down next to god and take a break from work until the next day. I always had my math text and my Hero pen kept before God hoping that I would clear math...well that was until I was in my 9th.

Typical Saraswati Pooja setup. This is how it would look at my home too.

There was always holiday homework that we would have to do and obviously I would not have done it. And it would be this one day when I would need to take it out and work on it but amma would say a big NO to studying of any form. I would then sit up late to finish it off before school started the next day and then the wait for Deepavali would resume.

Phew...Long post...but this was a part of my life in India. Chinna Chinna Aasai...


Pictures above are not from my camera and are copyrighted to the following websites:
The Lorry:
The Pooja:


P said...

cheers to those magical days! :)

Sum said...

Nice post, Anu... Brought back all my memories again(after writing my own Dasara post yest) :) Now i feel like writing another long post on all the nitty gritty memories i hae abt this festival...
Well, this custom of arranging dolls is present in Karnataka and some parts of Andhra too.

Anu Russell said...

I know!!! magic is what it cast on me...I can never get over it!

I know some telugu ppl also do it. But since I lived in T.nadu pretty much 90% of my friends did it...i loved it ya...all those creativity that comes out!

Ya you should do it!

Megha Bansal said...

my neighbors used to do the golu. i used to find it very interesting. and the food..o what can i say.

for me navratri always meant durga pooja...dressing up and going to see the pandals and the lovely lovely food. o those days :)

Anu Russell said...

I have been to a Durga pooja only once and I was too small to remember much! I want to go to one!!!!