Navratri starts today.
This one used to be my much awaited festival during my childhood for two reasons. First, we get 10 days of school holidays. Second, the way we celebrate Dasara or Golu as we call in Tamil. Let me go back to flashback days and recall the Golu days.
The arrival of Golu proceeds with Quarterly exams. After a grueling, tiring, stressed out exam schedule which kid won’t look forward to 10 days of school free days!!! So do us – my elder bro and yours lovingly. So we eagerly wait for the holidays. The Golu preparation starts with putting up the stair structure. We used to have a giant Golu – 9 big steps in height and width. It easily rises to some 9 ft and 6 feet in width. My papa used to get a carpenter to fix the stairs in place. We used to have a collapsible stairs which will rise to its full glory every year in these 9 days. Once it’s fixed. We drape it in red satin clothe. Next comes, the interesting but huge task of taking out the dolls (of different Gods) from our huge trunk. We had a huge collection of dolls – a wonderful collection that spans many decades from my papa’s childhood. Different Gods in Different forms! Saraswati , Lakshmi , Durga , Ram , Sita , Laxman and Hanuman , Hanuman opening his heart and Ram and Sita image seen in it, Dus avatars of Vishnu , Krishna and Arjuna in chariot(Gita Upadesh) , Ganesh , Sri Rama Patabishek , Lord Murugan in six lotus flowers as six babies , Surya bhagwan , Brahma , Rishis like Sankaracharya , Agastya etc , kannapar , Nava graha , Asta lakshmis , Ardanairshwar etc …
We kids used to have our own area where we create a village rustic home, with dolls of people, cows etc… We used to spread sand and put seeds of grains and water it and it grows it everyday and by 9th day it gives a green spread!!!
Every day mom makes different kind of dishes for offerings. Evenings we have puja and then feast on it!!! 10 days, different dishes every day! We used to visit our relatives home to have a look at their Golu! People drop to our home. Kids from neighborhood come during puja times…
The 9th day is Ayudha Puja. A celebration that conveys the noble message – “Work is God”. People decorate and give aartis to their work instruments. Students keep their schoolbooks and notes before God. The celebration literally means to convey that Work is God and if we perform the right karmas of our life with devotion and dedication that is the best prayer one can do for his upliftment. The 10th day with the final puja we remove the dolls and idols from the stairs and wrap it back safe and keep it in the trunk only to be taken back next year.
Hmmmm … it used to be fun days. It was a fun filled religious festival. It’s living our tradition in a very enjoyable manner! Memories I love to revisit in coming years. Memories I love to relive in the coming years. The tradition has to be relived. In between many years, the tradition of Golu was discontinued in our family. I would and definitely relive it and restart the tradition. Like how I lived it and enjoyed it earlier, I would like to relive it again and when our kids are born, definitely they should not miss over it in the fast changing world.
Happy Navratri to all of you!
May the festive season brings in abundance of joy, wealth and health to you and your family and friends.