I have kept “Golu” at my place. It is the way south India celebrates Navaratri. The day before the festival starts, we scrub our silvers, bring down our dolls from the attic, dust them, paint the sad ones, put up steps using heavy wooden planks and steel rafter like things. We then adorn it with coloured papers, old silk sarees. We arrange our dolls..there are a few common dolls all houses have. Ganesh, lakshmi, saraswathi, Rama, sita, laksmana, Dasaavatharam, A shiv lingam, etc. An odd number of steps are required with 3 being the minimum. So I have three here with a random assortment of whtever I was able to salvage. It is looks simplistic and very rustic, but by doing it I receive a warm feeling in my middle. It gives me comfort by reminding me of home and keeps me connected to my roots.
“Golu” was a mega event in the house. A week before, my Grandmother would wake up from her slumber and quicly order eveything and everyone to remove the dolls, set up the collosal looking 13 steps and a smaller 3 step version to host her ganesh collection. She would then proceed to scrubbing, cleaning and polishing the silver. Then the dolls would come down in a cloud of dust and wrapping paper bits. We would ooh and ahh at the real old dolls that she kept safetly handed down through generations. Then we would scramble to see who could climb the rickety stool to place the first ganesh on top. The real highlight of the event would be setting up the something special at the bootom. It could be a mini version of a park. every house we went to usually had a cricket field with cricketers. To move away from the pack we would bring pot ful of mud into the house, set up a small city full with people cars, temple, etc.. Then dress up and sit pretty till the first guest start arriving. The best part of the function usually came in the evening when we went to other people’s houses to invite them and visit their settings. We would manage about 8-10 houses then rush back home with the loot. it was a cupful of ‘sundal’ usually made with the various pulses in the house. soak the chick peas or pulses, boil them, throw them together in a pan with mustard seeds, green chilli, salt, hing and cocnut and you have the most delicious snack. But then the fun was seeing whose was better. We would arrange the ten bowls in a row and take a bit from each. It was amazing to see how people oculd mess up things as simple as thta. Either the sundal wouldn’t be boiled or it owuld be too boiled, or spicy or without salt. The one with the best sundal would get a visit from another person in the house. We had no problem going and asking htme for more. And that’s how the nine days would pass..ending with saraswthi puja and ayutha puja. It used to be fun with half a dozen cousins and all aunts and uncles. But then this is not about sighing for those days. This is about remembering them and maybe making my own traditions and taking pleasure in the abundance of memories it gave me..memories to last nine life times