Remembering Golu and Sundal
When boredom takes me to Facebook and a quick skim brings to the screen a series of Golu and Navarathri pictures, my own series of pictures floods my mind. It makes me reminiscent of all those long ago Navarathris at home. In that safe corner in my head, I have vivid memories kept of those days.
Navarathri was to me, mostly about the Golu.
I would await the week excitedly. I would begin my prep a couple of days ahead of the festival. My part was the ‘park’. I even then, loved feeling self-important. I would, in pride, go about my task. Mom would get me a handful of seeds from somewhere. I’d get dig out some mud and clay from the garden, fill an aluminium tray with it and sow the seeds. The tray was mostly kept upstairs in a corner of the Hammock room – my favorite one. I’d check for some green sprouting out, every hour. I’d water it every time it looked dry. Just the sight of tiny green grass like things would delight me. In two days, the tray would look like a farm; little green shoots causing it to look like a miniature of the neat square shaped farms you see outside trains’ windows. My little park would go at the bottom of the odd number of steps in the Golu. I’d put men and cars in and around it. I’d help mom unwrap the bommais (doll) in the huge trunk and decide which one be placed where. We had one set of idols of the Tridevi – Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth), Saraswathi (the Goddess of
Knowledge) and Parvathi (the Goddess of Power) that would always go in the centre. Other idols would be placed around and on the other steps. We even had a set with a group of Ganeshs playing Tennis (or cricket, I don’t remember). I’d come back once the Golu’s all done, like I was a supervisor, to take a second look and to make sure they were all placed equidistant from each other. When it did look perfect, I’d run around in glee. The elation I derived from this was one of having built something wonderful. It’s not just inexplicable, but to the now-me, quite incomprehensible.
I’d accompany mom to houses of friends and relatives as customary of Navarathri. I would even sing the one Carnatic song I knew well, when asked to (after making a fuss I admit). I’d sing it loudly and tunelessly. Yet proudly and shamelessly. I’d eat the Sundal (which is what I miss the most this year) and leave with a gift I’d always get. The ninth day, my favorite one – Saraswathi Pooja, I’d place one book for every subject in school, in the Pooja room. The next day, on Vijayadasami, I’d read a random sentence from each of them (to make sure I don’t give Saraswathi a reason to cause me to screw any subject up) and then run away to do something else.
It’s been at least 10 years since the last time I was excited about this festival. The excitement for Golu slowly evaporated, quite like that of Diwali’s crackers. This year, the bommais probably stay in the trunk. I don’t know, I haven’t asked mom or dad. I just woke up this morning more than 700kms away from home, hungry and wishing I had a cup of Sundal and I decided to write this.
This year, my 6th one away from home, I miss Navarathri and the Sundal, for the first time in all these years.