This time, celebrations are not just about festivities but also empathy and compassion, and locals want to encompass that sentiment by staying safe and keeping those dear to them safe as well. Many have taken to featuring smaller golus this year with their existing collection of dolls. Purchase of new dolls has decreased, and many are choosing to display a traditional golu structure, rather than a theme or elaborate set-up.
“I’ve kept the guest list to only family members who have been visiting over the last few months. I’ve not asked any friends because I know that once I start inviting them, I won’t be able to stop at just one or two. After all, this festival will happen annually, and next year we can have a big bash with everyone invited,” said Geetha Ravishankar. For thamboolams, locals are looking into preparing bags with beetel leaves, kumkum and tumeric beforehand before sending it to their loved ones’ homes. As sundal is a key part of any golu visit, some will also include a box of homemade sundal with the bag, which will be delivered to their friends’ houses.
For others this is an opportunity to give back to those affected during the pandemic. “Navarathiri is celebrated as the triumph of good over evil, and to celebrate knowledge and valour. Hence, instead of giving gifts to our friends, I will help schoolchildren through an educational trust by giving them supplies. This is the spirit of the festival that must be carried on during these austere times,” said Subha Srikanth. Not seeing friends might sting, but virtual tours of their friends’ golus with photographs and videos are already making the rounds on WhatsApp, and locals feel that at this time, this is the best course of action.