Youngsters and those young at heart gear up for a day of cutting class, college, and in the case of the office-goers, it’s a nice midweek break, convertible into a long weekend to set aside that laptop and binge-watch some blockbusters on OTT. Yes, we are talking about Navarathiri, a festival that holds multiple connotations for the denizens of Chennai.
The mixed bag that we are, we like to celebrate the festival not just in the signature South Indian style with lip-smacking savouries and sweetmeats, but even indulge in some merrymaking the way our friends from Ahmedabad (dandiya, anyone?) and Kolkata are used to. Of course, the celebrations this year also are a little muted, owing to protocols pertaining to COVID-19. But that’s never been a dampener for Chennaiites who are known to take things in their stride.
Take for instance, the Durga Pujo festivities in the city, an event which our Bengali brethren have been waiting for more than a year. This time around, the celebrations will be livestreamed for the safety of the people, and the expenses being incurred on setting up the pandal have also reduced considerably, as many organisers have opted for mid-sized idols as opposed to the larger than life sized Durga idols that tend to dwarf all the devotees with their magnificence.
Visitors are not being allowed into some of the pandals this year, and the pushpanjali is also to be done from home. And how can one forget the famous Kapaleeshwar temple in Mylapore, a temple that is ground zero for Navarathiri festivities in Chennai? This year, a replica of Mount Kailash has been set up at the temple and a kolam made of sea shells has also attracted the attention of devotees.
On the home front of course, many homemakers, children and working mothers have come together and erected spectacular golus. And believe it or not, this year, the popular themes include Bharathiyar, IPL and gods and goddesses made of terracotta. Kuntak Chatterjee, a journalist, believes that we must bite the bullet just for this one more year, and then once everyone gets vaccinated, Pujo and Navarathiri can be celebrated in a big, big way.