We haven’t travelled out of Mumbai in a while. Haven’t been to Bangalore in over 16 months! (Though my husband Srivathsa did on a family emergency.) We catch up with mom and the rest of the family on the phone and on face time.
The shops in our township are all stocked up. Christmas trees, streamers, twinkling lights and stars. Toys stacked outside the shops and Santa hats hanging at the windows, tempting passers-by to step inside. We haven’t been moving out of home unless necessary, so it was nice to see things looking sort of normal again.
My mom, Rukmani Nair (now Manay), hasn’t a class photo of the passing out Class of 1962, but the memories are abundant.
Always creative, while in Std XI, mom maintained a notebook in which she wrote about each of her classmates. The “Character Sketch” notebook, it seems, was a distraction, as mom used to be engrossed in it while the teachers were teaching. Mom recalls that it was confiscated by Mother Immaculate Heart, a Coorgi nun, during class and she took it away with her to the staff room, returning it only at the end of the school day. Mom guesses that she read everything she had written about the 43 girls in the class, and wasn’t amused! She told her that she can do this sort of writing after she finished high school.
While mom is still in touch with some of her class/school mates, it’s her notebook that brings back many of the memories of school. This batch was the last one that did the Std XI Bangalore European Secondary School Certificate Examination in December 1962. From the following year it was changed to a Std X school-leaving certificate.
Navratri is a big festival in different parts of India, and what is amazing it that it is celebrated in each region in a different way. Goddess Durga (Devi) fought the demon Mahishasura for 9 nights (and 10 days) and finally defeated him on Vijaya Dashami, the last day of the festival. This year Navratri, was from October 17 to 25, but celebrations were subdued because of the corona pandemic.
In Mumbai, we usually get to see the different facets of Navratri all in our immediate vicinity. While the Bengalis have puja pandals, and the Gujaratis have the daily garba and dandiya, the Tamilians set up golus (dolls display) at home.
Purnima has lived in Mumbai for several years and Navratri is one of the busiest times of the year. Despite COVID and social distancing, the family had its usual Devi idols and golu this year too. Rather than a big step golu that is traditionally set-up, Purnima uses a window ledge and small step shelves in different parts of her home to display the idols. As part of the rituals, the clothes and accessories of Devi are changed everyday, to give a totally new look.
Usually, residents of the neighbourhood get invited to visit the golus and enjoy the food prepared for the gods and guests. This year we enjoyed the pictures.
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