Navaratri is just around the corner and I am filled with nostalgia about my childhood when we would go from house to house for ‘Golu’ collecting ‘sundal’ from each house that we visited. I continued the tradition till my girls were available to go around and invite people for ‘haldi and kumkum’. I arranged the dolls carefully collected by my mother in law and celebrated Navaratri in the traditional tamilian style. We lived in an one bed room apartment and space was limited. But the festival was observed with great interest. Soon my daughters left home for college and though we had shifted to a three bedroom flat of our own the tamilian population had by then dispersed and somehow I did not retain the enthusiasm of continuing the tradition of ‘golu’ or ‘gudia pooja’ as the north Indians called it. I still invite a few friends over the ninth day when we celebrate Saraswati pooja but the spirit of Navaratri is missing. I sometimes wonder why?
I can think of some reasons that may have contributed to the situation-
1)When I started the ritual I had no other means of interacting with others of my age. We were about 10 tamilian families in our area and our children were young. Money was limited and we looked forward to the festive season to treat our children to an outing, to invite others over and to buy good clothes for the members of the family. There was no TV and eating out was almost unheard of. Now we have spending money and the joy of looking forward to new clothes during Navaratri and Deepavali is no longer there. Could this be a reason?
2)The weather during Navaratri is usually pleasant and many families prefer to travel to places of tourist interest during the season.
3)My research work went on for three seasons and the crop I took up as my research tool was seasonal. Its life cycle began in August and ended in November. My puja vacations were utilized for research work.
4)Our plans normally centre around the children. Now that they have flown the nest I have lost interest.
5)Tamilians who were my neighbors twenty years back have either left the town or moved to far off places. The few who remain are not too keen. Has this rubbed off into me also?
6)Social life in general has taken a beating.
7)Am I perhaps not too keen myself and prefer to utilize the vacation to organise my house and relax with a book?
Wharever be the reason I need to start again and these are things that I can do during Navaratri-
1)Invite a poor and needy person for lunch with her family and give her children a little money to spend on something they very much want to do.
2)Buy stationery items and distribute it among needy school going children.
3)Organise a bhajan during Navaratri and invite friends over.
4)Seek out others whose children have left home, form a group and go for a picnic instead of brooding over the time when ‘the kids were at home’.
5)Reach out to someone in distress and give him/her a little of my time.
That’s all I can think of. I wonder if there is anything else that I can do. Any suggestions? I do feel that with a little less money we have much more to look forward to and that perhaps makes life more interesting. I miss the joy of planning and making sure that each one’s need is attended to. I miss giving my father in law a little spending money. I miss the joy that I saw in his face when I ran out of cash and asked him for it. The way he’d look up and say “Always set aside some money for a rainy day”. I made him feel so very important when he’d turn round and ask “ If it were not for me what would you do?” More on that later. Right now I am in a pensive mood and ask myself if there is something missing and if there is truth in the saying ‘Poverty in the midst of plenty’