We are at that time of the year, which is very close to my heart – yes, the Dussherra !!!!
I know, yeah, I am writing about this very early….Dussherra is another 15 days away !!!!
Since I am from Chennai, I would love to relate it to the way we celebrate and that is the Navarathri or the Kolu, which starts this friday on the 18th of September.
It’s the most awesomest festival, which I love so much. The colours, the music, the beautiful kolams, the sara sara pattu pudavais, the fragrant malli poo, the wonderful smile on everybody’s lips is enough proof that heaven is here among us.
Navarathri, as the name suggests, is celebrated for 9 days, the first 3 days for Goddess Durga, the second 3 days for Goddess Lakshmi, and the last 3 days for Goddess Saraswathi. The Saraswathi Puja on the last day and the Vijayadasami on the next day marks the end of this wonderful festival.
The other name called Kolu comes from the fact that there is a display of beautiful dolls during these 9 days. On the Amavasya day, we set up the steps – always it is an odd number of steps – and start arranging the wonderful dolls. We also make parks/ zoo around the steps to display our toy animals !!! Beautiful colourful kolams (rangoli) adorn the houses. The colourful lights and lamps will add more sparkle to the whole festival.
All the ladies in their best sara sara pattu pudavais, the little girls in wonderful pattu pavadais, going around to visit friends, relatives and singing till the throats ache are just a few insights into this fantabulous festival. I still remember how I used to go from one house to another, for inviting them to visit our kolu. Without even being asked, I would start singing, eagerly waiting for that aunty to come and give me the sundal packet. Then I am off to another house and its the same story again. (Sundal is a wonderful dish – it’s sprouts done with tadka and garnished with grated coconut. Everyday it is a different sprout and so it is all the more fun).
Chennai is colorfully decorated and there are contests happening to rate the best Kolu, too !!! So, people are more keen on displaying their Kolu based on a theme, so that theirs is unique.
When I go blah blah about all this wonderful festivities of Chennai and how I miss them all, staying here in Hyderabad, my sweet husband decided to take us all to the wonderfully old city of Kolkatta, to show off his childhood places and how Durga Puja is celebrated there. So, last year, for the Dussherra vacation, we were in Kolkatta drinking in the delights of the pandals and the awesome foodies that go along with it.
Even though the Puja is only for 5 days, it is just a wonderful experience to see it all live in Kolkatta. The grandeur of every pandal will take your breath away. The unique designs and the money spent on every pandal is just overwhelming. But it is all worth it, finally. Even though the city was maddeningly crowded and didn’t show any levels of developments after the British left us – none of this mattered to us – we were hogging on luchis and aloo dums for breakfast, rasogullas, kachodis, singada, puchka – the list is just endless…such mouth watering delights.
One of my favourite moment was when we all walked up from our room to the nearest puchka-wala, at midnight, and had a dozen of them each. I can never forget that super bhog prasad which we had in one of the pandal. It was absolutely fabulous. Although, I’ve tried making it at home, I’ve not yet reached that taste level.
A few pandals for your visual treat – they are my favs too !!!! 😆