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Mami...sundal!!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by sadhanagopal, Oct 19, 2007.

  1. sadhanagopal

    sadhanagopal Senior IL'ite

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    Yay, the weekend is finally here!! And I am off to my mother's house for Saraswathi pooja. I will be seeing my son after 3 weeks...can't wait!!

    Navarathri is a very important occasion celebrated with a lot of gusto across the country. A lot of people talk about how it is a celebration of the sacred feminine and 'Shakthi', the female side of all things. But for me, navarathri is associated with golu. For the uninitiated, golu is a practice where they arrange dolls in steps in as artistic a manner as possible. Not all families do it. I dont. But my mother started this a long, long time ago and still continues to this day. The story is that when I was 3 years old, I went to someone's house to see their golu and came home and cried that I wanted one too. And she started it. And kept on doing it year after year. Amma started off small, with just 3 steps and kept on accumulating dolls with each passing year and the golu tradition grew and flourished along with me.

    I remember, we made a park once, with a lot of grass and sand and little dolls of people and animals. I know that everyone who has ever had the tradition of Golu must have made a park at least once. But my mother did it long before it was in vogue and huge crowds from the neighborhood turned out to see it. I could'nt stop smiling, I was so proud of it!! I still have a photo of me standing on a chair alongside the Golu, clutching my bunny rabbit doll.

    Sundal is a very important part of golu. Navaratri, more than anything, is a social occasion. You go to people's places and invite them to come over to your place. And when people come, you give them the usual kumkum and vethalai, pakku and stuff and sundal, which is a navarthri special. When I started learning carnatic music, it became a PAIN to go to these golu affairs. I was going through this shy, anti-social phase and wherever I went, people would tell me, oru pattu padina dhan sundal.(You get sundal only if you sing a song.) Well, some of those mamis' sundal was so bad that I'd shut up and not open my mouth at all. The other mamis made sundal that was to die for. Amma and I would go house to house and collect our booty and bring them all back home where appa would be waiting with all his tastebuds in readiness. And then the analysis would begin...some looked so bad we would'nt even open the covers. And there were others we would fight tooth and nail over.

    As I grew up and moved out for college and later to Bangalore after marriage, amma could'nt maintain the scale of the festivity all by herself. Down came the number of steps again, till they became nothing more than just symbolic golus with just one step and a few old dolls. This year, I did not eat any sundal at all. Usually, I make it a point to at least invite a couple of people over but work was so crazy that I could'nt even do that this time. But I did one bright thing. I sent my son over to my mom's place. I could see a spring in my mother's step again this time. She tells me she has a very pretty golu this year again, after all those years. And she tells me my son has had his heart's fill of sundal. As for me, I am going to get my first sundal of this year tomorrow from the mami who makes it best in the whole world - my mother.
     
  2. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Very nice piece,Sadhana. You have really written with your heart, I always feel the same way when Indhusri writes in IL. Your piece has captured the nostalgia of childhood golu, amma made sundal- such great days. And good to know that your mom has a spring in her step when her grandson is with her. Enjoy amma's sundal, enjoy meeting your son after three weeks, enjoy Navratri!

    regards
    Vidya
     
  3. Vysan

    Vysan Gold IL'ite

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    Hi,

    That brings back memories of my childhood days... We never had Golu in our house... But we do the pooja and sundal and all... Being the kid had the previelage of going to everybodys house... and asking "Mami, mami, golu sundal" rythemically.... That is great.... Since I used to attend bajans, I was forced to sing bajan songs... Once I remember, one mami cooly returning back..." Illada poda eli sundal"... Ofcourse it is non other than my sister, when I went to her house...

    Great... I miss Sundal here....
     
  4. Tamildownunder

    Tamildownunder Bronze IL'ite

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    Hi,
    Your write-up has brought nostalgic memories of navarathri. When I was in school, we stayed in an Agraharam in Madurai. Navarathri used to be a grand celebration. We used to have golu with nine steps in the middle hall of the house. All nine days lot of ladies and girls from our neighbourhood used to visit our house, sing carnatic keerthanais. As I am fond of music, they used to be a feast to my ears albeit to hear from the entrance. There used to be so much crowd that we used to put rope lines to regulate and I used to stand at the entrance like security to ward off the street urchins to barge in again and again to collect sundal. Ofcourse, sundal used to be the big attraction for me. Like other ladies, my mother and sisters used to visit other houses and at the end of the day we used to have a variety of sundals to taste. Mostly, konda kadalai sundal, pattani sundal, kadalai paruppu sundal used to be there with some having mre cocanut, some less. Oh, for those days!

    Regards,

    TDU
     
  5. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you Sadhana Gopal. Excellent write up and ofcourse brought back memories. Hey there is competition for best chundal maker my mother and I (just kidding(
     
  6. Shobanag

    Shobanag Bronze IL'ite

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    That was neat Sadhana - although we never kept golu in my house growing up - it was around me - the sundal was the best part - some would make the sweet sundal with karamani - did not like those - no one fought over that!! We are all partial to our amma's - the best sundal makers!
     
  7. Varloo

    Varloo Gold IL'ite

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    Yes, is brought back old memories. I was the one appointed not only by my mother but other mamis who did not have daughters, to go and invite. I used to enjoy that. there were younger sisters but they never went. I used to draw big kolams both in the morning and evening also.
    My mother has lots of kolu dolls, many bought by my granny and are very rare ones too. We have tiny tea sets which are replica of the real ones with saucers and tea pots also, they are very tiny they could hold only a drop of liquid in them.
    We used to have 9 steps and park etc. also. There is a large doll house with openable door, steps to terrace etc. We have small tables and chairs and we enjoy arranging them inside with small dolls also.
    The main attraction in our kolu are figurines of females in various forms of undress. Young boys and my brother's friends used to come stealthly to have a look at them.
    Oh, how wonderful those days were!
    And the set of household vessels and other articles were many like ones made in copper, makkal, wood, and silver too ( now the silver ones are not there).
    I could go on and on about the kolu, let me stop here lest I bore you.
     
  8. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sadhanagopal,

    Your write up was so poignant that I could taste sundal in my mouth!
    It is only recently did I realize that golu for Navarathri is so prevalent in Tamilnadu. In my ignorance, I thought it was a mainly Karnataka special...what with the Mysore and the Dussehra procession there etc.
    And for your info...not that I am undermining your mother's innovative abilities....even I used to enjoy being invited to neighbours for Kolu and the special fascination for me as a child was those mini-parks which was a must in many people's houses ! We used to admire those!!
    So, I guess those parks and things are older than you think...that is...if you consider my age !:smile:

    L, Kamla
     
  9. sujathae

    sujathae Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Sadana, Nice article asking mami for sundal. U kindled nostalgic memories in all of us. Nowadays navarathri is like a tough competition. Each one wants to excel the other person in everything decorating, making prasadams, dressing up and visiting people. Sundal have become secondary as they give priorities to all the other sweets. Nice to see all ladies in their pattu saries, jewellery etc. and moving abt in streets.
     

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