Decembers in Chennai are synonymous with music festivals and Kutcheris, and spirituality at its peak with the onset of the auspicious month of Margazhi; As a teenager I had a love-hate relationship with this month as it meant that my mom would wake me up at the crack of dawn, while it was still dark and make me help her with the elaborate kolam in the front yard.
I say love-hate because though I hated getting up at that unearthly hour in the cold winter mornings (oh please don’t roll your eyes…I know 23 degree Celsius is not cold by any measure but that’s the coldest it gets down south); so there, I am justified in saying cold winter mornings….Anyway, as I was saying though I hated it, somewhere between getting up grumbling and dipping my hand into the bowl of white glistening powder – kola maavu, there was a satisfied and proud me, looking at my accomplishment of tackling the intricately woven web of mysterious proportions simply called pulli kolam (designs using dots)
(Photo credit: Internet)
While it was still dark, once outside you could see your neighbours hard at work with single minded concentration on the task at hand and going at it like crazy. With devotional songs blaring from households, it’s a whole different world out there at that hour, which the unfortunates sleeping soundly and warmly inside their homes would never know.
My maamis (aunts) had lots of interesting tales about this Margazhi kolam craze, which they shared quite animatedly. One of my maami and her sibling clan had this on-going battle with their neighbours on who could make the most complicated kolams, that would reach epic proportions. Grand plots were devised to out-smart each other in coming up with elaborate designs and ensuring no one could guess how to start or end the damn kolam.
While reminiscing about this lovely month, I can’t help but be reminded of the dreadful floods a couple of year’s back followed by numerous cyclones last year, out of which Vardah cyclone being the most threatening of all, wreaked havoc in the peaceful city of Chennai. The month of December is slowly starting to look ominous to many which is quite opposite to the festive, colourful and jubilant look it bore earlier.
But Chennai is known for its resilience and as proven earlier it always rised above all odds and restored everything it is known for, bringing back all the fond memories and festivities with it…