As enthusiastic participants hurled questions at the experts at the CleanChennai@Home workshop in Nungambakkam on Sunday, a septuagenarian sat on the sidelines, waiting her turn. Clad in an orange sari, she shyly took the microphone and began to speak.
“Every Navaratri, my kolu is based on an issue that plagues Chennai. This year, The Hindu ’s Clean Chennai campaign is the theme,” she said, as the audience broke into applause.
Banumathi S. is a former education consultant who is passionate about kolu . The 72-year-old mother of three begins preparing for the following year’s kolu as soon as Navaratri ends. To this end, she has been collecting clippings of every story on garbage carried in The Hindu for almost a year now.
“I had already planned to make a waste management-themed kolu . When the My Chennai My Right campaign was launched, it gave me more ideas to add – I’m making a miniature composter as well,” Mrs. Banumathi said, speaking to The Hindu after the workshop.
She also said that the campaign had prompted her to begin composting again. “When we were in an independent house, we had a compost pit in the garden. After moving to an apartment, I did not continue the practice. Now I have started using a composter. Since it is just my son and me in the house, we keep our inorganic waste generation to a minimum,” she said.
A resident of Kodambakkam, Mrs. Banumathi said that many who come to see the kolu in her house ask her about the issue she portrays and how to tackle it. “It is my way of creating awareness in the community,” she said.
Mrs. Banumathi has been creating themed kolus for over a decade now: earlier themes include solar power and window gardens. However, she is quite proprietary about her kolu . “I’m already wondering if it was good idea to tell people that this is my theme.
I have decided what I am going to display, and several of the exhibits are ready, but I don’t want to share it all in case someone decides to copy it. I want mine to be unique,” she said.