Kolu in the time of pandemic

Women arranging kolu dolls at their residence in Srirangam.   | Photo Credit: M. Srinath

The year-end festive season got off to a start last week with Navaratri being observed from October 17 to 25. Some families in Tiruchi have arranged the traditional ‘kolu’ doll display for the auspicious nine days, despite the pandemic. But many others have decided to do away with the display this year.

“Kolu displays are the best ways to make children understand about our culture. The figurines help them to remember the legends and stories from our scriptures,” B. Vishnupriya, a homemaker from Srirangam, told The Hindu. “This year, we spent over a month preparing for the kolu display in our apartment with over 500 idols and dolls. I am expecting friends and neighbours to drop in through the week. Of course, we will be keeping the entire area sanitised and guests will be requested to wear masks and maintain a safe distance,” she added.

For homemaker Krithika Sundaraman, the five-step ‘kolu’ at her home in Srirangam will focus on religious idols and deities. “I have 30-35 big dolls in my collection; those are part of my display. A statuette of ‘Ardhanarishvara’ is a rare piece that I bought in Tiruchi,” said Ms. Sundaraman. “Though the lockdown reduced the number of stalls selling ‘kolu’ dolls, we were able to find good selections in the few shops that were open,” she added.

Poompuhar, the State-run handicrafts emporium, has been hosting a sales-cum-exhibition of ‘Kolu’ dolls at its West Boulevard showroom from September 7. “We started a little early so that shoppers could avoid crowding the store in the run-up to Navaratri,” said manager R. Gangadevi.

Sales of its terracotta, papier mache, marble, wood and leather dolls has been a little dull this year due to the lockdown at the showroom, she said. Approximately ₹8 lakh worth of dolls have been sold this year, compared to ₹20 lakh in 2019.

“Despite this, it is heartening to see people are keen on observing traditions with precautions during the lockdown,” Ms. Gangadevi said.

Many people have decided to forego the displays this year due to the pandemic alert, while keeping in touch through technology. “For the first time in 67 years, we will not be having ‘kolu’ at home, because of the safety regulations,” said Jambaga Ramakrishnan, former district chairman of the women’s voluntary organisation Inner Wheel.

While she rued the cancellation of kolu, Ms. Ramakrishnan said it was important to be socially responsible in a pandemic. “Our Inner Wheel members have decided to meet virtually on October 22, with a small video presentation of pictures from kolu displays and a song by children. This is the closest we can come to the spirit of Navaratri,” she said.

Online gatherings have helped people to commune over prayers and spiritual programmes, said dance exponent Vrindha Ramanan. “This year Navaratri will be confined to our homes, and we have cancelled the kolu display at our dance academy. But we have decided to meet virtually through the festive week. Everybody will render a dance recital from their homes,” said Ms. Ramanan.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 4:49:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/kolu-in-the-time-of-pandemic/article32892848.ece

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