Pandemic themes take centre stage this Navaratri

Rajakilpakkam resident Vedic Ravi’s Navaratri invitation to friends is warm, but does not shy away from spelling out “the pandemic code”.

“We would love to have you over to see our kolu, take thamulam and prasadham, but as we are still amidst the pandemic, we have listed a few precautions for everyone's safety and wellness.”

Besides reminders on masking up and maintaining social distance, the invite urges those with any telltale symptoms to avoid going to gatherings and have themselves tested immediately. “As you enter our home, kindly wash your hands and legs or use sanitiser kept outside our home”

Invited families are required to inform the host about the date and time of their visit so that crowding can be avoided.

It does not seek to learn about the guest’s vaccination status but makes an important point – “If you are fully vaccinated it is good for yourself and society.”

The invite ends with: “We are proud to inform you that our family is fully vaccinated.”

While some families are baulking at inviting friends home to see the kolu arrangement, there are those who are making the nine-day festival a space to highlight importance of vaccination, among other things.

Rani Sairam has included vaccination theme in her arrangement. It shows a “Vaccinated Family” with a child attending online classes and father working, both masked and maintaining social distancing.

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“I was a teacher for many years, so I was particular that my display had a takeaway for children. I did not find kolu dolls with masks and so, I created them by improvising upon existing sets. As schools are opening up and children have to maintain social distance in class, I have created a separate section at my home that highlights it,” says Rani, a resident of Vadapalani.

As she lives in a 50-unit apartment complex, Rani has five different families come over every day to see her kolu alangarams. This year, her thamboolam pack comes with yet another addition. Apart from hand sanitiser, mask, gloves, there’s a short write-up tagged to the set that talks about vaccination. “I have not made it wordy or tried to be preachy but wanted to create awareness among those who are yet to take the vaccine that it is important,” says Rani.

Ravi, who is also conducting a kolu contest in and around the neighbourhood, says it’s important that families celebrating Navaratri take utmost care while inviting guests. Asking someone their vaccination status might be an uncomfortable question but through the invite people can send across a message that it is the need of the hour.

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“We usually invite 200 people over for kolu, but this time our guest list has been trimmed to 50-60 families,” says Ravi. He says the Sembakkam municipality has placed “vaccine stickers” at homes where all members have taken the jab and this is an important thing to watch out for this festival season.

At the home of SKPB Gopinath, managing director of Kancheepuram Vara Mahalakshmi Silks, a thermal checking instrument will scan guests before allowing them in. “The last three days of the festival is when we usually have maximum people coming home and when dinner is also served. This time, we have restricted the guest list and decided not to serve dinner but at the same time we have made sure all the rituals that are part of the festival are being observed,” says Gopinath.

Some gated communities that are opening their clubhouses for organising Navaratri events are regulating the flow of residents. At SSPDL Crescent in Kelambakkam, every block is allotted a particular day when its members can make their visit . “We have five blocks and we want only 10-15 people from each wing visiting the club house where the arrangements are displayed,” says Manju Pandit, a resident.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 12:41:47 PM |

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