Getting dolled up in the best silk, decking up the house with beautiful bright deities seated aesthetically in various steps, drawing up complex kolams and rustling up a perfect sundal — this is a routine that many look forward to each year. As the pandemic has wreaked havoc and changed routines, golus and vethalapaaku, like other things, will go online this time.
Many residents of the city plan to meet through Zoom or WhatsApp video calls and show their golus to friends this time. Vibha Ram, a resident of RA Puram, says that from seven-step arrangement each year, she has planned to scale it down to three or five this year. “Since it is not safe to visit each other this time, my friends and I have been planning to have a Zoom conference on one of the days. There will be some children who sing, a keyboard and a dance performance too,” she says.
Ramanarayanan of Giri Trading Agency says that while there are people coming over to buy dolls, many of them have resorted to purchasing them online. “At our home too, the celebrations for golu will be scaled down a bit; some important guests will be invited over a couple of a days in a staggered way so as to ensure there is no crowding. With others, we will celebrate through Zoom calls,” he adds.
Golu and dolls will be literally scaled down at Shalini Muthukumar’s residence in Mylapore. With miniature dolls and miniature steps, she will recreate and celebrate golu with a novelty. “I plan to have a small village set-up and found dolls too. Every day, we will have a guest through Zoom call,” she adds.
West Mambalam resident and sari enthusiast Padmapriya Baskaran said her celebrations would be toned down this year.
“I usually present one sari a day during the nine days to guests. But this year I can’t invite people over, so I might either send the thamboolam over through online aggregators or use the ‘motta maadi thaamboolam idea — in flats people have planned to invite flatmates to the terrace and give the thaamboolam to neighbours,” she said.
The integral part of golu is the takeaways — sundal, vethalapaaku and return gifts. E-vethalapakku has emerged as an option with gift boxes that can be delivered to guests on pre-order. Quills and Spills, an online boutique, has been sending out curated gift boxes this Navarathri. Kavitha Govindarajan, its founder, says, “People can’t step out to different stores to buy return gifts. So we have 3-4 packages in different price ranges that people can opt for. From kumkum boxes to festive jewellery boxes to handmade masks, there are varied options that people can order through the Instagram page or website or WhatsApp,” she adds.