As a child, Mahathi S was always in awe of kolu. She grew up watching her mother decorate the kolu padi with dolls and did plenty of kolu-hopping as well. When she got married, she carried forward the tradition. “Navratri is all about power, devotion, music and colours. I used to help my mother set up the kolu when I was a kid. As I grew older, I started doing the park set-up from scratch. Keeping kolu, in general, is a big task as you need to wrap the dolls properly and keep them safe for the next year. But I look forward to these nine days, every year. In 2008, I got married into a Malayali family. But my in-laws are very encouraging of the tradition. I got my own stand, took some dolls from my mother and bought some as well. Since the first year of my marriage, I’ve been keeping kolu in my house,” begins the musician.
But the size of her kolu kept changing every year. She says, “Navratri is also a busy time for musicians. There used to be so many concerts planned during this time and I would end up travelling for one or two days. However, I never stopped the tradition. I used to keep a small kolu and asked my family to do poojai on days I wasn’t there. Over time, I decided to take up concerts only in Chennai as it didn’t feel right to fly in and out during this time. After that, I started keeping kolu elaborately.”
This time, the singer has a five-padi kolu. “I got five new dolls last year and I inaugurated them this time. Just like how I set up the park when I was young, my nine-year-old son did a Team Chennai set-up as we are huge fans of them,” smiles Mahathi.
Though we are in #Unlock5.0, the singer says the pandemic is still not over and one needs to be careful. “The usual Navratri vibe is missing, but it doesn’t matter as health should be our priority. Just because things have opened up, it doesn’t mean there is no coronavirus. Festivities are always fun, but celebrate them with utmost care. During pre-COVID-19 times, I used to have at least 20 people walking into my house during this time. But now, I worked out a Google Sheets and have given time-slots for my guests! I’m inviting only three-four people a day, and requesting them to sanitise and mask themselves owing to the current situation. But like always, I will be singing all the Navavarana Kritis as music is my way showing devotion to the almighty,” says Mahathi.