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A touch of nostalgia, on All Hallow's Eve

Maami, Maami, Golu vecha sundal,
Illatti kindal!

I remember getting dressed in my pattu pavadai (silk skirts) and walking up and down our streets with my group of friends during Navrathri. Our job was to go to every house that had kept a golu, stand outside their gates and recite the above-mentioned chant. It normally resulted in the lady of the house coming out with a grin and inviting us in for that Navrathri staple. If the oldies of the house were present, then we were urged to earn the sundal by singing a song dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, usually to their own peril.

After the resultant cacophony, we were given the thamboolam, with some steaming sundal wrapped in old newspaper. Objective accomplished, we used to rush out with the booty, devour it on the way, discuss the merits of that sundal with respect to the previous house’s efforts and then go to the next house. By the time we finished the street, it was usually dinnertime and we would all be feeling slightly sick. But that never stopped us repeating it the next day and the next, till Vijayadasami.

Why am I prattling about Navrathri and sundal now? Well, last night, when I was walking home from work, I came across many a wicked witch and evil magician walking the streets, armed with broomsticks and wands. The Jack O' Lanterns gleamed evilly on some doorsteps and the dark creatures were on the prowl. It was Halloween after all, and pretty soon, the ubiquitous 'trick or treat' filled the air.

'Treats' in the form of teeth rotters like gooey marshmallows, toffee apples and other assorted sticky sweeties that children so love were dispersed at every house. Most of these 'monsters' were too little to figure out what the 'trick' part of the threat entailed. One tubby skeleton was really confused when I asked him what trick he had in store for me and looked ready to burst in tears as he thought he wasn't going to get a fistful of chocolates for his trouble.

But the older ones preferred the tricks to the treats. More than a month beforehand, the Council had put up notices in shops, tersely warning the shopkeepers not to sell flour and eggs to 'suspicious looking teenagers'. To me, all teenagers look shifty-eyed at the best of times; how does one weed the 'regular' ones from those buying Halloween gunk? Seemed like the local teens agreed with me as some unfortunate souls got their windscreens covered in eggs, despite of the warnings.

Despite the hype and the hungama surrounding the whole Halloween thing, to me, it lacked the magic of our old Navrathri days. We dressed up in our finery and got yummy (healthy!) sundal from most houses. Belting out Carnatic music songs that bore no resemblance to the original in various sruthis was pure enjoyment. Though pain flit across several of our audiences faces, I am sure they enjoyed it too.

But the tiny terrors banging on the doors, creating a din outside definitely seemed to be having the time of their lives. Though they had the parents' nightmare, sugar rush, to contend with at the end of the day, the accompanying adults seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. Jack O' Lanterns flickered away and the loo rolls wafted madly in the autumn gust.

Maybe it is just I, getting jaded and old before my time. Trick or treat, anyone?

Posted by DesiGirl 8:38 pm  

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