by Dr. Madhav Prabhu
Well, it’s Navratri and everyone suddenly seems to be so excited, you can’t live in Belagavi and claim you are not aware of the festival. The Navaratri is back and so are the dilemmas and designs, it’s a little too heavy on the pockets of men but it’s time they pamper the Devis who take care of every aspect of their lives. They say that in Navaratri the Devi comes home and stays with us, but I believe every mother, sister, wife, girlfriend, or even your maid are Devis who stays with us all year long and blesses us with their presence. If you don’t agree with the maid thing give her a leave for a week and you can see what the other Devis do to you. The maid is the goddess of peace in every household, sometimes also the goddess of cleanliness. Well, let’s not go into this, at least not while we are married and seemingly happy.
So speaking of Navaratri, let’s first clarify that there are four Navatatris in a year and not every region celebrates all of them, and that’s why we find the North Indians having another Navaratri at other times. The four Navaratri are Sharada, Vasanta, Magha, and Ashada, the exciting one for Belagavi is the Sharada Navaratri which comes in spring. It’s when the rain is over, Amboli is overflowing, it’s green, and its close to the harvest so it’s a time to be elated.
Now that we know when we are celebrating it, we should know of the dilemmas faced by every Devi during the festival. But before that understand why the Devis face this dilemma, essentially they have to look beautiful during the dandia, and by looking beautiful it has to be for more than the neighbor or the friends, I, however, find every woman beautiful so don’t get feminist with me.
Two it’s an opportunity when the Danawas called husbands or boyfriends cannot refuse to buy her anything she wants (I am not being a chauvinist and many Devis are empowered and spend on their own). Still, it does give us hubbies a lot of pleasure to see their wives in different colors, its a break from the colorless hard-working life of us middle-class men. Third every Devi knows it’s time to show off the different designs in her wardrobes, on nine consequent days, tell me which other festival allows this.
The dilemma starts with which color to wear, and suddenly like the declaration of Eid, there is this declaration of the colors for the nine days which starts appearing on social media without any warning. Well it’s not that difficult and there are nine forms of Devi who are worshiped during this period and the color goes according to the form, it has something to do with the day of the week too. If you start Monday your colors will be as follows: white, red, royal blue, yellow, green, grey, and orange so if Navaratri starts on Monday you have to wear white on that day and the rest of the colors follow and then if the days are repeated you have pink and purple to fill in, so if you have a second Monday coming you don’t wear white, you wear pink. To me every Devi looks beautiful in any color but if she insists she should go ahead. The colors are all vibrant and can add so much more excitement to life, the men sometimes try to match it with their shirt color, but it’s only Govinda who can carry a green or a yellow I guess, not thinking of pink at all. My only complaint is that these colors leave men with no option but to stick to their whites and blues, but then again the colors are meant for Devis and not Danawas. The groups of Devis all dressed in the same color and posing for a photograph is quite a common sight in these days.
For an ordinary middle-class male, the dilemma would stop here but women are from Venus and it never stops at this, the next innocents to come under fire are the tailors, they are in my view victims of their own creativity and designs and you will understand this if you ever visit a ladies tailor with your Devi. When we were small, blouses were blouses and I remember an aunty who took an old blouse for measurements and stitched a new one based on that size, there was just one design and that’s it, the emphasis was on matching it with the saree. Today a blouse is a fashion statement, backless, strapless, string, knot, u-shaped, v-shaped and so on, so many problems our Devis face picking up a blouse, luckily we men have it simple, our shirts are either with a collar or collarless and we are done. The tailor takes measurements which almost always leave something wanting as no Devi is easily satisfied with whatever he does. But then there are the lehangas, the skirts, the saree, the ghagras, and the dresses which compensate for minor mistakes. For us men, it’s a happy feeling to see a Devi, dressed to her satisfaction, and when she gives that one beautiful smile, it feels like you are with an apsara even though they left with nothing in your pockets, thinking of the upcoming Diwali becomes a nightmare at such times.
For us men dressing is never intrinsic, we are Danawas after all but walking with a beautiful Devi by your side is very satisfying, neighbors envy owners’ pride. Happiness, however, is in these small moments to see your loved ones smile and although we strive for this every day, the strain of everyday living limits this to only the festivals.
The Dilemma does not stop here, the next pick is the dance classes, in the entire year our Devis and Danawas find only these days to dance and so the steps have to be perfect and, as necessity is the birth of every creation, we do have the birth of several dance classes in the city. Which one to pick is very difficult. The garbha or dandia you can say is essentially a dance dedicated to the goddess to please her with your devotion, has now developed a few commercial overtones, you can see the dandia sticks which are sold around the city, decorated and bedazzled, gone are the days of plain sticks with red paint. No dance class is empty and it is their season of plentiful with Devis of all ages and body types trying to put their best foot forward, the Danawas also try but simply lack the grace. The several paid Dandias with attractive prizes are not to be missed. Every street also has a free for all dandia and nobody can complain. The Devis who otherwise refuse to give darshan except on mobile phones suddenly show their Pragat Avatar, the goddess who otherwise refuse to leave the TV soaps are out in their numbers, the Devis who otherwise refuse to exercise suddenly show zeal and stamina, well you cannot guess the Adbhut Mayas of the Devis I guess, never underestimate them ever. Men also move a few steps but most are like me they have two left legs.
The Dandia Venues are also dilemmas, put up by the many politicians who are aspiring, perspiring, or retiring. The usual choices are the curated plush lawns with multicuisine menus making a choice that much more difficult.
And then the nine days are over and life comes back to a standstill, the Devis, however, have one last rite and that is to teach a lesson to the by now vanquished Danawas and that’s the demand for a ransom of gold. Dasara is one of the three and a half Muhurtas to purchase gold, and I don’t know who made this rule but it is heavy on my pocket too and the Devis now face their last dilemmas, which design to purchase and which ornament to put that design on, this actually is not that simple, the design has to be unique, it should not be worn by any other Devi in the friend’s circle and should leave the Danawa some money for the Diwali saree too, but divine as she is, she manages it perfectly well and again the smile is priceless.
On the last day when the Danawa sits with his wati of Srikhand doing his account, he may not be left with much, but he is happy witnessing his mother, sister, wife or girlfriend smile because that is priceless. I believe every day should be a festival and we should value every lady in our life every day and not like the leaves of the Apta(bauhenia) tree which are equivalents of gold for only a day. I believe every day should be spent making the Devi in your life happy because when she is happy there is peace and prosperity and the entire year is a lifetime of happiness and bliss. I think every man should take this opportunity called Navaratri to put that smile on his Devi and none should force her to a moment where she has to say # metoo, and if she does say me too, it has to be in reply to your love you.