Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pre-navarathri shopping exprerience

The weekend just before the Navarathri starts is the time to shop for all that is needed to set up a colourful kolu at home.It was when a close relative wanted me to guide her in Navarathri shopping this year, I realised that a one-day shopping was long overdue for me too. We began shopping after an early brunch on Saturday.The weather was just fine, mildly warm even at noon.

We consciously kept the Mada veedhis for a look later in the evening. I knew that we would easily get overwhelmed with the varieties on the Mada veedhi and end up not looking at the other places to shop.

Dasavatharam set, in Kondapalli version

Terracotta dolls from Kolkata
Our first stop was Sankara Hall on TTK Road. It is a crafts exhibition with vendors from various states displaying many things, not just dolls. But there are four nooks that sell dolls. The one on the southern corner of the hall sells mud dolls, two in the centre rows have Kondapalli and Channapatna wooden toys. Another on the western row has terracotta dolls from Calcutta.

The mud dolls are the traditional images of gods and godesses. Mostly from Kanchipuram, some of them are from the borders of Andhra Pradesh.
The Kondapalli doll stall has interesting displays. Village scenes, bullock carts and a different version of the Dasavatara attracted us. All the stalls here offer a flat discount of 10%. But if you bargain hard, you could get an extra discount too.

Moving from there, we landed at the Khadi Gramodhyog outlet on R.K.Mutt Road. They have limited varieties, but handpicked ones. You will not find some of them in the stalls on the pavements of Mada veedhi. A small-sized Melkotte Vairamudi perumal in Plaster of Paris was dazzling in the bright lights. They pack the dolls well for you, but the price is fixed, no bargains!

We began the Mada veedhi shopping from the junction of East and North mada street after a quick buy of a mini readymade sari for my little niece at Rasi.
This junction, though closer to the temple area does not make a great place for the hawkers. The traffic flows into the junction from Mathala Narayanan street and both inward and outward flow of vehicles to north and east mada streets. It is a mad junction and one needs to be careful while doing shopping in the corner stalls.
Opposite B M Silks there are two stalls that caught our eyes with big dolls. Rajeswari comes from Meenabakkam after procuring the stocks from Panrutti. She was a very helpful and a pleasant personality. Her 'no' for your bargain comes with a smile, but offers a better price for the dolls you like!
The Chakrathazhwar has a Narasimha on the other side. We bought three big papier mache dolls of one foot height, for around Rs. 800 each.

Rajeswari with one of her big papier mache dolls
Ulagalanda perumal, the best seller of last year has come back this year too.
All that is needed to put up a 'park' alongside the kolu

Melkote Vairamudi Thirunarayana perumal

Gift items display in Vijaya stores

 We were looking for Panchatantra story depictions in dolls this year. The Aesop's fables like the 'Monkey and the Crocodile' story, 'fox and stork' story in papier mache again looked good. The 'monkey and the capseller' story was eye-catching. We could not get them all in one stall. But different hawkers have each of these stories. You could get them for Rs. 500 a set, if you bargain hard!

A long corridor, once part of the Vellore Lakshmi Ammal Kalyana Mandapam now Grand Sweets, has a huge display of dolls. Sri Jyothi Handicrafts from Puzhal hires this place for the last two years and brings in their stuff during this season. They said people order their requirement for the year in June / July. Basing on the trend, they make and bring the dolls here.

Selvi Stores, next to Grand Sweets & Snacks have teppakulam in different sizes. No doubt it is best suited for the side kolu. We found it very heavy to carry, so moved on.
We saw many children around a particular stall and peeped through them. It was a shop for all the items required for a park, the children make around the kolu. Mini chairs, merry-go-rounds, cycle rickshaws, bridge, fence, trees, shrubs, street lamps ... all in plastic. Yet perfect fixtures for the colourful scenes the kids put up alongside the kolu.

A short spell of rains made us break for some kuzhi paniyaram and coffee at the GSS Restaurant.
We wound up our shopping with thamboolam bags, manjal kumkumam and some traditional gift baskets from Vijaya Stores next to Indian Bank.

We got to know that the early pre-navarathri sales give the hawkers an idea of what the shoppers look for this year and they bring in more of those dolls during the Navrathri. They also want to sell off many dolls before navarathri to make space for more items during the festival. You could get the dolls at a good price during the pre-navarathri period. It goes up as the festival nears.

- R. Revathi

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