Colour Coded ….. Navrang!
It is Navratri – nine nights of Garba – Dandiya Ras. And also nine days of Mahalakshmi festival. Each region has a special way of celebrating this festival. Kolkata is famous for its Durga Puja.
Mumbai also has a unique, a very distinct way of celebrating this festival of the Goddess….. Mumbai Navrang. The nine colours of the nine days.
The ancient Mahalakshmi Temple of Mumbai, which is frequented by the worshippers all around the year, truly comes alive during this time. Apart from the long serpentine queue of the devotees and the grand fair, there is one more special feature.
Each of these nine days, the Goddess Mahalakshmi is prettily decked up in rich sarees of nine different colours. The temple issues a release in advance, giving the colours of these nine sarees for the nine days. The local newspapers publish these ‘Colour of the day’ …. and also the colour of the next day.
………. And then the entire city is flooded with that particular ‘Colour of the day’. Now since last so many years, almost all the female population of the city very earnestly follows this tradition. Wherever you go, whether it is a vegetable market, a transport bus or the railway station — everywhere it will be only one colour.
It is not as if only the traditional, old-fashioned orthodox women observe this trend, even the youngsters, college-going girls also are particular about matching the colour of their salwar-kameez or shirts or stoles with the colour of that day. And why only girls or women, one can see that even some boys co-ordinate their attire with the day’s colour. Of course the male brigade may not do it for all nine days, but they do try to wear the same colour at least on one or two days.
The colour for Thursday was yellow. And this is how a local railway platform looked like on that day —
Picture courtesy: Triveni
If you enter an office – any office, the entire female staff would be in same coloured dresses. Get inside a ladies compartment of local railway, only one colour would meet your eyes. There is so much of enthusiasm that the ladies discuss and plan their choice of attire well in advance. Some, of course, pick up a matching one from their daily wear. But most of the women don’t miss this chance to air their fineries……a silk or brocade saree of the colour of the day, matching accessories like bangles, earrings, hand bags….they really go all the way.
One whole page of the local newspapers is dedicated to the photographs of groups of women in that day’s colour. Office colleagues, bank employees, school teachers, even ladies clubs of housing societies click themselves in groups and send it to the newspaper in a hope to shine on the colour coded page.
This entire exercise may not have any great significance, but it definitely brings some novelty, some welcome change in the mundane routine of the fast, busy metro life.
And indeed, it is a great sight to witness these — Navrang.