Happy Ganesh Chaturthi people! This is one of my favourite festivals! Kozhakattais being only one of the many reasons why.
I have some lovely memories of Ganesh Chathurthi. When my Grandmother was living with us, I remember her frail frame swathed in a nine-yard cocoon of silk. She would sit on the kitchen floor and make her famous sweet and uppu kozhakattais, making delicate petal shaped cases for the sweet and savoury fillings. My sister and I would pester her and she would reluctantly agree to let us help. Our own cases were either too thick or too thin, but she would always include them in the pressure cooker telling us that they were just fine.
I remember going with my mother to Madavidhi in Madras and picking out our mann-pulaiyar and colourful paper umbrella to stave off the opressive heat.
I remember the giant puliayar statue in my college courtyard (I went to an unashamedly hindu college) that we would chat with every morning before heading to the day's first lecture. The day before chaturthi we would have a big puja and all of us would head back to class clutching sweet boondhi and some mixture.
I remember my first visarjan day in Bombay. I had no idea why people were packing up at 12:30 in the afternoon and getting ready to go home. A colleague dropped me under the Mahim - Bandra flyover and I remember walking home passed throngs of people carrying Ganeshas of all shapes and sizes, shouting out an unheard slogan 'Ganpathi Bappa Morya!'
I remember a year later, driving home from an office party on visarjan day and watching the famous Lal Bhag Ka Raja being escorted to his watery abode. It's a sight I will never forget. It was about 2 am and there were thousands of people lined along the road side waiting for their beloved saviour to give them darshan. The float itself was gigantic. Priests walked alongside it distributing prasad to the devotees.
This year will give me no memories of floats and kozhakattais. There will be no Nepean Sea rd Ganpati Mandal playing songs and dancing outside my window at 2 am. But there will be the memories of all the Ganesh Chaturtis gone past to give me comfort. (And Sundal and paysam that would have made my paati proud)