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Visakhapatnam: Masks, sanitisers, Coronavirus kits to find a place in 'vayanam' baskets
This year, don’t be surprised if you receive masks, sanitisers and a Covid keychain as a part of the ‘vayanam’ during ‘Varalakshmi Vratham’
Visakhapatnam: This year, don't be surprised if you receive masks, sanitisers and a Covid keychain as a part of the 'vayanam' during 'Varalakshmi Vratham'.
While many prefer to confine themselves to performing puja at home, some devise ways to celebrate with a few invitees, adding safety kits to the vayanam baskets. In several South Indian households, married women perform Varalakshmi Vratham to appease the boon-giving wealth Goddess by offering nine items, performing puja, reading out the vratham story and inviting women home to offer 'thamboolam' (a set of bangles, a blouse bit, turmeric and vermilion holders, a coconut, betel leaf and nuts, goodies and a container of soaked chickpeas) and some gift.
The vratham is observed on the second Friday of the auspicious Sravanam or the Friday before the full-moon day. However, amid the coronavirus pandemic, many plan to avoid gatherings at home unlike previous years. But they intend to make do with limited invitees to offer thamboolam which plays a significant part of the celebrations. "Since this year, it is 'tholi panduga' (first festival) for my daughter-in-law, I decided to celebrate it at home, inviting a very few women.
However, we want to ensure that those arriving at home are armed with masks. For safety reasons, each invitee will be given a different time slot for the thamboolam," explains Vijaya Lakshmi Anupindi, an auditor, who has been observing the vratham for the last 24 years.
Interestingly, the traditional goodies that form a part of the thamboolam take a 'Covid' twist as masks and sanitisers get added to the gift sets. With Covid-19 cases continue to rise steadily, B Gowri, a resident of Sankara Mattam Road plans to perform puja, inviting home either one or three 'muthayidulu' (married women). "Normally, we offer silver flowers as a part of the return gift to women. But this year, silver flowers will be replaced with a pair of masks, gloves and a Covid keychain. The keychain aids in contactless opening of the doors and elevators which is the need of the hour," Gowri emphasises.
Entrepreneurs who are engaged in catering to return gift orders say that a lot of customisation has gone into crafting gift baskets. "For instance, some wanted cotton masks, a sanitiser, a Covid keychain, a sanitiser pen, a Lakshmi coin, a set of glass bangles and a mehendi cone to be included in the goodies set, while others placed an order to add Covid kits (a pair of sanitisers, masks and gloves) to the gift basket," says M Yegna Priya, founder of Gnapika Arts and Crafts.