Though the dolls of our late leaders J. Jayalalithaa and Abdul Kalam occupy this Navaratri season, here is actress-turned-educationist Aparna Bharani Pillai (who acted in Pudhukottaiyilirundhu Saravanan with Dhanush), who has chosen a topical issue for this year’s Dussehra. Aparna, who’s well-known for her creative and thematic Golus, has adopted the theme ‘Rally For Rivers’, the nationwide awareness campaign to revive dying rivers — she handpicked dolls to narrate the story of how each and every river was born, with mythological depictions.
The danseuse has achieved yet another feat, which reiterates the theme of ‘connecting rivers’ with the support of students from her Shrine Vailankanni International School. She, along with 25 students and teachers, created south India’s biggest rangoli with a 22.56 meter diameter (first-of-its-kind) at Thiru Vi Ka Park — the work talks about the need for preserving our rivers and how water sources are polluted by human beings.
“Every year, I make sure that I pick up something unique for my Golu, which is also contemporary. The reason I say they are exclusive is because you don’t get the dolls required for the ‘Rallying for River’ idea ready-made. I sat and worked on the theme, taking into consideration minute details with my school kids a month before Navaratri commenced, and custom-made these dolls. It was exhausting, but also a gratifying experience.”
In a run-through of various rivers from Kaveri to Chennai’s Cooum and other major rivers, Aparna explains how they originated and the fables associated with them.
The depiction of how river Cauvery was born is fascinating. During the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvathy on Mount Kailash, the entire celestial population gathered there and hence it was dipping down — unable to bear the weight. Shiva then asked sage Agasthiar to go south to balance the weight. Shiva took river Cauvery from his tangled locks and filled it in Agasthiar’s kamandalam, requesting her to flow wherever the latter pointed.
The Vaigai river in Madurai is depicted with the tale of how Sundareshwarar commanded the Ganges (which he bore in his matted locks) to descend to the earth as a river — to satisfy the thirst of Gundotharan, who overeats during the wedding of the Lord with Meenakshi. It assumed the name Vaigai as the river took the boon that even if one touches its waters, his/her sins must vanish!
Similarly, other major rivers including the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Thamirabarani, Tapti, Narmada, Godavari occupy the series, which concludes with the Cooum. “You know, Cooum was in fact, the holy Ganges created by Lord Shiva — and it was the main source of fresh water used by the people of then-Madras during the British period. Sadly, those who ruled later made it a drainage course inside the city of Chennai and Cooum is presently spoilt by filth and pollution. Hope it changes soon!” concludes Aparna positively....