Long ago, every community was into community specific activities. However, in the last couple of centuries, factors like modernization, exposure to the outside world, have made everyone into traders. Professor, R. Vaidyanadhan, an eminent thinker, has in fact written a chapter on, *‘Vaishyavysation of India’, in one of his books, where everyone has become a trader. About 100 years ago, when the non-mercantile people got into business, they felt that the touch of the mercantile community was especially important to make them feel good and successful about their work. So, they came up with a novel idea.
The Navaratri Kolu usually consisted of a fat and prosperous trader and his wife placed alongside with other working communities. Not only for the festival was the well furbished dolls were placed but became a fashion to be kept in the retail outlets of non-mercantile communities. They felt that the vibration of profit was very important, just as how when one puts down the statue of a king like Rana Pratap, Shivaji, Harshavardana or Narasimhavarma Pallava made the atmosphere feel brave and heroic, similarly, by constantly being aware of the presence a lucrative, calm and composed trader represented by an idol made one feel good and gain huge profits in one’s business. When you look at that ideal representation for business, your mind goes into a mode where you feel you must work hard and be prosperous. So, based on that, if you want to get into a trading, business, entrepreneurship mode you look at the pictures of merchants and immediately you get into that mode.
The kolu was basically not alone the reflection of the varna system but also served as a metaphor of the four Puruṣarthas, ḍharma, artha, kama and mokśā. The various professions of the society at various times were reflected in the kolu. The reason behind adding one doll every year was because it was constantly evolving and changing while the old also stayed with us.
The new traders of the last few hundred years, who felt though they did not belong to the mercantile community, felt that there was nothing barring them from trading. They began to trade and to be businessmen. Along with them to have the feel-good factor and the positive profit vibration they had Chettiar bommai, dolls of a Chetty couple. It is known as Chetty in Telugu and Kannada, and Chettiar in Tamil. Chettiar is more respectable way of addressing as ji, similar variants in Telegu and Kannada include Chetty vaaru, Chetty garu etc. The main difference lies in the fact that Chetty is a common, friendly way of calling and Chettiar is a respectable way of saying. Both are positive and non-offensive ways to address the non-mercantile community. So, they started keeping the idols of Chettiar couple or Chetty couple in their shops and they felt it was adding their business acumen. Whenever they looked at the idols or the statues, they felt that they should further increase their acumen. The doll gave the merchants a kind of a goal post, an ambition, and a purpose for their outlet and for themselves. Since then this became the norm.
Over the last few decades, no one really knows why this Chettiar couple doll disappeared from all the places. They were replaced by some other items, which were usually imported, bearing a different idea of prosperity. There is a general feeling that there is nothing wrong to have every good luck talisman with us, but it should add on to the good luck that we already possessed.
The idea of introducing Damu and Bhagiyam to all of you is to re-establish and to re-vitalize your financial status, commerciality, and entrepreneurship. Damu and Bhagiyam are going to be here with you time and again through tiny conversations which will add prosperity and wealth to your business, profession, and family life.
Damu and Bhagiyam, the Chetty couple, as you wish to know will start conversing amongst themselves and sometimes converse with you. They will sit in a verandah and talk with you about the business strategies that will help you enhance your business profitably.
You can also explore wisdom, wit, and practical ways of life without compromising on ethics and values of our country. And keep in mind, the great religious and spiritual philosophies for a pragmatic and purposeful life. Hence Damu and Bhagiyam will hopefully help all of us to live a happy and a fortunate life.
Stay tuned to with The Verandah club, to listen to the interesting and jovial conversations of Damu and Bhagiyam!
*Caste as a Social Capital, Prof. R. Vaidyanathan, (Westland Publications Private Limited, 2019).
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