For Mylapore’s jadai maker, it’s a labour of love

The Tamil month of Aadi

has begun and Mylapore resident N.D. Vairavel doesn’t have a minute to spare. He is busy making special
jadais
(decorated plaits) that will adorn
utsava
idols (those that are taken out in procession) of Amman and Ambal in various temples across the city.

Fridays in the month of Aadi are considered auspicious and devotees have booked his services in advance for the beautiful, hand-made jadais. “I have been making them for over 25 years now. I ensure that I make a special one for the idol of Goddess Karpagambal, the consort of Lord Kapaleeswarar in Mylapore. On Aadi Pooram, I will make one using bangles,” explained Mr. Vairavel, 68, as he pored over boxes of nylon wigs, top-knots, glittering stones, coloured pieces of cloth, glue and cardboard in his tiny room.

Mr. Vairavel, who grew up in Mylapore — where life, for many, revolves around the Kapaleeswarar temple — makes the
jadais
as a token of his devotion. “I used to see the priests in the temple deck up the idols and I too wanted to do something. I ensure that the designs are not repeated and they match the current style,” he said.

Having picked up the skill from his mother, who made
jadais
out of flowers for relatives, he chooses to make them using stones, cloth and other items since they last longer. “I buy the materials from Parry’s Corner and even pick up things from a local fancy store. There are hundreds of different patterns and colours in the stones and they will make the
jadais
more beautiful,” he said.

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