Lottery vendor Mayadevi’s ‘Mahabali’ used to be a hit at shop inaugurations and other functions during the season that fetched her anything between ₹2,000-3,000.
Mayadevi T.M, a 36-year-old lottery vendor, is not one to give up so easily. Had that been the case, she would not have survived two lockdowns and constraints of multiple containment zones that took a heavy toll on her livelihood since last year.
And on Thursday, coinciding with Atham, Mayadevi, who is settled in Guruvayur with her 13-year-old daughter, turned up clad in the attire of Mahabali at Thripunithura to sell lottery tickets. In the pre-pandemic years since 2015, she used to be one of the many Mahabalis to stroll along the streets of the temple town.
Her ‘Mahabali’ used to be a hit at shop inaugurations and other functions during the season that fetched her anything between ₹2,000-3,000. But the pandemic has put paid to all that for the second year running.
But far from being disheartened, Mayadevi chose to don the role of the demon king nevertheless purely for livelihood reasons. “People who otherwise ignore a lottery vendor do pay attention to one dressed up as Mahabali. That’s a start for me to pitch a ticket sale,” she said.
The ploy seems to be paying dividends as she is now selling more Onam bumper tickets than before her Mahabali avatar. She hopes to sell as many bumper tickets as possible giving herself as much chance of selling a winning ticket bringing in considerable commission.
Even before she donned the greasepaint for the procession, she has been a constant at the various contests held in connection with the Atham celebrations since 2010. Each candidate could contest in up to six events and there were times when she bagged prizes in all six.
“Mono act, fancy dress, and speech used to be my favourites. After a point, my daughter Lakshmi also joined me and between us we won so many trophies,” said Mayadevi who now misses all that excitement.
Notwithstanding the hardships of travelling during a pandemic, she keeps moving to different places for selling tickets. She was in Guruvayur before she came to Thripunithura and is now planning to go to Kottayam on Friday.
“I don’t want people to get used to the novelty of a lottery vendor turning up as Mahabali,” Mayadevi said.