Archive | January 2011

Pongal – Part 3


Part 1

Part 2

Kaanum Pongal

As the name says (Kaanum in Tamil means visiting) this pongal is meant for visiting friends and relatives.  Today thiruvizha (festival) will be held at the amman temple in neighbourhood village. We get decked up with silk clothes, matching ornaments and go to the festival in either bullock cart or by walk. Most of the people from villages around will get together and this will be treated as a grand gathering by people especially who have migrated away from the village. One can witness god’s procession, pooja, balloons, carousel (ranga rattinam), cotton candy (freshly made), boiled peanuts wrapped in cone shaped newspaper, popcorn, murukku, jackfruit et al at the festival. It will be just fun fun and fun all around with most of the kids holding on to one edge of the rubber band tied to the balloon and hitting it forcefully with palm nonstop… We will return home in the evening exhausted with handful of balloons and other stuffs…

Following this is the packing and teary departure 😦  We depart from our cousins with an aching heart though our next meet will be just months away.. where else will I choose to spend my summer holidays when I can have so much fun at my native? The travel tickets will be booked even before my annual exam starts 🙂 Next day we will reach home around 5 or 6am, snooze for a while and then get into the boring daily life routine… It will feel like entering into a new world with refreshed soul and mind…

The End

Wanna know about how Adi celebrates her pongal?

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Its just a two minute job.  We make her yell “Pongal-o-pongal” when the pressure cooker releases the steam. I know I am not doing justice to Adi in anyway after enjoying so much in the name of pongal.  I will try my best to take her to my native for one of the future pongal festival though I cannot guarantee the fun. What fun with most of cousins migrated to different parts of world and without my grandpa? My eyes are welled up now…

Okie dokie Can you guys guess the proof for steam releasing when the picture was taken?

Effort should be noted as you all know how difficult it is for a non-photographer to capture the picture at the right second that too with a proof…

Sumptuous Sunday

Sweet pongal
Lemon rice
Tamarind rice
Curd rice
Vazhakkai varuval (raw banana fry)

For people who know me well I prepared all this. Did you hear that?

Pongal – Part 2

Part 1

On these days the usual “eppadi irukeenga? or “sowriyama? (Eng: how are you? all is well?)  will be replaced with “Veetulae Paal pongiyacha?” (meaning – was milk boiled/overflowed at home? was pongal celebrated at home?)

Mattu pongal

The groundwork starts early afternoon by decorating garlands for the cows/bullocks/goats raised at home and cooking pongal specially for them. The garland will be made of neem leaves, mango leaves and other leaves and flowers so the animals can eat them straight from their neck… We (kids) make fun of other kids by wishing “a very happy birthday” for the mattu pongal.  Mid afternoon middle/tean-aged men from each home will go to the temple with their well decorated bullocks. Ladies were not allowed there may be because it will be too scary to see all the bullocks together with long horns pointing upwards.  There will be a race among bullocks and at the same speed they will reach home. As the temple is located at the outskirts of village and my grandpa’s home being at the entrance of the village I get to see most of the bullocks running in full speed to their home.  The beauty is bullocks know their way back home. Then, the men visits “kula deivam kovil” (Family deity temple) to make archanai (small pooja).

/** You can skip the snippet in blue.  I just wanted to record it here before it fades off my memory. This may not make any sense to the future generation. They may not even know who are their pangali’s or onnu-vitta-periyappa or onnu-vitta-chithappa but by recording this at least I will feel contented that I have passed on the minimum details I could recollect about our ancestors. **/

Going off on a tangent each family will/must have a family deity. In general the pangali’s  (men/brother’s having same ancestor and same family name)  have same family deity. My father’s family name is “Appu Kumarar” and mother’s side family name is “Vanniyar”. Appu Kumarar’s family deity is “Veeranar” and Vanniyar’s family deity is “Saambaan”.  People belonging to same family name will be treated as brothers and sisters.  The girl’s family deity will change to her husband’s after marriage.  Also, a special celebration called “Sirappu” will be held for each family deity once a year.  I am yet to gather all these details from M’s side.

Alright back to mattu pongal, at dusk grandma cooks the pongal and the same ritual as of previous day follows. That is we get ready with the plates and sticks for the parade headed by grandpa. The only change is today the pooja will be performed for veetu saami (representing late family members) at the nadu veedu (the pooja room).  I don’t remember seeing any idol or posters or framed pictures in the pooja room of any house at my village. All they will have is one kamatchi amman oil lamp made of bronze to represent the late family members of the family. The belief is that they are the ones who guard home against the evil eye.

Next comes the interesting and my favorite part, in a half broken dry coconut shell each of us will hold oil, segakkai, water, turmeric paste, kumkum, garlands and pongal in the same order and visit the cattle.  As it will be past evening the first and bravo one will hold chimney lamp and we will follow him in a row.  All the above said items will be applied on the forehead of the cows/bullocks/goats in the same oder symbolizing that they take oil bath with segakkai, get washed, get dressed with kumkum/garlands and finally eat pongal.  This is kinda due respect we pay to them for all the hard work they do throughout the year. My grandpa will feed the pongal and the person behind will wash their mouth with water.  Following this, the cattle will be filled with hays and other stuff for the cows to munch happily and go to sleep.  The farm animals will not be given any work on this day. All they do on this one day of the year is to rest completely. I mostly hold on to the turmeric paste or kumkum (easiest ones) and will keep it on their forehead by stretching my hands from a distance in spite of two guys holding the bullock from either side 😀 .  Next, grandma will make all of us stand together in the frontyard and take off drishti from us.  Drishti will be taken off by making us stand facing east and the drishti remover (grandma) standing in front of us facing west.  She will hold a small clay pot filled with burning charcoal, red chillies and salt and do an anticlockwise and clockwise circles head to toe for three times.  Post drishti removal we will be allowed to step inside after washing our legs with water and the clay pot will be taken to the street corner. Next day morning we can see group of clay pots at every street corner.  What else is left for the day? yep it is the dinner.  Dinner will be served with variety of non-vegetarian dishes. We all will sit in a row in jamakaalam and enjoy the food served on banana leaf chitchatting non-stop.  Needless to say the poor ladies of the house will be on their toes on all these four days. Mom will be at her best as a DIL and we hardly talk to each other… Wow I never imagined picturizing all these as I pen down would be so much fun and the positive vibes from this post is terrific…

Kaanum pongal – One pongal at a time – See you in the next post…


A promise kept

Remember the spelling test conducted last week?  Adi got all correct.

Remembering all the forthcoming tests we stopped by a nearby store on the same day night around 10pm and let her choose the gift. She looked perplexed as the choice was given to her for the first time (may be the last time – we thought in our minds looking at the girl running form one aisle to another) and settled down with this halfheartedly as the store was about to close…

She is halfway through the making of book…

Pongal – Part 1

Wishing one and all a very happy Pongal and Makara sankaranti…

I wish to record the way I celebrated Pongal during my childhood days so I can come back here when I wish to travel backward in time or when Adi asks me “what is it all about – the fun that you always talk about, that I am missing and you had in your childhood”…

The festive mood gets set well ahead of time. I mean around November when dad books the train/bus tickets to Tanjore. The Tatkal scheme was not in effect on those days. The shopping gets over by December and the packing starts early January. Mom usually gets new dresses for my cousins as well (Myself and my cousin sister used to get same type of dress in different color suiting our race). An added joy would linger in the air on years when I had to take time off from college/office. Isn’t that a thrill by itself?

I didn’t miss this fun even for a single year till my thalai pongal (first pongal post marriage) 🙂

The sojourn begins on the eve before Bogi. We depart home as a family by 6pm and board the bus/train around 10pm some years even 11pm owing to the traffic after waiting for hours sitting at the edge of suitcase amidst mosquitoes and other creatures. Every time when there is a new bus on the lane or the horn sound of train emerges from the distance I step forward to check if it is our turn. At last when it is our turn the joy of running back to mom to collect the luggages and board the vehicle is still fresh in my memory. If it is a bus travel (Thiruvalluvar transport corporation bus # 323) then I take the window seat next to mom and would happily retire to sleep with my head on mom’s lap and legs squeezed on my seats. Believe me this is how I slept till early 20s… On train (Rameswaram express) dad usually books the second sleeper class.

Bogi

Before the day dawns we will land at Tanjore junction and either reach my native (Pullavarayan Kudi Kadu) by bus (the straight bus that operates twice a day to my village) or reach Vaduvur (town closer to my village) by bus and hire a car (mostly white ambassador) from there. My village is around 25kms away from Tanjore town.  The bus ride will be spent either by catching up on the sleep or watching the paddy fields on either side of the road with cool breeze gently brushing through my cheeks and latest film songs at the background.  As we enter into the village we will witness every home burning old stuffs in front of their house. Rest of the day will be spent by juggling between maternal/paternal grandpa’s and chitthi’s (tamil name for mom’s younger sister) home. The best part is all relatives home is a street away so no one can guess which home we will be at any given time.  Anyways it doesn’t matter as most of the time will be spent by playing outdoor games.  Later today the thalaiyari (messenger from temple) will visit all houses and inform about the auspicious time to do pooja for the next day.

Pongal

Today we getup before the sun rises, take head bath, wear new dress and get ready for the pooja.  Every home will have a black mark or a small cut in front of the house that will be dug along the marked lines to the depth of 2 or 3 feets. This will be used along with firewood and charcoals to cook pongal for the next three days.  New mud pot with turmeric plant tied around will be used for cooking.  Stirrer will be the half part of empty coconut shell attached to medium sized stick.  As milk comes to boiling state and overflows we all will start saying shouting pongal-o-pongal and grandma will add required rice (new rice) to the milk.  Meanwhile a small pillayar (lord ganesha) will be made of fresh cow dung and placed at front yard. After pongal is well cooked, food and fruits will be spread in banana leaf in front of the pillayar and grandpa will perform surya pooja. After the pooja and kowtowing  grandpa will walk around the house calling out loud for crow and sprinkling the pongal in a bowl on top of the roof for the crows to eat. We will follow him by hitting a plate with stick, making maximum noise and shouting out to the fullest as “pongal-o-pongal”.  There will be a friendly rivalry among neighbors esp. between the kids from the household as which house is going to perform the pooja first… All of this will get done at the late by 7 am.  Rest of the day will be spent by greeting relatives, eating sugarcane fresh from the field and playing around. As my paternal grandparents house was located near the entrance to my village everyone who passes will stop by for few mins to chat with my grandpa… The day can be easily spent by simply sitting at the thinnai (porch) along with my grandpa…

Mattu Pongal – To be continued…..

Learning the art of Negotiation

from the little girlie at its best. The courses I attended at work for this soft skill sprang through the window as Adi is practically challenging me with this for anything and everything I want her to do. Anytime I ask request her highness to carry out some task she would say this with a whatever attitude “OK here is the deal” Let me clarify that by task I meant eating her dinner, drinking milk, cleaning up toys and finishing her homework and not anything related to helping me. Ok I agree that eating her food is a big help to me. Here goes the latest deal

Adi: Amma, we have a spelling test at school
Me: Wow !!! that’s great. Did your teacher ask you to prepare at home? May be I will ask appa to give you a surprise if you score full marks
Adi: Surprise? Ok then here is the deal
Me: (Squeezing my mind with what this time?)
Adi: If I score full marks appa can give me a big surprise and If I try my best appa can give me a little surprise.. ok?

how can I say no to this? Isn’t this a double-win situation for her? what is the limit for “trying her best”? From then on the talk at home was only about the options for the big and little surprise that we were about to forget the source for the surprise. She would have finished the test by now. It is not the matter of whether she is going to get the surprise or not it is the matter of whether it is big or little. We will get to know today evening… Phew I have a lot to learn from her…

It doesn’t stop with Negotiation yesterday evening we made vanilla color cup cakes as we were hibernating at home due to snow storm… While Adi was contemplating about what to say M said right on my face that it is sugary (No I am not blaming him I am happy as long as he says something when I ask him the nth time rather than being silent). All she said was “Mommy its not that I don’t like ’em but I don’t feel like eating it now”… Only when I promised her at bed time that I am asking so I can improve myself the next time and I will not feel bad about what she says she slowly said “You know mommy actually I didn’t like the cup cakes but I know that you tried your best..” Needless to say there was a lump in my throat and I hugged my sweat heart…

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2010. That’s about 16 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 78 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 107 posts. There were 113 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 69mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 27th with 133 views. The most popular post that day was Jack o lantern.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were networkedblogs.com, indianmommies.blogspot.com, ambulisamma.wordpress.com, mindfull-meanderings.blogspot.com, and google.co.in.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for show and tell letter l, show and tell letter k, parota, letter l show and tell, and show n tell letter k.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Jack o lantern October 2010
9 comments

2

Show n Tell – letter L February 2010
1 comment

3

Show n Tell – letter K January 2010
1 comment

4

School lunch menu June 2010
17 comments

5

About September 2009
4 comments