Friday, August 12, 2011

Avani Avittam - A retrospection!

It was Friday evening - Next day was Avani Avittam ; the South Indian brahmin festival mainly for men where they change their 'poonal' the white thread worn across their torso.
'Are you going to make idly and appam?' my husband quipped after we got back home!!

'Oops !! I had no idea! You should have reminded me' I shot back. Easiest thing to do as humans is blaming others for our shortcomings and it comes very naturally to most of us.Sigh!!

Well, luckily we did have the idly batter ready. And I had happily postponed the job of calling up my mom-in-law and inquiring about the usual menu and procedure to the last minute... Well thanks to the presence of idly batter I guess it was a not-so-bad avani avittam. I did manage to make idly and appam and both results were pretty satisfactory.

Coming to think of it, in today's fast world with our continental methods of having cereal for breakfast and salads for lunch and dinner and having routine 5 day weeks and lazy weekends ,a lot of things handed down by culture are getting missed out.

Of course we do try to do the best we can, but the term itself; " best-we-can" is a gateway to excuses!!

'Its a weekday!!! Not much can be done!!'

'Its been such a busy week! Had no time to plan' etc etc.

Its definitely a good thing that there do exist some of us, who try to do something rather than proudly declaring 'I dont do all of that!! I have no belief' . There are also some folks who follow the ritualistic procedures by the book and do it with a staunch reverence and absolute discipline.

There was a time when any of the 'Things to be done' - be it the Appam for breakfast, the japam to be done, the vessels used, the mantras to be recited, the order of the chants,the postures you assume as you chant the scriptures, the menu for lunch - These were performed with strict discipline . They were hard and fast norms in the family that had to be adhered to , no matter what.

At the end of it , it did enhance the personal discipline. Made people more active and brisk probably!

Today if you are performing it with your parents, Yes! High chance of sticking to the methodology without any 'adjustments' . But if you are on your own or in some outside country - As long as you adorn a new thread, Avani Avittam done!! I cannot deny that there are definitely youths who have been brought up with utmost belief in these practices that they strictly follow them.

These would become unique specimens in their coteries and marked by elders as 'examples-to-be-followed'. Quite contrary to the state of things a century ago when there were a countable young fellows who disregarded these practices and were branded as 'examples-not-to-be-followed.'

Earlier the social set up was that people following similar cultural and traditional practices were physically located together as a group may be in a village. When done in a group anything does not need too much enforcement. Then migrations to greener pastures , at first from villages to cities and then to different parts of the world have caused some deterioration.

On the positive side, the development of information technology has provided a whole lot of benefits and is utilized by some to help follow the tradition. Take for instance, our household 'vadhyaar' (priest/pujari). He has made videos of the whole japam/ tharpanam to be followed for avani avittam and uploaded the same on You Tube and his own personal website. So many men outside of India would have to been able to complete the avani avittam proceedings to near perfection thanks to that. He also uploaded the same as pdf documents in Tamil as well as in English. This is what my husband used to complete the procedure.

Most rituals are meaningful practices handed down to us by our ancestors and practising the same should benefit us though we may not be able to gauge or measure the same.Passing it on to future generations is our responsibility and to do so we should start practising them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Eephant- Lost N Found!!!

My kuttu;s eephant had an adventure last Sun
We had gone to the local library with Kuttu on the stroller...Kiddo insisted that we should take his elephant along...So we did!!
After browsing available books and checking out a couple we headed back home. While I was doing this, my hubby was showing our son some thing on the library net browsing desks to keep him occupied.
After we came back home we got into a Skype call with my mom. 'Kutta! Show Patti your elephant!' my mom remarked. Thats when my husband and I gave each other a 'Oh No' look. We had left the eephant at the library next to the computer terminal. Usually we leave it back in the stroller outside the library but Kuttu wanted to bring him along as well.
The library was closed for the day and there was no way of getting it back.
We abstained from using the E-word in English and Tamil lest our kuttu got reminded of it. Also tried to keep him engaged with something else!! I know!! TOO MUCH OF A FUSS about a soft toy!!! But kids can be really obsessed with a few toys and only if you have kids you'll be able to relate !!!
Luckily he did not seem to mind its absence and slept off.
The next day first thing in the morning I rushed to the library!! Luckily they had tucked our soft skinned pachyderm safely in a drawer!!
One end i was too happy for my son!! I had already started building up plan B in case it was not found!! About making a trip to the zoo to get a new one!! In all of Singapore, we found that elephant toy only there. Strange, yet true!! Thats closer to a real elephant unlike the cartoonish ones we get elsewhere.
On the other hand, I guess I have also kind of got sentimentally and stupidly attached to that soft toy!!! It has become like a family member now anyways!!!!