Friday, September 25, 2009

Patti's kitchen

Kitchens are still a central part of a women's life though the amount of time spent has drastically reduced compared to our seniors.

Thanks to technology, we now have blenders, mixers and grinders to substitue wooden churners(matthus), ammi kal and kal ural(grinding stone). We have pressure cookers, gas stoves, microwave ovens, stainless steel, glass,ceramic utensils to substitute charcoal stoves, mud utensils, kal chattis(stone vessels) and iya pathirams(lead vessels). Earthern mud pots which kept the water cool has made way for refridgerators and also empty mud pots used to act as a store house of vegetables.

The utensils of the bygone era were made of kal(stone0,iyam(lead), brass,copper,iron,gold and silver. It was believed that when food was cooked in these utensils the essential trace elements like brass,silver etc would get into our system, even gold was used though it was a prerogative of the rich.The food cooked would also taste good when cooked on slow fire, unlike fast food which can be cooked fast and lead us fast to an unhealthy life.

Our grandmothers used to spend a larger part of their time in the kitchen nevertheless they entertained themselves by talking philosophy, stories and by singing songs along with their co-sisters , mother in law and sisters in law. So they never felt the stress. And the food cooked with the vibrations of the mantras and shlokas were very tasty.

It was a pleasure to savour the food prepared with devotion. (Is that why koil prasadam is tasty?)It would drip with love. Cousins,uncles ,aunts and parents would sit around relish and enjoy.

Today's generation know not of kal chatti vattakuzhambu(a dish made with tamarind and sun-dried vegetables), iya chombu rasam, man chatti thanni(water) etc., No shlokas/mantras.

Oh yes, Where is the time to eat leisurely?

Wake up, cook fast/ reheat the cooked food , rush your kids to the school bus. You have a meeting at 10.00a.m. Got to cross the lifestyle bridge( I am talking about Hyd traffic) before the 8.30 traffic.

Well, we have arrived women, Thanks to science and technology. It has made life easier for us.

But did u say, we are stressed.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

why the delay?

My blogger stats at says that i am a blogger since 2007 but my post was first published in 2009. Any guesses, why?. Yes, I started in 2007 with the intention of writing travelogues but it never took off that is why my blog title reads my annual visit...

Madhurakali is our family deity and the temple is in Siruvacchur on the chennai trichy highway.

We visit the temple every year either during summer/winter vacation. Legend says that this kali is from Madurai. The unique feature of the temple at Siruvachur is that it is only open for worship twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays and on other special days like Amavasai, Tamil newyear, saraswathi poojai, Diwali, English newyear(1 jan).
The temple itself dates back to the Chola times. The legend goes that the original, main deity of this temple was a Goddess Chelliamman. A sorceror had the powers to control this Goddess and carry out all evil deeds through her..
Kannagi of the chillapadikaram fame had just set the whole city of Madurai on fire as a revenge for the Pandya King who put her innocent husband to death. He was falsely accused of stealing the Queen Manimegalai's anklet.
A furious Kannagi destroyed the city of Madurai in her grief and rage and wandered around the neighbouring country-side. That is when she came into siruvacchur to get some peace of mind. The story goes that Chelli amman sought her help to free herself from the clutches of the evil sorceror.The sorcerer was killed by Kannagi and his powers were destroyed. Filled with joy Chelliamman is said to have handed her the prime position of the main deity to Madura kali. Chelli amman now resides in the nearby periaswamy hillock.However, it is still tradition to perform puja and deeparadhana first to chellayi (towards the hillock). The successors of the Sorceror’s family (called pandarams)have continued as the main priests.
The other speciality of this temple is to light mavillaku.(lamps lit on little mounds of riceflour mixed with jaggery). The temple authorities have made provisions for pounding the rice flour there itself. One has to drape the traditional nine yard madisar and go about pounding the riceflour and then mix the flour with ghee and sugar to make mavilakku.

One has to really visit the temple to experience the vibrations of this temple.

Navarathri of yore

This is my favorite festival- Navarathri. Again I get nostalgic, Back in 80's I used to spend my dussehra holidays at Mylapore.

The whole of Mylapore around the divine kapali koil would turn festive. With lot of golu bommais being sold around the teppakulam(temple pond, push carts selling gift items,balloon walas, poo kadais etc. In pattis house, the room downstairs close to the hall would be decorated. All old thagara dabbas(biscuit tin boxes),and other wooden planks would be assembled to form the nine steps. the first few steps at the top would be placed with gods (all antique man bommais, some were even 50 years old)next few steps with rishis and munis, last few steps starts with birds, animals, followed by people who help us like postman, policeman etc.,not to forget the chettiyar and chettichi. and I used to build a park on the ground close to the first step with sand and use all the items like well, coconut trees, handpump ,plastic houses(all brought from teppakulam fair). In the evenings I went with Ramani chitti /sita mami to invite everybody and we also would get invited. In some houses children would be dressed in mythological characters like Rama, Sita etc.. Nine days of sundal and sweet from our neighbours like mani mama's house(the owner of Bhanu jewellers on Kutcheri road),Sri vidya manjal kungumam kadai Mami(don't know her name), Promo's house and rasika's house etc.,

The memories of Mylapore will remain etched and last till my life time. So again this navarathri I can't help but recall....