Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Uriyadi at Varagur

Today is Sri jayanthi and all hindu households sport a festive look in the evenings. Houses are decorated with festoons of mango leaves, maa kolam(rangoli) and foot prints of Lord Krishna drawn with wet ground rice flour.

Traditionally , savories like murukku ,cheedai and sweets like vella avul(jaggery and parched rice) and vella cheedai, vella appam along with payasam are made with lot of devotion and care. This is then offered to God as Neivedhyam with butter.
A story goes that when lord Krishna was born , his maternal uncle Kamsa had a nightmare and clenched his teeth which produced the sound ‘naranara’ and hence cheedai , which produces the same sound while eating is offered to god.

Temples too celebrate this festival with special pujas, alankarams and a customary sport called uriadi. Uriadi is famous at Varagur Venkatesa perumal temple. This temple is at a picturesque place on the banks of River kudamurutti, a tributary of River Cauvery in Thanjavur district, Tamil nadu.

I visited this temple five years back but still the calmness and simplicity of the temple is vivid in my memory.

We drove to Varagur from Lalgudi (B’s maternal grand parents home. From the main road ,we drove through a serpentine mud road flanked with emerald green sesame fields and a brook which led to the temple in the midst of a Agraharam. Agraharams are colonies where practicing Brahmins have their houses. The main deity here is Venkatesa perumal. Richly decorated Silver idols of the god and his consorts on a silver swing are a treat for one’s mind and eyes.

The uriyadi performed here during Sri jayanthi draws many devotees from neighbouring villages. Savouries like cheedai, murukku and some money is tied in a bundle and this bundle is then tied at the top of a slippery pole called ‘vazhukkumaram’. My MIL who has witnessed this recalls how castor oil is smeared on the pole to make it slippery so that it makes the task of reaching the top difficult. Many devotees climb the slippery pole to reach the top. The one who manages to reach the top gets the booty.

The festival here lasts for 11days with bhajans, discourses, veda parayanam and ends with Rukmini Kalyanam .

Monday, August 30, 2010

My family tree on Geni

Twenty five years back I enjoyed the company of houseful of people during my vacations. All of us staying in various cities assembled at our grandparents house in Chennai. My cousins along with our parents, grandparents filled the house and each day was like an occasion.

The visits of our parent’s uncles, aunts, second cousins and third cousins and our visits to their houses and other family ocassions completed our vacation. These get-togethers forged a strong bond amongst all the relatives.

Weddings planned during holidays added more fun and if it was planned away from Chennai then it was more merrier. Travelling by trains and buses to the wedding venue with an army of relatives blocking a whole compartment/bus was absolute joy. I have enjoyed many such wonderful moments with my folks. One such cousin was Radhika (Her great grandfather (GGF) and my GGF were brothers)and that makes radhu my third cousin.

With passage of time, I lost contact with her though our mothers met during some Chennai weddings. I recently pinned her on a social networking site where I placed her through a display photo (surnames have changed and is now based in Atlanta). We immediately exchanged mails and now share all those beautiful memories over mails and during our telecons. She introduced me to our family tree on Geni.

Geni, again is a networking site connecting relatives with a family tree. It displays the relationship at the top of the tree and has a news wall where you can share information and photos with relatives who are in the branch. I have also appended my father’s side (edakkudi branch) to the tree. We are all scattered all over the world while rooted to Edakkudi, practically this whole village (3kms from Mayavaram) belonged to my GGGfather.

Today , Geni tree shows that I have 900+ relatives(500+ blood relatives) and it is still growing. To this tree I have also appended my MIL(lalgudi) and FIL( tiruvaiyaru) family and so I am still counting.

In modern society, generally most of the families have single/two children. Children of the next generation miss the pleasure and warmth of extended family members during vacation and also work and other priorities are grounding most of us and we are unable to attend many family functions, though here i must admit i never miss an opportunity and take my children to their maternal and paternal homes on all vacations.

Geni has helped me connect with so many relatives and it is really nice to see the shastiaptha poorthi(60th birthday) and sadabhisheka(80th birthday) photos of senior relatives, the birth announcement of young ones etc. Old people also share and record some important incidents , anecdotes and sepia toned photos of their youth which would have otherwise gone unnoticed. It also gives moments of pleasure to old people who are unable to meet their relatives in far away places.

People who are interested in connecting with relatives should discover Geni and build their tree and this will also serve as a gentle reminder for our next gen to know about their ancestors.

This is my golden post(50th post) and I dedicate this to all the people on my family tree especially the elders.

Friday, August 13, 2010


During our weekend trip to Bidar, we went to a place called chaubara, a typical olden day bazaar where bidriware artisans worked in very old shops. Bidriware is a metal handicraft. The handicraft is supposed to have originated in Iran and patronized by the Deccan rulers from the 15th century. The art is usually handed from generation to generation and is now crafted only in Bidar. ( as told by the artisan)

The artisans in the shop we went to, had an order of making tea coasters for the 2010 Delhi Common wealth games and so they were making it with the name ‘ Delhi 2010’ arched on an edge of a round metal plate of 3 inch diameter. The base metal is an alloy of zinc and copper which is brittle in nature and does not corrode/rust and has an advantage of being polished with just coconut oil. On one side of the plate was a beautiful free hand rangoli pattern drawn and later engraved with a sharp chisel to an appropriate depth ,enough to fit in a thin silver wire. The silver wire is then embedded into the groove by hammering.

Later on a combination of chemicals are applied to the surface of the metal which transforms the metal to jet black. The final polishing with sandpaper and coconut oil sets the silver inlay work in sharp contrast to its satiny black background
Bidriware products are traditionally designed in the form of cosmetic boxes, surahi, vases, paan dabbas in various shapes like recangtle, oval, round, fish, leaf shapes, water jugs, wine decanters, hookahs etc. but with passage of time it has given shape to cigar boxes, ashtrays, cufflink, fruit bowls and now as tea coaster for commonwealth games.

The articles are reasonably priced at the artisans workship compared to the prices at the gift shops at hotels.

The below show piece(black one) costed me Rs. 350 at the artisans place while the same product( same design and size) was sold at the hotel for rs.800.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Friends Forever

Thank you Blogadda for announcing the theme . Friendship and friends were one subject on which I wanted to make a post since long but for some reason never prioritized it and now Blogadda’s contest has nudged me to write this and so here goes my ode to all my friends who have touched and influenced my life.

I am a friendly and a communicative person and have made many friends in school/college, at work ,near home and now through blogs.

I still remember my school friends though I am not in touch with any of them. Having studied in many schools I had many friends. I don’t remember my nursery/kinder garden friends. But my first friend in school was Poovarasi who also stayed close to my house (Class I, st. Thomas, HAL, Bangalore,) Sri Vidya in Class II,( kumarans, mylapore), Debra in class 3, Meena in class 4 &5, ( chennama memorial school,Bangalore), class 6 was Radhika naik(BSVP) and when she got transferred it was Kiran Lotia in class 7, when I got into high school Kiran’s section changed and now it was Anitha, Lalitha and Akhila. In college it was Anita again along with Dimple(MLA college, malleswaram). In degree days it was Asha ( I am still in touch with her), Padmini, Anita, Vidya, Nirmala and Jayalakshmi(all in BMS college, Bangalore) and now friends at work, near home and blogger friends like SSStoryteller, Preethi shenoy and others.

The above were all part of my school/college life, but one friend whom I cherish and still nourish is Shamira Rai( shammi) who was 2 years my junior and is my friend since the age of 10. She was my neighbor and we lived in adjacent houses with just a 4ft compound wall separating the two buildings. Almost practically every day we have shared together till the age of 20. We have played pretend games, solved crossword, sang songs, had sleep overs , read story books, watched movies and all those normal things which two friends do.

As we grew older into teenagers playing games took a back seat and we were more into girlie talks, watching movies, TV and reading books.

Both of us were great fans of Amitabh and Anil kapoor and have never missed any of Anil’s intial day movies,including his first movie. ( incidentally Anil Kapoor’s first movie was a Kannada movie ‘Pallavi Anu pallavi’ made by Maniratnam). When ever Anil’s movie was released I & shammi would travel to Majestic(Bangalore) where most of the theatres are located to buy tickets. Our Parents were not interested in Anil’s movies and so we were escorted by our neighbor aunties who used to come to the theatre after their half a day work(usually it was on a Saturday since they worked in Karnataka high court and the other was with the Bangalore transport). Simple togetherness like discussing, reviewing the movie and TV shows like Humlog ,Buniyaad,cricket etc., going to the corner shop around the bend of the road gave us joy and we had great fun.

We both studied in different colleges and so it became almost mandatory for us to reach out and talk across the compound wall for atleast one hour about all the happenings of our college & friends. Our neighbours wondered what we were talking about always. We both had sisters who were of the same age ( 6 years younger) and these two girls would always hang around us to find out our talks. These talks were theraupetic and helped us de-stress.

Temperamentally we were different, but our thoughts, likes and dislikes were so similar and we influenced each other. We have had arguments, disagreements but many a times we have compromised and convinced each other. We have also had angry moments, ego clashes and we had even stopped talking to each other for a month.

Our daily meetings discontinued when her father got transferred and her family shifted to Doddballapur, Shammi stayed back at her aunt’s place at a different location(Koramangala) to complete her college. But here again during every Christmas vacation we both boarded the bus from Bangalore and spent a week in Doddaballapur. So many nights and days were spent talking about our dreams, likes, dislikes , thoughts etc.,. We have also influenced each other so much that I have learnt her mother tongue Tulu and her culture and she has picked up my mother tongue tamil.

Simple pleasures have lasted our friendship thus long and I am still in touch with her and our friendship is 30 years old. She is now a high flier with an MNC , mother of two kids and lives in Bangalore. I too lead a busy life in secunderabad and now our priorities have changed. I don’t have to mail her, message her or talk over phone daily to her or wish her on a ‘made up’ occasion like friendship day. But I know we can count on each other and when we meet even after a year we feel as though we have met just yesterday. We recently met in Bangalore along with our sisters ( who live in different cities)and our kids on May 25th, and that quality time will suffice till we meet next time.

My namesake Asha Srikantaiah (now Dinesh) is another friend with whom I still nourish my friendship. She was my college mate and this friendship is 23 years old. Many a times during our conversation we travel back to our college times and recall the times spent playing hang man, word building on our college staircase, manipulating our electronic experiment readings ( we never got our meter readings right, but we had to give the right result to get goodmarks), practicing songs for our college shows and together as a gang with friends JK( Jayalakshmi) , Vidya we have rocked our college shows. We have sung many songs like careless whispers, ABBA and we even rewrote a popular song ‘ hurray, hurray it’s a holi holiday’ into a sports day song and sung in front of our sports day chief guest ex Indian wicket keeper SMH Kirmani. Many fun filled times and memories are still ever green, I could still go on and on. After our graduation She married and left to the US. She too is now a mother of two kids and owns a web school portal. Distance was never a matter in this friendship . She is visiting India this month and I hope to meet her.

As we grow older it is difficult to adjust and find friends who match our wavelength and we definitely need to try 100 friends to make that one special friend . I now have situational friends, friends for a reason or just for a season but I am still looking for that one ‘special friend’ with whom I can meet and share my daily thoughts.

Blogadda, I prefer the pringoo mug.(color of friendship)