Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring delights

The fragrant white and pink frangipanis, glorious red gulmohars, the lovely florescence of mango tree and neem trees, the newly born tender shoots and other unknown multihued fragrant blossoms, the sing-song of birds, the warm sunshine - all these 'spring delights' perks up my mood in this short and sweet spring season.(I notice them during my daily walk and hence have listed here)

What adds more vibrancy to the above is in this season we celebrate a series of festivals starting with holi, vasant panchami,Mahashivratri, Sri ramanavami, the regional new years like Ugadi, gudipadwa, bihu, tamizh puthandu, baisakhi, lohri, visu etc.,

Tasty neivedyam (food), colorful kolams( floral patterns) and thoranams( festoons) mark these festivals.

It is a tradition during festivals to tie a festoon made of fresh green mango leaves and adorn mango leaves in kalasam on auspicious occasions like festivals and weddings. (for tamil new year even neem leaves are used, mango leaves are used for aesthetics). These leaves help in keeping the surroundings clean and hygienic.

There is a strong scientific reasoning supporting this. A person with basic knowledge of science knows that green leaves absorb carbon-di-oxide and releases oxygen. So on occasions when there are a lot of people around ,one could end up cross- breathing. The air filled with carbon-di-oxide is lighter than the pure air, this gets purified immediately while passing through the festoon. Also it acts as pest controller since all insects gets attracted to the green leaves and are barred from entering into the house. (these days we use pest-o-flash and all sorts of chemical pest control).

Even today, in Indian villages the ash of burnt dry mango leaves are used as first aid for cuts and fresh wounds. It has the capacity to check the bleeding. Also it is scientifically established that the color green keeps the mind fresh even modern medicine prescribes greenery for a tired mind and soul. Same is the case with the plaintain plants put on either side of the entrances in wedding halls. In olden days, Weddings usually took place in open areas where there were many reptiles and lizards. The sap of the plaintain bark served as first aid and was used to check the poisonous bite of snakes.

Also most south Indian household apply turmeric on the threshold. Turmeric being an anti-septic and antibacterial checks the microscopic organisms from making their way into the house. If the green festoon does its job at the top, The yellow turmeric does its job below. These days of course many households don’t differentiate between house chappals and sandals worn outside. This acts as an open invitation to all the microorganisms into the house.

Wonder how many of us follow such practices? How many are still relevant today?

In these scientific and technologically advanced age, are these practices still relevant?

If they are, let us pass the baton of Indian cultural values to our future generations that has been designed, nurtured and cherished by our wise ancestors, lest they get drowned under the skilful marketing tactics of the west and the orient.

(will ETA photo of my fav frangipani)


  1. aaha idhula ivlo matter irukka...neenga oru village vingnyaani baaas

  2. Wonder how many of us follow such practices?... very valid question, and i think the reason behind majority of ppl not using these bcoz they are just not aware with these tradiotioal things which are so useful at times.... and i like the concluding para of ur post, yaa we do need to pass this baton to our future generation...

    BTW a request to u..... there r always couple of comments in Tamil script at ur posts, so plz do give a translaion of the comments u get here in Tamil at ur post.... hehe :)

  3. @gils- enna panrudhu pasanga kekkara kelvikku badhil solla vendirukkay, so konjam research pannen :)

    @ifran - thanks :) regarding the tamil script yes, there are certain comments best told in your mother tongue. will definitely comply to your request.

    here gils comment translates thus 'Is there so much of info in this matter... you are a village scientist'

    my reply to him in tamil reads thus 'what to do, when kids ask questions we need to do some research to answer'

  4. yes they are relevant and In our village still a lot of traditions are done.

    I did not know about the ash of mangoe tree .. thanks for that.


  5. Again a knowledgable post about the simple customs followed around us :-)

  6. hahah true...neenga oru village vingnyaani baaas

  7. Yes Asha, it is so true , and these all have scientific meaning behind them, there are not just old wives tales as some might assume.

  8. @bikram- when we lead a slow life like in villages it is easy to follow these practices, but with a busy city life we try to prioritise these practices.

    @anu - :)

    @ramesh - vignyani is too big a compliment, anyway thanks :)

    @rama - I like to find the hidden meaning behind all our practices. Like you i too believe there is a lot of native wisdom behind all these practices.