An unknown joy consumes me whenever I pass through or hear the name of the town Mayavaram (now called Mayiladuthurai) in Southern Tamilnadu. And when I recently passed through this small town on the banks of River Cauvery, the joy surfed up again. The reason for the joy - this is the ancestral town of my father.
Edakkudi , 3 kms from Mayavaram literally belonged to my father’s ancestors. The village belonged to the descendents of one person. Slowly mobility and opportunities disintegrated this villagers in agraharams to different parts of the world and my Great grandfather moved to Trichy to join the police service and my own grandfather’s engineering ambition moved him to Bangalore and slowly we disconnected from our roots . Now, when I pass through that town it gives me some unexplainable joy.
Mobility in communication and transportation has uprooted us from our roots and provided us with individual freedom and more global opportunities. Today most of us are geographically scattered from our roots. This disintegrated the joint family system in the past and gave rise to nuclear family. Today even this has disintegrated further with members of the same family (husband and wife) working at different locations. With the world growing materialistic and individualistic today long distance families has become the norm. With education and work obligations stationing them at different places, today’s children and siblings study or are employed elsewhere away from home.
Most of us slowly adapt ourselves to the new environment, culture and language gradually losing ties with our roots , family and community . Today we have an aunt, sibling or any relative for that matter in some far away piece of land. At times of crisis or happiness we don’t emotionally bond, you do not have that brother or sister relative to share your joys or sorrows with their physical presence. ( it is not possible to meet frequently)
When elders in the family insist on attending family functions, visiting family deity, ancestral deity and observing traditions and rituals, most of us dismiss them with excuses citing professional and domestic obligations. The pressures of the competitive life and professional necessities leaves no opportunity to attend many family functions or temples. There is a great demand on our time and energy. Many a times we find ourselves being pushed and pulled in all directions due to the rat race.
Now, I feel these functions, rituals and traditions or temple visits were designed to bind the family together and keep us connected to our roots . These getogethers or functions show us how as relatives we are interdependent, help each other and bond over food, customs and traditions and helps foster a sense of oneness and security. Like they say ‘The family that eats together stays together’. The physical communication , face to face conversations help us to make good memories. Perhaps these help us to maintain sanity in this world where there are many stressors. When we do feel low these memories act as a destressor and warms up our heart. These relationships are like those comforters of security at times of crisis be it health, monetary or some other emergency or simply the thought you have somebody to lean your shoulder on peps you up and helps face the world with more strength.
Of course. arguing that we are connected through technological network is fine, but that is mostly thorough virtual communication, texting and using emoticons and not genuine emotions. As a part of evolution, may be we would lose our emotional quotient and become more like a robot if we did this often.
I experienced this emotional bonding when we recently conducted a family function (my son’s thread ceremony) by observing traditions and rituals. The family ties were strengthened when relatives from many places gathered together. It was a joy to see the gennext bond and exchange their contacts. We were glad we heeded our elder’s advice and choose a traditional ceremony close to our roots at Neyveli over a convention hall affair in Hyderabad.
A new temple at Govindapuram enroute Mayavaram