Proud to be an Indiblogger

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

pongal times



Mylapore in Madras (todays Chennai ) in the month of January is very  pleasant specially in the early mornings .
The cool winds from the sea would blow through the narrow streets as the city woke up .
The morning  would begin with the milkmen herding thier buffaloes , prodding them to move on ,housewives would wait with thier steel vessels in front of thier houses for the fresh milk  .
The milkman would sqat with a vessel cylindrical and long precariously balnaced between his knees as he milked his cow in front of each of his customer ,fresh milk would squirt in and fill it with foam
the bottoms of these milk vessels were a mystery ,dark tales ran around that they had false bottoms and all it needed was an expert swish to get a right mix of adulterated milk ,
nothing would escape the deep scrutiny of the housewife well versed with such possibilites ,
most  would make a standard comment to the milkman "I hope you are still mixing water to milk and not the other way round "and he would laughingly answer "getting good water in madras is more difficult amma ".
The mornings were the haunt of these animals ,huge buffaloes ,brown cows ,and horny bulls all littering thier offerings of solid and liquid waste into the streets and making it an obstacle course for the morning walker
In this month in tamil Marghazi children would wake up in the dawn have a bath and walk to nearby temples where scripture recitation followed by eats was the attraction ..
The milkmen themselves were a tribe apart ,they wore lungis or colourful striped shorts and had guttaral voices resembling thier keeps .
Thier work would end by late morning and then they would catch up on thier sleep only to begin again by 3pm in the evening ,dusk would see them in the local arrack shops downing concotions that would give them dreamless sleeps in thier feline companies





one does remeber naan thaanda paalkaran song  of Rajinikanth fame but many of the milkmen I remember werent so glamourous and were uncouth fellows ,
One of them I still recollect was a great help on the sad day when my father passed away .in fact we had seen him only as a ruffian but he always had great respect for my father and the moment he heard of his passing away he rushed home and offered any help brought a big garland etc he was there the whole night waiting to do errands for us
they were simple folks who worked hard and enjoyed thier lives with no prejudices .
the day they looked forward to every year was mattupongal ,it was their day and their buffaloes and cows day , they would dress up like rich men  with golden jubbas ornamenting thier protuberant pot bellies ,gold chains glittering in thier chest, thier red lips and tongue filled with pan and thier rotten black teeth winking in between as they guffawed and gesticulated with abandon  .
their cows and buffaloes would be adorned  with lighted incence sticks jutting off thier painted horns ,like brides they would have thier eyebrows painted ,huge bindhis and tilaks on thier forheads ,jasmine and kanakambaram garlands would adorn thier necks ,and satin and silk sarees on thier backs ,they would have tingling anklets and huge bells around thier necks which would announce thier arrival .





By dusk  the procession would begin with each cow surrounded by its proud owner and his family ,urchins who would shout pongalopongal mattupaongal and they would come to the houses where they give milk ,the houseowners would be ready with lot of plantains ,pongal and other delicacies ,they would light a lamp and show arathi to the cows and the milkman would be at his grinning best ,all the sarcasm of the houselady would be kept on bay this day as she would sincerly wish the milkman and his cow .






how nice our traditions are ?
we worship the animal that gives us succour
we respect and reward the worker for his efforts once a year and he too take a pride in his job ,
isnt this the real communism ?
not the militant attitude and complexes of the present times



the night would end in the milkman spending his rewards in his favourite haunts as he looked forwards to another year and the next mattupongal.

pongalopongal










4 comments:

Flyaway Mind said...

wonderfully detailed description :)
made a great read..happy pongal

Sadasiv Swain said...

Mattupongal & pongal greetings Hari. Best wishes on this auspicious day. Swain

Anonymous said...

quite interesting read. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

harimohan said...

tks but iam yet to twit

Blog Archive