Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I like Maargali. The water was very cold. I like cold hair. I like early morning. Fresh. It smells all jasmine when you go near any girl, particularly in Maargali, as they all wear jasmine. I don’t wear flowers. I don’t like. I feel uncomfortable when they go dying and dry. They look sad. I do like them when they are fresh. But I don’t know when is the right time to take it off so that they never go sad. Fresh cold hair, fresh jasmine, and early morning kombai street to temple are nice.

We, we means myself and Senthil, go to all temples in the morning. People say that the prayers and celebrations are relevant only to girls who are looking to get married in the near future. They go to temple and pray to God that their marriage happens soon and good. It is not relevant for us. But many children like us and men also go to temples. So we are also going. Father decided to send us to the temple so that we both will get the habit of getting up early in the morning. But, in his dictionary, early morning means 4am. I hate to wake up that early. But, since when we have started going to temples, I like it. We collect prasatham (food offered to God in the prayer ritual and then distributed to the worshippers) from several temples. We get sarkkaraip pongal (rice pudding) as prasatham in some temples, and in some other temples it is sundal (chick pea with desiccated coconut). It is not about the pongal or sundal, it is about me and him going together. He doesn’t come to me or with me like this otherwise. It feels nice seeing him coming to me as if I can take care of him.

Senthil also finished washing body and is ready. We both depart. We have a route. First we go to our temple first and then we go to chettiyar temple. Then we go to subramaniyar temple and we finish our day in kaamatchi amman temple. By now we know the prasatham time for all temples we visit. We don’t go to all temples in Kombai. We have to be home by 7am so that we can get ready and go to school. Senthil goes to collect his share of prasatham. “Akka, it is hot, it is hot”, he comes towards me running. I take prastham from him, and look at his palm. It is red. “Didn’t I tell you to keep that banana leaf? Where did you throw, look you are hurt now”. He did not even care. He is back to the crowd again. I look for banana leave and rush to him. “Take it, take it”. I shout”. He takes it. I watch him get more prasatham. He comes and stores it with me and goes back again. “Enough, Senthil, come, let us go”. We have finished for today. Mother asks us, “happy?” “Yes”, a big nod from me. Yes, we, brother and sister collecting prasatham together, are indeed happy. :-)
PS: Not very well written in my opinion. I wanted to write more on Maargali. also, wanted to mix the emotion along with the information on maargali poojais and jasmine fragrance through my eyes. It looks that the emotion stands out oddly without mixing with the rest of the text. I will rewrite this sometime later. But for now, this is what I could write sitting in office during a tea break. Bear with me please.


Shruthi said...

Nicely written, in spite of your P.S. :) I liked the way you wrote in short, simple sentences, like a little girl. Even without knowing anything, you can guess that it is supposed to be narrated by a young girl, and is not a defect in your writing :D ... And I related to the little girl's views on jasmine - I love fresh jasmine too, but I detest it when its gone dry!

neha vish said...

Actually jasmine is eroticized so much in Tamizh culture that I am surprised it is allowed at all in temples! ;)

So many oblique references to jasmine and "first night" and "poo malarardu" and what not!

Yeah.. jasmine that has dried out .. like brown flakes.. irritating.. and remarkably difficult to sweep out.

Premalatha said...

Hi shruti,

Narration by an young girl through her eyes is the theme of this blog. please read other posts as well. some of them have come out better, to my surprise.

Premalatha said...

Hi Neha,

Jasmine is very much used in temples. I am sure you know madurai around area is famous for jasmine production. Girls in my area wear jasmine everyday. it is as normal as that. I don't think the "first night" thing is like how it is showed in cinemas. Also, men do not bring jasmine to wifes in villages, as the poovala comes to every house and sells flower to wives themselves. also, girls knitting (?) jasmine is a wonderful sight in the evenings. I have learnt too. it is just the cinema that has exaggrated the part of jasmine. But, the fragrance does play a part in seduction, same as perfume in the western world.

sudha said...

wonder if there is something similar to maargazhi in any other culture/place. latha, cool post :). i ended up listening to MLV's rendition of thoomani maadathu from thirupaavai. divya prabandham as a whole is a masterpiece. and of course there's nothing like walking into a garden filled with jasmine early in the morning. am not even going to attempt growing jasmine here - it just wouldnt be the same.

p.s. would you want to use the word "tie" instead of "knit"? .. cant think of any other appropriate word for that.

Murali said...

Hi !
Though i have read some of your other posts too, this is the first time i'm commenting.

I really enjoyed reading this piece, not withstanding the abrupt end.

Regarding Jasmine, well, i wont buy the idea that it is eroticised. Rather, may be, it is ROMANTICISED.

Hope to

neha vish said...

Premalatha: I meant that in a very irreverant tone. I am used to wearing jasmine even though I grew up in Delhi. And happen to love the scent. And am used to women around me wearing it.. But the element of "eroticism" cannot be missed. Or maybe that's just me. :)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

The thought of those fresh mornings in which the loud speakers would be blasting away devotional songs and "Thiruvilaiyadal" or "Saraswathi Sabadham" dialogues, women trying out new kolams every day and prashadams make me feel like make a time travel to the past. :)

Premalatha said...

Hi Neha,

I understood that, but i thought may be because you grew up in north India. I used to live in Dehradun, where people told me straight to my face, wearing flowers is related to prostitutes! if not to that level in Tam dominated delhi, there must have been some pollution of meaning must have been there regarding wearing flowers.

Hi sudha,

yes, i don't what would be the right word equilent to thoduththal. in my home town, we do say, kattuthal, which goes well with the translation tieing, but, i thought that pinnuthal is better description (technically), as that is what we do, and tried to translate from there. I think tieing is better. thanks.

thiruppaavai is a must during this season.

Hi Murali,

Thanks for commenting and reading (shy silently? could comemnt any time anything you like :-))

does it look abrupt? I will remember this when I rewrite it.

Hi Draj,

How could I forget loudspeakers. They made me remember almost all songs of that time. I can sing those songs without missing single word! I will remember this as well when I rewrite. I actually wrote little about Jemini's maathangalil aval maargazhi, but didn't go well with the flow of the text so I didn't include that part.

Dinesh said...

Good read!

Premalatha said...

Hi Dinesh,

Welcome here. I am glad you liked it.


Vivified Visage said...

I thought it was nicely written, too. I'm an NRI, and it's great to read other Indian blogs. I've been to the Kamachi temple--gorgeous. I'm South Indian too, btw.

Found your blog through other blogs. =)

Balaji S Rajan said...

I enjoyed thoroughly your descriptions about visiting temples in Margazhi. No wonder Senthil wants to see you even when he has just 3 hours transit time in London.

Premalatha said...

Hi Bliss,

welcome. A quick look at your blog looks i need to spend more there. :-) Hope you will like readeing my other posts too.

I haven't been to Kanchi temple, if you mean that. I should. I will try next time when I go home.

Hi Balaji,

My brother actually hates me. :-)