Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pangunip pongal – The shops

Murugeswari akka is waiting for me. I am negotiating my pocket money from my mother. “how much do you want”, “amma give me more” "don’t buy anything else. Buy just bangles and comeback. Murugeswari, just get her bangles and come back ok?” “OK chithi”, my mother is chithi for her. We are going to the bangle shop. There are several shops in our town during this time. During Therth thirivila (chariot festival), whole town becomes one big shopping mall. People from all the villages around our area come to our town. During pangunip pongal also people from other towns and villages come here, but it is mostly people who have relatives in kombai. But, shops are the same regular ones. Some shops might crop up just during the pongal days, but it is not like therth thiruvila. Whatever new shop comes, we always go to our valavikkadai (bangle shop). But there are many sweet stalls we get. They sell kalar payasam (coloured kheer), and sorbet. I don’t like the taste of sorbet. Many like it. Kalar payasam is my favourite, though the taste is not that good, it just gives the festive mood. But all those shops will come just for the pongal days, not yet. We are going to valavikkadai today. All the locals finish our shopping before the pongal days to save ourselves from the village crowd who will be shopping during the pongal days. Also, we can wear valavi when I put on my new clothes in the morning itself. So we are going to the valavikkadai today.

We reach our valavikkadai after a few stops by some of our relatives, “where are you going latha”, “aren’t you pachchayee’s daughter, Murugeswari”, “There is no school today, where are you going? Does your mother know you are going? Do you have money to buy valavi?” all sorts of questions..

Naduththeru (centre street) is very crowded today. Every one in town seems to be in the naduththeru. Some are in tailors’ shops. Some are still buying clothes. There are few pattarai (gold smiths), where people are ordering new gold ornaments. Some are in valavikkadais (bangle shop, where all the girls’ accessories are sold). Some are negotiating the prices; well everyone is negotiating the price of everything there. That girl standing with her mother in the goldsmith’s shop looks very happy. She is getting something new it looks. Happiness on her face is heaven. I will wear my jimikky (a type of ear ring) too. This time of the year you can really count, er, weigh the amount of gold reserve available in every household. Particularly if there is a girl in marriage-able age in that house, she will be wearing “all” gold ornaments. I like the head/hair decoration using flowers during pongal days, which is very special. It is bridal style decoration. Girls love it. All girls get to rehearse in this hair-do before their marriage, during these pongal days. Also it makes sense as they all will be getting married in the following months; surprised? It is not rocket science. They get noticed during these pongal days don’t they? Particularly when all the eligible bachelors in town are doing no any work, other than following these girls, in the name of “volunteering” in the temple. It is not their (girls) maargali prayer, but their pangunippongal hair-do gets them their men, if you ask me.

Nadutheru is generally a busy street, but is packed with people today. Songs from loudspeakers come so loud and mixed, I can’t really figure out what song is being played in which temple. People are either negotiating with the shop-keepers, or talking to their acquaintances/friends/relatives. Some are standing in the middle of the roads. Children are playing as well, but their mothers are shouting at them to come back, in order to keep them safe and not lost. Buses do not come through this street, as this is the shopping street. But still some motor bikes and cycles come through this street. Occasionally some bullock carts come too. Generally they do not need to come through this street, as the fields are outside the town and farm owners houses are not in this street. Also, bullock carts leave in the morning and come back in the evening only.

We have reached our valavikkadai. We live in the north street, and it is just the cross lane to Nadutheru (centre street), where the valavikkadai is there. There are few other valavikkadai as well, but we always go to our regular valavikkadai. The shop owner knows my family and he knows our liking disliking very well. I like going there. I go there sometimes on the way to school as well, just to talk to him.

Valavikkadaikkar (the shop keeper) recognises us. “Vaanga (please come)”, and smiles. There are already three groups of girls examining few designs and checking if they suit them. "Valavikkadaikaarare, is there any new design for this season?” Murugeswari akka asks. He shows us the new designs. Some of them aren’t that great. I don’t fancy too gittery type. I ask for less glittery bangles. He shows me few other designs, but tells me that they are less pricy. “I know you school going girls are very decent and do not like all these too glittery ones. It is for those village girls who will be coming for the festival. But, if you would listen to me, I will say, it suits you. You are maaniram (not so dark skinned) and this golden colour enhances your colour. It doesn’t look too glittery on your hands. It might look too contrastingly glittery on a dark skinned girl's hand, but it suits you very well. Also, do you not want something different for this festival?” "She doesn’t wear bangles valavikkadaikkarare. She says that bangles interfere when she writes, also they make too much noise in the class she says”. "That is when you go to school. You can always take them off, but wear just two in each hand, you shouldn’t wear one, as oththappadai is not good you see" (wearing one bangle will bring bad luck). "Valvikkadaikkarare, even two bangles are enough to make noise and even one is enough to interfere while writing...” “I can never understand you girl.” He laughs. "There are some new designs in ear rings, would you like to see?” He knows my likings for ear rings. "No. no. her mother has strictly told me to get her bangles and nothing else". Murugeswari akka says. “I will talk to mother, show me those ear rings valavikkadaikkarare”. He goes inside. The other groups have finished their selection by now. A few new groups have come and are waiting for valavikkadaikkarar. “he has gone inside to bring some ear rings”. "Are there new designs in ear rings too?” one of the girls in one of the new groups asks. “Oh yes”, I reply. She is all excited and looking forward to buy a set pf new ear ring. Valavikkadaikkarar continues his sales with this new groups of girls.

“Why did you buy the ear ring? Your skin is allergic to metals other than gold, don’t you know”? Mother has started her questions. Murugeswari akka is answering them; I go straight to my little mirror, to see my ear rings on me.
PS: needs rewriting.

19 comments:

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

The Announcement, The preparation and I cant wait for the festivel :)
The men who have shops selling these girl's accessories are very good at marketing. And have you come across those men who bring bangles to every household for sales? They have their bangles in a big wooden box and carry them on their head . I wonder if such things exist still in our place.

//They get noticed during this pongal days don’t they?//
I have seen girls in "display" in Virudhunagar during such festive occasions with jewels from head to toe (no no no I was not a "volunteer". I was just a kid then hehehehe). I think most girls must have found it embarrassing.

Premalatha said...

And have you come across those men who bring bangles to every household for sales?

that is the next posting :D

Premalatha said...

I have seen girls in "display" in Virudhunagar

some societies develop some customs and traditions to get their girls married. it was this pangunip pongal festival for a group of people and maargali prayer in the name of religion in some other group. objective is the same.

girls are well dressed, everyone is in happy mood, eligible bachelors are given a chance to see the girls. both the parties have nothing any serious thing to do, everything around them is happy happy etc...

in maargali prayer season, they get to flirt as well, whereas in my area, as girls do not talk to boys, and maargaali prayer doesn't work. not only that, bachelors do not go to maargali prayer, as it is a farming community and young men are engaged in farming activity during that time. pangunipongal is the festival time, and marriage-fixing time. parents have to make most of it.

Girls are happy to wear "all" gold. I don't thing they felt/feel embarassed. girls like gold. :D

as I said before, every society/group has its own way of doing things.

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

//as I said before, every society/group has its own way of doing things//

True. Perhaps it is a age old custom that still goes on :) I just quoted Virudhunagar as I have been there for few years and also have quite a few relatives around that region...

Premalatha said...

True. Perhaps it is a age old custom that still goes on :)

In Africa men try to attract girls and they give dowry to girls. how nice!. except that it is cows you get as dowry, nah:(
lol.

ammani said...

Lovely. The din of the crowds gathered in nadutheru, the colours, the heady smells and the feverish excitement before the thiruvizha...I could sense it all.

'It is not their (girls) maargali prayer, but their pangunippongal hair-do gets them their men, if you ask me.' LOL!

Premalatha said...

Hi Ammani,

Thanks for dropping by. Thanks for your comments. I will be writing about the festival itself, so, please do come back. :)

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Please don't rewrite your post. I think it's lovely as it is. I always get the feeling that you're thoughts flow through your pen unfettered.

Premalatha said...

Please don't rewrite your post. I think it's lovely as it is. I always get the feeling that you're thoughts flow through your pen unfettered.


WOW. What a compliment to get. you have made my day. Thanks. :-)

டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

//In Africa men try to attract girls and they give dowry to girls//
The chinese do that too. The bridegroom gives jewels to the mom-in-law and seeks the hand of the bride. :)

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Glad I made your day! :)

மதி கந்தசாமி (Mathy) said...

Premalatha,

you should compile all these posts and publish them. This is like R.K.Narayan. Kombai is my 'Malgudi'. I love this particular post. Felt like a fly in the wall. Could even smell the 'sorbet' and 'color payasam'.

btw, is this the rewritten version or the original. If it's the original, i would just leave it as it is..

-Mathy

Premalatha said...

Hi Mathy,

Very very flattering comment.

R.K.Narayan. that is OTT, imho. (that is a bit over the top in my humble opinion. lol.), but thank you. :-)


you should compile all these posts and publish them.


that is again lil too much, but, yes, I would love to do that one day. that is why I keep writing that PSs whenever I feel that I should write it better if I want to compile them, (in my computer) and print it out (if that can be called as "publishing").

I love this particular post. Felt like a fly in the wall. Could even smell the 'sorbet' and 'color payasam'.


thanks. Actually I am preparing myself to get into the flow, track, etc, for the big day of the pangunipongal itsel. I want that post to be really perfect with all the detail I can put in and I want that to have a good flow so that it doesn't look like a bulletted sentences with detail. So, I am slowly training myself, if I may say, for the big day (big post). :-)



btw, is this the rewritten version or the original. If it's the original, i would just leave it as it is..

this is original. Thanks for that comment as well. As few of you have said that, I shall leave it as it is. :-)

Balaji S Rajan said...

Nice post. Quite interesting and waiting for the next post. Descriptions took me to the spot. Keep it up.

Guitar Master said...

I wish I could blog as good as you, but what I can do is give you a nice Guitar Lesson!

phantom363 said...

yes, nosey relatives appear to be common phenomenon all over. we had one living a few houses away. on many an occassion, we used to go around in a roundabout way to avoid just going past their house. someone was always on the street door, and there will be a few minutes of 'interrogation'. :)

we have a nadu theru in chennai. i had a relative who lived there and she was a constant butt of jokes, as we all know what 'nadu theru'lley thaan irukkaa' means. literally bankrupt. just for that reason alone, she moved to another house.

ah, skin colour. so much of an obsession for us. thank goodness beauty is only skin deep. :)

the concept of girls on display is much nicer than the practice in the cities of 'penn paarkal', where the poor girl is alone, all dolled up, and be leered at by some goon and his relatives. really humiliating. i feel sorry for those girls .. even though my marriage was initiated the same way. but i saw only one girl. :) some guys i know have seen over 30, and made a regular entertainment out of it. it is time we have it the other way around.. pillai paarkal :)

Premalatha said...

yes, nosey relatives appear to be common phenomenon all over.

Where does this appear in the post (I will have to read it again. :) )

but i saw only one girl. :)
I know many men take pride in that (nope not meaning anything bad about you there. :) ), but I do not like that idea or i do not agree with that idea or whatever is the better word for that. Chosing a life partner is a very important thing. First of all, you are not giving its due respect, secondly you haven't considered anything about the other person involved. that is a huge mistake i would never be able to forgive or accept. :D
(Hope you get my smilie there. )

Premalatha said...

And about the name "Naduththeru", street names in our village are like that. Naduththeru, kilakkuththeru, merkuththeru, vadakkuththeru, therkuththeru. but no, they are not the only streets, but others have different name. There is aranmanaiththeru as well. all other streets and lanes (street is a main road and there are lanes (sandhu), which are equivalant to streets in UK. Each street (in my village) is an area.
And, no, they are not the only areas, there are few other areas with modern(?!!) names. But, it gives an idea that which ones are really older (historic?) area and that kind of information. Kombai is really one of the ancient settlements. Many don't realise it. But it has some anthropoligical importance, which I can go on and on (as it is my fav. topic of discussion) and bore you to death.
:)
(I read a lot about caste/religion in terms of social anthropology. :) I like to discuss as well. but people are ridiculously senti in these areas. :( )

Anonymous said...

Premalatha,

Your posts are very compelling. I remember them a long time after I finish reading them.
Maybe it is also mixed with my memories while I was growing up.

Why aren't you writing any more?
mona