Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pangunip pongal - Mulappaari

Part6-Maavilakku-2 Part5-Maavilakku-1 Part3-The games Part2-The Shops Part1-The Announcement

I like watching servaar thaththa taking karakam. No, no, it is not the karakam you think. Karakam is the one that leads mulappaari, maavilakku or any such procession for that matter. It is like a small ther (chariot) without the pulling things, carried on head. Kudam (a type of pot used to carry water from well/river), with a full coconut kept/tied on the mouth of the kudam, decorated lavishly using jasmine flowers. Jasmine flower decoration covers the kudam completely that you cannot see the kudam at all. some stickes are tied and covered with jasmine as well. It is so beautiful. Only jasmine is allowed to be used in a karakam that leads mulappaari or maavilakku. The other karakam you know is different, the one that entertains, doesn’t it? (We will have that tonight for entertainment.) Servaar thaththa family is the only family entitled to carry karakam. After thatha’s time, Dayalan maama will carry karakam. But I don’t know how it will suit Dayalan maama. For me Karakam means it is always servaar thaththa. I can’t imagine anybodylese carrying karakam.

Mulappaari is a bunch of millet plants of nine varieties, sown in a bamboo baskets/pots, and grown for a month in a dark room (that’s why they are pale yellowish) in our temple. They sow it in the beginning of the panguni month. Girls who will be carrying the mulappaari pots identify their pots once it is sown. They water their pots every day. Some people prefer to sow themselves but, temple also prepares some pots for people who might want to join at the last minute. Puussari (the priest) waters those pots. Whether it is temple pot or privately sown, it has to kept in the temple. Today girls go to temple to collect these pots and carry them on their heads and wait in a line there. Kottu from the temple comes to servaar thaaththa’s house to invite him to lead the procession. Thaththa does a puusai in his house. The puusari from temple holds the karakam in his hands and waits for him. Thaaththa gets saami and starts shaking (he is supposed to. I always wondered what will he do if he didn’t get saami one day, will he just shake still?). He comes out of his house. Puusaari gives karakam to him and places it on his head. Thaaththa takes it by kneeling down. Kottu goes faster to mark the moment. Then they walk. We all go following him. Mulappaari girls waiting in a line join him when he reaches the temple. It is generally a dull procession compared to maavilakku. First of all this is started around 3pm and finished (the plant pots are disposed in the temple pond) before the sunset. No any entertaining things in front of the procession. There is no any fun watching the plants being carried by these girls on their heads. I don’t know why girls go excited to carry these plants. They always do. They always go crazy when they go to choose their pots when it is sown. They go very excited when they carry this on their heads. May be it is the procession thing that excites them. The whole town comes to watch them carrying these plant pots. They get to flaunt their new clothes. In maavilakku procession, as it is done after the sunset, your clothes are not that noticeable. Glowing maavilakku attracts everyone’s eyes makes you and your new clothe even less noticeable. But, it (maavilakku) is still my favourite. I will have to wait until tomorrow to carry my maavilaaku. Yes, I am going to carry one this year. Either mulappaari or maavilakku, if you want to carry, you should do so for a three consecutive years. You cannot break it. If you do, you have to start again and complete the three years. You have to pray that nothing bad happens in your house during these three years. For example if anyone dies in any of your immediate relative family, you should not participate in any of the temple activities for a one whole year. That will forbid you from carrying a mulappaari or maavilakku in that year. Your continuity will be broken that year. You have to start again and do for next three years, and again you have to pray nothing goes wrong… kind of vicious cycle, ha. Good for the temple. They will get a good turn up every year. Not that they do not get volunteers, but this kind of rule keeps the people turning up by default. There, thaththa has come out of his poosai. I have to go. I love watching him take karakam. Thaaththa takes the karakam. Kottu is going faster. It does give me a shiver, that fast kottu. It marks the moment. The karakam has started. The mulappaari has started. This marks the starting of the pangunipongal officially. Close your eyes. Hold your palms together, bring them in front your face. Pray.


டி ராஜ்/ DRaj said...

//But, it (maavilakku) is still my favourite//
Exactly what I used to think :) But havent seen all these fun for years together :(

//Thaaththa gets saami and starts shaking//
This saami thing has puzzled me often. I think some people simply pretend to get saami. At the same time , I have seen some girls of age 6-10 getting saami on them (our kula deivam itself is in the form of an young gal). When I see these gals, am confused. Perhaps they dont lie...

I thought those lines with which you ended the post was wonderfully written :) I almost felt the urge to bring my palms together and pray. :)

Premalatha said...

But havent seen all these fun for years together :(

me too.:(

When I see these gals, am confused. Perhaps they dont lie...

I am an atheist.

I almost felt the urge to bring my palms together and pray. :)

but you didn't, did you? :-)

vikram kombai said...

hi prema....
i m vikram chakravarthy from kombai.......i love our native place sooooo much..but i m missing it now.ur blogs brought my memories childhood.
i like ranganathar temple and markalli month morning poja's.....(with teen age gals in
half saree),annaimedu,thirthathutti falls,pannaipuram road and our temple car(therru) function. i cant forget KOMBAI in my life whereever i go.....

Premalatha said...


enna vayasu?

why your url is not working?

senthil said...


Happy Birthday


senthil said...


waiting for third day of the Panguni pongal.
my favourites manchal thanni, the karakattam, kambu (chilambu) suthurathu etc.

phantom363 said...


how is this karakam different? why is dayalan mama 'unsuitable' for karakam? if not he, who is next?

getting saami is always fascinating. in chennai you usually find this in the ayyappa crowd. then they rub viboodhi all over the body till it subsides. :)

so much communal activity. so rich in culture and experience. good for you. :)