Ruminations of an OctogenarianToday Mr. G.Easwaran goes down memory lane and takes us on a tour of the vessels that used to used in earlier days.  It is interesting to see how much we have advanced technologically but the nostalgia of those days is really worth reading.

This is only nostalgia and does not purport going back to the old days but basically to keep the younger generation who might have heard of these but not seen. There was a time when almost all families had household items as heirlooms or as dowry for daily use in Bronze, Brass and Copper items like Kuthu Vilakku in different sizes,Kaarthi Vilakkus,Vilakku on elephant  (Lamps on Elephants) Chembu (Brass pots ) Paanai,( pots) Iyya  Chombu, ( vessel out of Iyyam)  Arikkanchatty,( huge tub made out of a special metal) Adukku, Kooja,(water jug) Kindi, Tarpanavattai, Vengalapaanai,(brass open English: Kindi, a vessel made of bronze used i...mouthed vessel) Kudam (steel pot) etc.,which were polished daily with Puli(tamarind) and Chaambal(ash) by non-brahmin maid servants,including puja items.

There were items like Kal Chatty, ( mud pot) Iyya    Chombu, Ammi,( a stone for grinding)  Aattukkal,(stone with a hollow with a smaller stone for grinding paste of rice etc)  Ezhundaram, (a stone grinder for dry powder) Cheravai, ( coconut scraper ) Aruvamanai (a device to cut vegetables and grind coconut)  as also Omakkuzhal,Adapalakai etc. The   advent of Stainless Steel hastened the change over and preference was for stainless steel items.Reluctance of domestic servants to clean brass etc., items also added to the change over. There were door to door vendors who gave the items against clothes. The vendor’s choice was clothes with jarikai. Majority of the vendors were from North India and they used to melt the jarikai which contained silver and at times gold and sell. However introduction of payment in instalments made the vendors seek other avenues. Many a girl would have melted away an Iyya Chombu while learning to cook at a young age.

For cooking purposes an aduppu (oven) made with Ishtika, (red bricks) rectangular in shape with a large circular opening on right as the aduppu (stove) is faced and a small circular opening on the left, with semicircular opening/s at the bottom for feeding firewood. For firewood, cut pieces of dry wood, dry coconut leaves, coconut dry shells were used. In addition there was Kummatti,a portable aduppu, cylindrical in shape in which charcoal or saw dust was used as firewood. Later on kerosene stoves with wicks came into use.

Before lighting the firewood and keeping the first vessel on the aduppu ladies of the house used to spread cow dung mixed with water on the aduppu and put vertical lines with arisippodi on the aduppu. Ladies of the house used to have a bath early in the morning, tie a Torthu ( white towel in Kerala ) on the head, apply kumkumam ( vermillion) on the forehead,and light the lamps in front of the puja idols. They used to sprinkle cow dung mixed water in front of the house and put arisippodi kolams.Kolams (decorative designs) were put with mathematical precision,circle,square,straight/vertical lines triangles etc.The kolams were not only a decoration but food for ants and insects.

The ladies were adepts in the use of aruvamanai to cut vegetables,peel off seeds from Puli etc.,without keeping their eyes on the sharp metallic edge of the aruvamanai while continuing a conversation.

Aruvamanai (Photo credit: Technofreak)

Items like Seva Naazhi, (rice noodles maker) adapalakai,idli patra may have become antiques now along with ezhundaram,coffee seed grinder, aattukkal and ammi. Vadaam (Rice Papad) used to be spread evenly on Plaasa elai ( leaf of a Plaasa tree) and after steaming out was spread to dry out in the sun. Similarly Karuvadaam (South Indian Rice Fries) with a Naaazhi ( a machine to make the fries) . Duty of the kids in the house was to ward off birds while the items were in the sun.

Putting kadugu maangaai was an elaborate ritual. Home made kadugu maangai vanished with the advent of 777, thangam pickles, MTR etc. came up. The every day cry of kallu kothanundo, iyyam poosapoosan ndo is no longer there. However the knife sharpener with his grinding wheel still seems  with his grinding wheel (motorised?) still seems to be there.

At my age tough to adjust to gadgets.!!


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