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Busy Summer Those Days!!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by jayasala42, Apr 1, 2022.

  1. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Among the various activities on Sivarathri night,
    I remember the making of Vibhuthi for the whole year as
    an important ritual. On the days preceding Sivarathri, our
    maid would make small balls out of cow dung, called muttan,
    On the evening of Sivarathri,
    after bath we would clean a small area and we
    would make a small kolam there. we would then stack
    all the dried cow dung balls there and throw on some umi
    (chaff from paddy). My amma would then light the chaff
    and the cowdung balls would gradually smoulder and burn
    out completely over the next couple of days.The beauty of it
    is that once the fire is burnt out, the balls of dung could
    be extracted in its original shape, as balls of ash.
    This ash was then collected and stored to be used as
    Vibhuthi for the next year.
    Vibhuthi is the sacred ash smeared on the foreheads of Saivites.

    This reminds us of the all encompassing truth
    that ash is what remains after everything is burnt
    away and ash is imperishable. . The whole community was a
    large spiritual kendra where one learnt the simple truths
    on one’s own or as advised to.

    Next activity was Karuvadaam making.
    Early morning at 4 A. M. Amma used to prepare vadaam batter.,
    a nice pasty substance with salt,chilies and asafoetida
    [​IMG]The cooked batter will have a shiny surface when done.

    We spread a or clean cloth,mostly Appa's Veshti,on a flat surface
    where there is good sunlight and press the cooked batter
    through a Muthucharam press. It is better to press the dough
    when it is still lukewarm so that the batter flows easily.
    [​IMG]
    Allow to dry till sunset. Remove the karuvadams from
    the cloth; sprinkling a little water over them eases the process.
    Dry them again for 2 more days until they are well dried.
    Store in a cool dry box. To serve, deep fry the
    karuvadams and enjoy!

    Lesson learnt:In 1970,thick plastic sheets were avaialble
    in the marker for Rs7/- per metre.My thrifty MIL advised
    me to use my old nylon saree ,as it is also made of some synthetic material.I took a nylon saree and made all the vadaams both rice and sago.
    It was scorching heat. At about 6pm. I brought the nylon saree
    from upstairs and started removing the vadaams.
    Normally vadaams would slip and come out of plastic sheets automatically.
    But I had to struggle to take out the vadaams after sprinkling water on the back side of the saree.In two hrs I was able to remove about 15 vadaams only that too in bits and pieces.
    My MIl felt really sad for giving this suggestion.The saree was so shrunk on the back side.The vadaam was so stubborn as a
    two year old kid to come out of the saree.Perhaps it liked the saree much.Net result, vadaam lost, labour lost and saree lost.
    Lesson still remains.
    Next day I bought three metres of plastic sheet, repeated the process next Sunday with great vigour.Every situation is a learning process.
    Thalir vadaam making was a project in itself.This could take in
    as many as were available on hand. The whole
    process had to follow a streamlined program to
    achieve optimum result.
    Accordingly 2 people would be wiping the leaves with a cloth
    dipped in a mixture of oil and water, the next people on the line
    would spread the batter on the leaves
    (writing the vadam it was called),
    the next would arrange them on the idli plate and hand them
    over to the person sitting near the large fire wood stove
    with a huge steamer (this would be a large utensil
    called arikanchatti on which huge idli plates would be kept).
    The arikanchatti would be half filled with water and some hay
    would be put in the water so that the idli plate would sit tight
    on the water. The whole thing was covered with a huge lid
    with the idli plate inside the steamer. After the vadams
    were cooked by steaming, they were taken out and the
    next batch would go in for steaming. Now another set of
    people would peel off the cooked vadams from the leaves
    and spread them on the back of a new bamboo sieve.
    Up to this point, the job needs skilled labour. Now comes
    the turn of little children, who would take the bamboo sieves
    with vadams to the next room and transfer these vadams
    onto mats. The leaves from which vadams were removed
    would again go to the first set of people to be cleaned
    and then written in and then steamed. After an hour or so
    the vadams would to go to courtyard to be dried in the sun.
    More people needed now to mind the crows as well.
    This process would go on for 3 -4 hours.
    At the end came the most interesting part. The last batch
    would be thickly written vadams which would be eaten raw
    with a smearing of raw coconut oil on them. This was a
    delicacy nobody wanted to miss.

    But most of the fun was in eating the semi dried maavu
    throwing blame on the absentee crows.Wow!
    what a taste!
    Such bliss is incomparable. Unfortunately, it is now unrecognizable.
    This also is the season of preparing kadugumanga or
    vadumanga (Tamil) which again is a time consuming process.
    This is also the time when tamarind is processed. This takes
    days and days. The tamarind had to be shelled and dried
    and the seeds removed and the dried tamarind preserved
    in earthenware pots or ceramic jars with a sprinkling of salt.


    Vadaam season is over.Now children make strips/thatches out of coconut
    leaves split into two halves.Appa taught us how to make thatches .Every alternate year we needed at least 1500 coconut strips to cover the roof before the monsoon.Ours was
    a thatched house,though huge in size.
    Daily we used to make 5 keetrus each and all the 18 participants
    would complete a set of 1500 keetrus ready for rainy season.If we appoint labourers ,we had to give 50% of thatches as
    labour charges.
    Actually this was a good rehearsal for making plastic baskets
    out of plasric thin ribbons some 30 years later.
    Now father took up the session after mid April.All daughters and cousins were asked to do an exercise daily from Wren and Martin.
    Alternate days it was mental sum exercise followed by essay
    writing for 30 lines on
    any subject chosen by Appa.The subjects varied from "my hobby, visit to temple,beauty of wedding/temple processions and thrill of hitting mangoes from others' groves" etc.Every third child in the neighbour's houses enjoyed the vacation fully, while we struggled making coconut strips or writing essays.It is this practice, though hated by us all during those days, turned out to be a blessing later to train my children in writing good English.
    Now the house is empty. Children have settled elsewhere.
    Dubbas are empty.Jars are clean. 250gm vadaam and 200 gms of pickles last for a year.

    When I feel talking about this, my grand son says' Gapsaa adikkaathe Paatti.( Dont bluff)
    What a lovely vacation! The memory is still green.
    Jayasala 42
     
    Viswamitra, Gauri03, Rihana and 12 others like this.
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  2. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    Good write up. Glad to read your experience
     
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  3. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you Viji. Hope you continue to stay in Kerala which may not be
    very hot.
    Jayasala 42
     
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  4. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Viji,
    Thank you very much.Hope you continue to stay in Kerala which may not be very hot.
    Jayasala 42
     
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  5. iyerviji

    iyerviji IL Hall of Fame

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    It's very hot here
    I will be permanently here
     
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  6. sweetsmiley

    sweetsmiley Platinum IL'ite

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    Lovely snippet, very good to read your vacation memories..
     
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  7. joylokhi

    joylokhi Platinum IL'ite

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    Nice memories. I can very much relate to this except the part about vibhuti making, which we are not aware of. Upto last year I used to spend the whole of March making various vadams, often grumbling too about the work involved but the satisfaction when frying the same and all family enjoying it, was immense. This year onwards ( the size of our family having grown considerably) decided to just purchase from caterers - now many have sprung up making quality home made vadams etc for sale and easily recd through couriers too. However, still miss the efforts, especially when others used to join in to help!
     
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  8. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello: Madam sister @jayasala42 ,
    Thanks . Great fun during summer holidays and at the time of beginning of Agni Natchathiram. You have flooded my memories with art of and intricacies of varieties of Karuvadaam making which is exclusive skill of South Indians. It reminds my assistance to mom & sister during those sunny days!

    2. In later part of 1950s during my schooling, sister & I in hot month of May in Chennai then Madras Triplicane with few mother’s bosom friends as a team in the early part of dawn in open terrace we all collectively around an immaculate dothi of dad just laundered the previous day transfer just a ladle of Karuvadaam liquidous on the cloth carefully and then in shift guard it till evening to prevent zigzag flying crows devour the drying

    3. I am in hurry to prepare & assist better-1/2, preliminaries for lunch. Hence haste in my FB.
    Regards. God bless.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2022
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  9. umaakumar

    umaakumar Gold IL'ite

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    Dear madam Jayasala,
    Wonderful snippet. You explaining the making of vadam, reminded me of my childhood. My mom and grandma would make them and we on the pretext of guarding them would eat a few.
    Those days will never come back. Very few people make vadam these days. Once or twice i tried and there was so much dust settling on it, that I gave up
    Regards
    Uma
     
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  10. Amica

    Amica IL Hall of Fame

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    @jayasala42, I love reading your snippets. I have never experienced any of these joys but enjoy them vicariously through you. So, thank you and please write more!
    .
     
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