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Changing Customs and Traditions

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by padmininatarajan, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. padmininatarajan

    padmininatarajan New IL'ite

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    The month of Adi begins next week. It is the season when many festivals are celebrated. The three major Hindu Festivals are —Krishna Jayanthi, Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam. Every Chennai Hotel, Restaurant and Sweetmeat maker will jump into the band wagon and advertise event-appropriate menus and mass availability of the special dishes associated with each festival. October opens with Navaratri in progress and heralds Ramzan The Ramzan Biriyani is nowadays being popularised in the papers with advance orders rushing in. Navaratri Sundal may also make an appearance in bulk.

    The untasted, special dishes of neivedhiyam, believed to be the favourites and offered to a deity are an important aspect of any puja or festival. Generally the dishes are made from ingredients available in plenty in that season. These special dishes used to be prepared at home on festival days, first offered to God after performing special rituals or puja and then the family would join to celebrate and eat a meal together.

    However, every festival was a tedious proposition for the lady of the house. She had to prepare the dishes on the same day of the puja after a ritual bath. The rice flour, an important ingredient in most dishes had to be soaked, dried and then pulverised. It used to be the mortar and pestle or the chakki/iyandram until the electric mixie helped to reduce the physical labour.

    Generally, the mistress of the household also had to draw the Kolams, make special preparations for the puja—cleaning ad arranging all the paraphernalia needed for the puja—and then the Lord of the household would come and perform the puja by himself or with a priest guiding him. The daily menu also had to be cooked and sweetmeats were exchanged with neighbours and family circles. So a special festival or puja day was laborious, tiring and full of tension.

    With women becoming part of the task force, preparing elaborate items is getting to be impossible. So the catering is now outsourced. In many families even festive lunches and dinners are being hosted in clubs hotels and restaurants –the virundu saapadu, the saddya or the iftar and Christmas parties. Festivals are now only an opportunity to wear fine new clothes, the ethnic ones at that, and to bring out the jewellery.

    The puja is now performed with minimum effort in homes that at one time used to be filled with the smell of flowers and incense, the sound of tinkling bells from the puja room and the anklets and silver toe rings of the ladies who hurried to and fro as they made preparations for the celebrations that has now become part of family history.

    Now are the times of instant coffee, two-minute soups, gym weight loss and good health and spiritual nirvana. So why not instant pujas performed with plastic packets of murukku, cheedai; fried kozhakattai/modaks, appam and laddus in sweet boxes; poly tubs full of adai pradaman and other Kerala payasams; and parcels of biriyani and kilos of sundal?

    Society is always in a flux. Every few years are so the old customs, traditions and rituals are discarded, amended or new ones adopted. The change is forged by circumstances, environment, experiences and influences from other societies and simply to make life interesting.

    I suppose that even the Gods want a change!
     
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  2. Kam45

    Kam45 Junior IL'ite

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    Well written,Padmini.The ladies have to do almost all the work during the festivals.
    Nowadays for Krishna Jayanthi, if we order beforehand some caterers prepare the naivedyam batchanams just like we prepare at home

    Kamala.
     
  3. padmininatarajan

    padmininatarajan New IL'ite

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    Thanks Kamala!

    Just pop into Grand Sweets, Saravana Bhavan, Sree Krishna Sweets and buy all the bakshanam! Grand Sweets I hear even has an outlet in the US and Fedex's stuff to your home. Saravan Bhavan outlets are available all over the world.

    Instant prasadam.
     
  4. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Padmini,
    Timely blog heralding the arrival of the festival season.We used to look forward to these festivals when we were living in a joint family.It was nice to see ladies of diffrent age groups displaying their skills.It was also time to catch up with the family gossip.
    Sugar and cholestrol have put a spanner in the sorks.Orthopedic problems prevent ladies from satanding for a long time in the kitchen.Distance,traffic and cost have restricted the family get together.We therefore mechanically go through the motion of festivals with ready made hampers from sweet shops.
    Regards
    LAKSHIMINARAYANAN
     
  5. padmininatarajan

    padmininatarajan New IL'ite

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    Dear Lakshmi

    How true? But strangely enough I have edited and co-authored cook books that recoed the South Indian, especially Brahmin cuisine. The books are extremely popular, especially the 'Festival Samayal' book.

    Both men and women are trying out the recipes to make kozhakattai and thenkuzhal--why even the Vellai cheedai that can make experts take a slip in the oil is being made by adventurous, young chefs.

    I have great regard and admiration for the younger generation and if approached in the right spirit, they are game for traditions and customs...as long as it is not forced on them or dictated to in terms of ritual.

    Thanks for your wonderful feedback.

    Regards
    Padmini
     
  6. SriVidya75

    SriVidya75 Platinum IL'ite

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    padmini madam

    so true....during my child hood days we used to perform pooja at home, temple and then also again pooja in the evening during festival days...visit near n dear ones locally etc...

    but these days...festival starts with new clothes and food and ends with food...sometimes ready made sweets ie store bought..

    however I still am against store bought food atelast on festival days...and kept pooja as a must..my husband wont stop me from any of this and supports me in keeping this tradition of pooja and making food at home..so am glad to be able to do these till god gives me the capability to do it...

    finally we all deliver what god orders us to do...thats what i beleive
     
  7. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    padmini mam,

    I somehow try to still maintain the tradition.

    with the very fast track world, you get payasam also for neivedyam if you order the previous day. i was surprised at the ad that graced a local paper last week, the reason for the surprise is i live in the still orthodox b..society..

    I believe, a small prayer with a clear and clean mind is all that is need..God is happy even with a tulsi..isn't it.. that is what our puranas do say..
     
  8. aruna_077

    aruna_077 Senior IL'ite

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    it just depends on the lady of the house. If she believes in rituals, she will carry it out perfectly. If not, grand sweets and saravana bhavan are in the vicinity.
     
  9. padmininatarajan

    padmininatarajan New IL'ite

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    Thanks SriVidya.

    That is really great that you still make your own bakshanams.

    Kudos to your husband too!

    One question I wanted to ask all...how many men make their own preparations for the puja letting their wives concentrate on the cooking that is tedious by itself. And how many men come at the last moment near the puja area and ask 'Haan! Is everything ready for me to perform the puja?" so that all the alangaram of the deities are also left to the women"?
     
  10. padmininatarajan

    padmininatarajan New IL'ite

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    Thanks Snavy and Aruna!

    You said it right.

    "One has to be at the right place at the right time to achieve anything significant. One cannot will it to happen but one can always pray to make it happen. Thus free will finds its total expression in prayer. That one can pray is itself a blessing and how one prays makes prayer meaningful to the individual".

    Swami Dayananda
     

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