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'Oppukku chappani, Oorukku mankottai'

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Rrg, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Rrg

    Rrg Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Mindi,
    While posting your feed back on my story "Moondru Kodugal" you had mentioned that you did not get the meaning of "Oppukku Chappani ........".
    Let me try addressing your query through below article.
    Thanks for kindling me to write this thread.
    Trust you enjoy it.
    Cheers,
    Rrg

    'Oppukku chappani, Oorukku mankottai' (OC OM)
    This is an idiom, commonly used in Tamil.
    Many wrongly use it as 'uppukku chappani .....' though.
    Normally, as children, when we used to play games like football or cricket on the streets, there were times we took in someone as a fellow player - 'Nam ke vasthe' - for names sake. Such a player used to be referred as Oppukku Chapppani. These players will not get any great role to play in the game - but all the same would be there present. At best we used them for retrieving the ball that had been hit very far. :)

    For instance, due to parental compulsion, normally my kid brother used to be a part of our team. It was a sort of package deal. Permission for me to go out & play was subject to my kid brother also being suitably accommodated in the team. Perhaps, it was here, I learnt on my initial tricks on marketing.
    Needless to mention, this participation gave him a great ego satisfaction, playing as an equal with his seniors.

    At times, we were compelled to accept an OC into our team for the sake of his resources (like bat / ball etc) or facilities at his disposal (like playing in their compound ).
    In such cases, we gave him more respect as the availability of the resources depended on his good moods .
    But, we were careful enough not to let him have his share of fun in the beginning itself for fear of his ditching us anytime thereafter. :rotfl

    Coming to the idiom per-se:
    Oppukku means 'for the sake of agreement'; Chappani means a 'lame person', who, otherwise, may not be an equal participant in the game.
    You may remember Kamal playing the role of chappani in 16 vayathinile.:)
    Thus including one in the team for "names sake" came to be refered as 'Oppukku Chappani'.

    But the ' Oorukku mangottai' portion is more complicated to explain.
    I remember, as a very young boy, I was included in a football team, where my elder brother was the main stay. During the game the senior boys kept referring to me as "OC OM'.
    I took objection to being called 'mangottai' (mango seed) and complained to my parents. Despite all their 'samadhnams' the word 'mangottai' got stuck in my mind.
    Years later, I asked my grand mom asto why they call a person 'mangottai', in this particular idiom.

    Normally, 3 people travelling together was considered in-auspicious.
    So whenever, there was no other go but to travel as three, two will go in front and the third a bit behind, to beat the taboo.
    Also, the third man carried a 'mangottai' in his handbag, as a substitute for one more person.
    Mangottai, if planted grows into a plant. So, it has life.
    Also, the mango seed is thick as a skull, representing the head of a person.
    Perhaps, Mangottai as a 'living head' was considered a substitute for the fourth person.
    Oorukkku stands for 'journey'.
    Thus 'Oorukku Mangottai' stands for the mango seed which accompanies the travelers in the journey, only as a substitute for the fourth person, with no role to play in the proceedings. - once again meaning 'Nam ke vasthe' - names sake.

    Don't ask me why not 'Oorukku thengai' or any such, as thengai (coconut), in addition to thick skull, has eyes as well, more akin to a living person.
    Presumably our elders preferred 'mangottai' because of its size and hence the idiom. Also, the idiom sounds better with 'mangottai' than 'thengai'.
    This was my long gone GM's version.
    If anyone has any other explanation to this idiom, it is welcome.

    Cheers,
    Rrg
     
    2 people like this.
  2. monifa13

    monifa13 Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear Rrg - What a sensible post! I don't think I have ever read you before but I will now.I read your other post 'Moonru Kodugal' and loved it. Probably they opted for a Mangottai instead of a coconut because a dry mangottai can last longer than a coconut. Don't you think so?
     
  3. mithila kannan

    mithila kannan Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Rrg,
    A very delightful as well as an informative post.To be frank I have neve bothered to think about the significance of 'mangottai' in this saying.
    On festival days we South Indians make thoran of mango leaves,it is a must.Is it because mango is considered auspicious that the thoran is symbolic of joys to come?
    Normally when people travel with a specific purpose,do they worry about taking a fourth person incase three have to travel.So may be our elders decided that a mangottai may be auspicious to accompany those travelling?A mangottai,a good one,if planted will grow into a tree and offer fruit.

    Enjoyed the post.
    love
    mithila
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2010
  4. Cindhuja

    Cindhuja Gold IL'ite

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    Once again enjoyed reading your thread.Ever never analyzed about the maangottai subject :)..Thanks for the details..But onething right from childhood i had an aversion towards the oppukku chappani concept..I'll better stay away than being in that position :idea..aana maangottai artham puriyadha oru maangaaya irundhu iruken :hide:
     
  5. natpudan

    natpudan Gold IL'ite

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    Dear RRG,

    After a break you are back. Welcome again. Wish you did attend a few more wedding ceremonies during this break, because we can expect wonderful snippets from you on them.

    OCOM - Though a little I knew earlier about it, now I am aware of the full story.

    Good one RRG.
     
  6. Rrg

    Rrg Gold IL'ite

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    Dear monifa13, Mithila Kannan, Cindhuja & Natpudan,
    At the outset I am pleased that you all liked this post. I attempted it as a clarification for those Tamilians not so conversant with Tamil idioms.

    Be that as it may, why elders chose mangottai and not others- your guess is as good as mine. All the same, atleast it lead to our having an interesting chat. So far so good. :)

    In our house, for 'ponnu parkals' for my eldest brother, my parents used to take our youngest brother along as OCOM. He was all of 5 yrs then. Perhaps I was not preferred as I was considered more of 'mundrikottai' than 'mangottai'. :rotfl
    Cheers,
    Rrg
     
  7. monifa13

    monifa13 Bronze IL'ite

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    It's great fun imagining you as a 'mundrikottai'! i am loving it :rotfl. Don't you think mundrikottai is tastier than mangottai and better looking?
     
  8. Rrg

    Rrg Gold IL'ite

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    Mundri kottais need proper processing before they become tasty. Otherwise they could spell trouble.

    I do not know what gives you such a kick imagining myself to be a mundri kottai. :)
    I am not complaining though.
    Cheers,
    Rrg
     
  9. iyerviji

    iyerviji Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Rrg

    Enjoyed reading your post. I have also heard about this idiom but nice to hear from you in detail. For ponnu parkal they might not be taking you along with them because the girl might like you instead of your brother isnt it.

    Regards
    viji
     
  10. Mindian

    Mindian IL Hall of Fame

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    thank you so much,Rrg sir..it was sweet of you to come with another thread explaining the idiom.very interesting.now i realize I was a mankottai (i too would prefer to be a mundrikottai) when i accompanied my cousin to see his would be bride.
    actually my thamizh has improved a lot after marriage (am married to a azhagiya thamizh magan :biglaugh ).it has become better after coming to Malaysia and lastly after interacting here in IL.:)
     

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