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January 15, 2008

Pongal O Pongal.

Pongal was eating Sakkarai pongal and Vadai for Hd and I. It meant no school for Ashu as it took me a loooong time to finish cooking my elaborate lunch! Ashu refused to even taste my pongal but took a bite of the vadai since the "The paati, the crow and the vadai" story is her favorite. Got to invent a Pongal story fast! I saw her watching me with a puzzled look when I stepped out into the balcony in the freaking cold and prostrated before the Sun God and thanked him for showing up everyday without fail for the past million years or so! (What a thankless job!)

Today also made me realize that its really upto me to follow the traditions and culture at least to a certain extent. I got up a little earlier than usual, took a shower, washed my hair, lighted the lamp, made Pongal and Vadai for Naivedhyam, made an Mix veg sambar with double beans too just like my mom does, then a small pooja and the favorite part - eating. I did all this because Pongal is a special day for me. As for Hd, he would nt have remembered today is Pongal if I did nt tell him. He would nt have a problem getting up late even if he knew it was Pongal today. It would nt matter to him if he did nt eat pongal on Pongal. But for me, its unthinkable. I dont celebrate every festival but Pongal, Deepavali and Tamil New Years, Krishna Jayanthi, Ganesh chaturthi, Navarathri, etc.. are a little more important to me than the rest. I make sure at least to light a lamp and do a basic Naivehdyam on these days. My mom makes 19 or so Naivedhyam for Krishna Jayanthi and makes Kozhakattais if Pillayaar came in her dreams even if is to ask her to STOP making them! So its a huge step down for me even to offer cashews and raisins as Naivedhyam. But I do what I feel is important to me and leave the rest. But Hd! Nothing is important to him and he just nods to whatever I say when it comes to such stuff. It made me wonder what if the tables were turned. What if these stuff were important to him and not to me? Will he get up early and make "Pori Urundai" on Kaarthigai? Or "Kali" on Thiruvaadhirai? I don't think so. And its just not the cooking. He does nt know most of the customs or the reasons for celebrating them. (the next time my MIL says what a great job she has done with her son, Im going to punch her face for sure!) Pongal was the most important function to us when we lived in our village. Taking a huge Thaambaalam (brass plate) and hitting it with a wooden stick and screaming "Pongalo pongal", dressing up the cows and even our dog with Netti Maalai and garlands, painting their horns, doing an Aarthi for the cows and prostrating before them, offering rice, dal and clothes for all the farm helps, setting fire to all the old stuff on Bhogi, getting up early in the morning and keeping the left over food on turmeric leaf for the birds on Kanu, ... this is the stuff I grew up with. A day off from school, Bakshanams from Grand sweets, a pongal release movie,... is probably what Hd grew up with. I dont think its only because Hd is a city boy and me a village belle! But Im really glad I can meet my own expectations and dont have to rely on a clueless partner to keep alive my cherished childhood memories. Imagine Hd saying something like "My mom used to make awesome paruppu vadai and ghee dropping pongal. I want to keep that memory alive" to me. He sure wont have any more pleasant memories to keep alive!! Good luck to all the single men out there who have such expectations! Hope you meet your match. Or is it easier for men to let go? I have no clue.

Happy Pongal everyone! May all your lives overflow with abundant love and happiness!


Dee said...

Pongaloo Pongal ! :)

Savani said...

Happy Makar Sankranti to you too! The feat sounds delish.. send some over? :)

Anusha said...

sweet post! Happy Pongal!

Its our space said...

Nice post ,Boo.Happy Pongal.You are spot on about the Grand Sweets culture.A few years ago,I saw people ordering bakshanams for Krishna Jayanthi,for God's sakes!

btw,do you get any bird/creature to clear off the kanu spread there ? All I manage are some squirrels and hummingbirds.Don't know if they like the aviyal leftovers;)

The Kid said...

I made ven pongal, (I had no jaggery with me to make chakkarai pongal)! :)

Happy Pongal!

B o o said...

Dee - Pongalo pongal back at ya!

Dot Mom - And to you too. I wish. Especially the vadai turned out to be super good breaking all my bad records! :)

Kodis Mom - thanks. Same to you.

Mias Mom - One of those people you saw must have been my FIL! ;) But the bhakshanam making is a dying art. I am sure to order too if I lived in India. Probably Ashu will fondly remember the "Kadai bakshanams" one day! :) I have never kept Kanu outside India. Like my sis says, "we dont share out left overs with anyone"! ;)

Kid - There you go, make that your own tradition now! :) Happy Pongal to you too!

the mad momma said...

happy pongal!

look boo - its the rare man who cares for festivals... really.

the rarer man who recalls what went into making them special during his childhood. only we women do that.

and a foolish man who thinks his wife will do all that his mother did or dares to compare her!!!

i dont think HD is any of those :)

the OA didnt know today was a festival at all. i asked him if his family/community celebrated it and he blankly stared at me. i think i bet on a good horse!

B o o said...

MM - Tell me about the blank stare!!! Were these guys born as adults? What DID they do in their childhood? I know one thing all boys did/do in their adolescence and we cant make THAT a tradition now, can we? ;)

Manchus said...

Pongal Nalvazhthukal Boo!!! I guess it has more to do with memories and traditions you want to hold on to.

For me Diwali is sans fire crackers...I hate them. But everything about Diwali excites me. As for Pongal, I guess I am like your HD. I wouldn't really take the effort to get up early. But yes, I do make Pongal and these days it is two different versions of sweet pongal as I am the only person at home who would eat 'Vellam'..both my hubby and daughter like 'Sugar'. So it is basically like a Payasam for them.

Guess traditions just change over the generations.

Vadai I guess is the star attraction for all of us :)

Subhashree said...

Pongal nalvazhthukkal to you and your family.

Daisy said...

Pongalo pongal !

Anonymous said...

I made the double beans kuzhambu too. Maybe you can mail the vadais..
பொங்கல் நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

Spontaneous Mini said...

Happy Pongal,
My mother called to remind me that I have to get up before sunrise and pray to Surya Dev and recite my gayatri mantra.... I woke just before 7am and since it was so foggy I pretended I was up before the Mighty Sun to Thank Him.
Its a Bengali ritual followed in my father's family to eat whole foods (without using knife)and food cooked by the heat of the sun (no fire/gas). So its potatoes, lentils, beans, saags of diffrent kinds that have been (semi)cooked the previous night (the rest wonders done by the mighty sun). Very primitive but I assure you mothers make it very tasty.Thats the lunch shared only with the women of the house and then in the evening she made pathishapta... its mouth watering sweet dish that every bengali lives for never mind sugar, insulin and diabetes.
But I havnt been able to celebrate/ relish that since I left home for college then marriage.
Happy Makar Sankranti to everyone.

AA_Mom said...

Happy Makar Sankranti to you too. Thanks for adding me to Indian Mommies, Judging by the traffic it sent, your website seems pretty popular.

Tasted the said dishes and they are surely yummy! will come back for more ;-)

K 3 said...

Happy Pongal! I say, if your Hd has no recollections of a tradition, start your own and pretty soon he will accept them as the new reality! ;)

Anonymous said...

I finally made pongal in the evening (though I dreamt for one whole week about waking up and making pongal outside on three stones and didnt do it on the real day - blame it on prax who didnt show enthu!!! :) ...).
Pressure cooked rice and dhal at 7pm - split it into two halves - one with salt and pepper and the other with vellam. Copious Nei in both. Didnt have elaichi, cashew, nothing ... Nevertheless we finished it in 10 minutes!!! :) ...
Prax who refuses to see tamil channels, has seen Alagi and Alaypayuthe so far ... and was watching vettaiyaadu villayadu, and muthu simultaneously switching channels ... He hates vv and I havent seen it, so we both saw it together completely cursing it every two minutes and switching to the muthu, for some entertainment, nevertheless coming back to vv and happily cursing and watching it till the end. The worst movie of kamal, prax declared and we strangely had a very nice time hating it together! :) ...
My disappointment with prax not showing any enthu in outside pongal was compensated when I saw he finished the whole sakkarai pongal himself :))) ... We enjoyed pongal in strange ways I suppose!!! :) ...
I feel strangely guilty or have the missed the train feeling, when I dont celebrate diwali and pongal in complete flavor ...

Maggie said...

Happy Pongal!

Anonymous said...

No sakkarai pongal photo with cashew toppings this time...i remmeber seeing it last year or the previous one..

Inba's Corner said...

You're talking of a man who cares for festivals? There's my dad. In the cold winter, in our Delhi apartment, he insisted we celebrate Pongal on the verandah. Today, I appreciate his beliefs but at that point of time, as shy teenagers, my sister and I cringed as our non-Tamizh neighbours peeped out of their windows :)

Happy Pongal!

Unknown said...

after reading all the comments, I am going to bed with this thought...

is something wrong with me?

is it really that rare (or wrong) for a man to care about festivals?

deep in thought now...

happy pongal Boo.


Timepass said...

Happy Pongal Boo. I have seen some houses where the reverse of what u said happens.. i.e the lady does not know anything abt the festival but the man is more conversant with rituals..

Gauri said...

Happy Pongal Boo :-) And the neivedhyam sounds really delicious.

Premalatha said...

ask balan how I killed his expectations and childhood memories! We had pongal this year only because my mom is here. She asked me whether I have got all required stuff to make it. I was very happy to say yes because I knew all the required stuff bought for last year pongal have been lying around somewhere in the kitchen. I did not only kill his expectations, I have brainwashed him to agree with me that it is foolish to eat pongal on pongal day!

Pongal for me is huge communal celebration in the village, which I cannot achieve here. ;-)

Happy pongal to you.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Happy Pongal Boo !!
I always wonder myself if Cantaloupe will be aware of any of our traditions / customs if I don't take the initiative ! My MIL always keeps recollecting her days when her kids were little and she celebrated the festivals with so much enthusiam and now that kids are all away, she truly misses the festival spirit ... I wonder if BP was part of all that ! He hardly seems to care about anything.
But I want to believe (yes I am optimistic) that he truly appreciates my efforts though he may not acknowledge it !

Anonymous said...


long time lurker/reader, first comment, I think. I found your blog though Madmomma's when she had links.

Happy Pongal to you for men wanting to pass on traditions - there are *very* few men, IME, who do husband is one of the few, and I can't tell you the number of women who've told me my husband is the ONLY guy they know who knows about festivals/traditions and wants to pass them on to his kids!

I am in the US, and though I do keep Kanu pidi, nothing ever eats it - I wind up throwing it away after a few days. But oh well - it's the thought, right?


B o o said...

Manchus - Traditions do change definitely. We all do whats right and comfortable for us. But the inspiration is from our childhood right? What our moms did or what our families did?

Nisha - Same to you Nisha.

Daisy - Ditto!

YY - double beans kuzhambu? cool! are nt we the chips of the old blocks? ;)

S & A - That was a lovely read. See thats what I am talking about. I dont feel the same euphoria as I did back then but at least Im trying. And for me its not only so that Ashu will know but also for my own happiness and guess that makes it all the more special!

AA Mom - You are welcome. :)

K3 - Guess Im happy that Hd is so flexible about the whole thing but at the same time cant help but feel bad that all this does nt mean as much to him as it means to me! :(

B o o said...

Madura - Hd was so happy that I made Vadais. :) since Im a sucker for compliments, I took that as a sign that he likes it when I celebrate festivals especially by making yummy naivehdyams! ;) And LOL at the VV watching. But Im horrified that they showed it on TV and wondering how many kids saw that movie! :(

Moppets Mom - Thank you.

Anon - No time to take photos this time. Was so hungry by the end of the whole cooking spree that it went straight to our tummies! ;)

Inba - My dad cares for them too but thats only because my mom is very enthu about the whole thing and he cant help but join the fun! So may be theres still hope for me on Hd! ;)

Sundar - Not at all. Its not rare as I know my share of men who care about them and their wives too. But what if the wife does nt care. Will the men still care? Read Lathas comment below yours. Thats what would have happened in my case too if Hd cared and I did nt. But Hd caring or not does nt affect my way of celebrating that much. That was my point. Would like a post from you on this if you want to.

Timepass - The lady need not know but does she lend support? I can understand someone cooking a meal without interest but making all these bakshanams and the pooja and the dozens of other stuff do require a little bit of interest from the person. Or am I wrong?

Gauri - Thanks Gauri. I miss India where I would have tasted Pongal and Vadai from 5 different neighbors and would have chosen the best tasting vadais and smuggled them for later! ;)

Latha - This is what came to my mind when I was preparing for Pongal. That women rule! :)

CA - Men will surely appreciate our efforts especially when theres yummy food involved! ;)

M - thanks for delurking. And I have a Q for you. Will it be possible for your husband to celebrate festivals and pass on the tradition
to the kids without your support? I know I sound as if it all comes to the cooking part but then cooking sure plays a major role in our festivals right?

Tharini said...

Ths situation you wondered about is what runs in our house. R is the one with terrific memories of warm festival times, and I am the one with the more clinical attitude about festivals et all. However, I feel the need to live upto R's recollections and strive to do something similar if not recreate the entire aura for him. Its hard work.

Unknown said...

aandavan ellarukkum alandhu dhan kudukkaran.. (god measures what he doles out) I guess.

what I am trying to say is, somehow miraculously if one person in the family is dreamy and nostalgic when it comes to festivals and gets their eyes all glazed over just at the thought of festivals, the other person gives that blank stare or does not give too much importance to it!

Either it is that they dont care or people automatically take the other stance just to put a balance in things.. dont know!

The former is a case of "unlike poles attract" and the latter is a case of "crests and troughs"!


Aryan-Arjun said...

Hei Belated Happy Pongal..Nice post.
Aryan's mom

Lavs said...

I know nothing about festivals....Somehow I managed to collect recipes before the big event and tried to get a taste of the festival of my childhood days.God help my kids!!!

Anonymous said...

My brother likes and remembers his childhood things and likes to recreate them sometimes. He is lucky that his wife doesn't mind those things such as eating boiled mochakkai (whole broad beans), kappakilangu etc.
If men want to rule they can too. That is what I told balan when he first told me that Diwali to him meant distributing sweets to his neighbours. I told him that he was welcome to do it, as long as he prepares them, if he needs homecooked ones. He didn't find fun in distributing sweets bought from shops. Now he has learnt to prepare few sweets but does not do it on Diwali day.

Anonymous said...


oh yeah, my husband has no problem dealing with traditions on his own. Yes, a lot of our traditions are connected to cooking, but he's a competent enough cook to make things that are important to him. We've done this for a while now - passed on traditions that are important to each of us. For example, this past "Margazhi" month, he decided he wanted to introduce the kids to the thiruppavai, as he loved the songs - took it upon himself to sit with them every day, at whatever time of the day worked out, and taught them the tiruppavai for the day - he made a big game of it, to dentify the day of the month, find the associated tiruppavai etc. It was all his initiative - he even made pongal on some days (We don't do big breakfasts as a rule).

Among our friends, he is very unusual :-D


Laksh said...

Boo, thanks for that nostalgia trip! I can relate to a lot you say since I imagine Baktapuri agraharam when you talk of these things.

Great post! and Congrats on the licence!!

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