Wednesday, November 16, 2011


A Diwali rangoli, created by my granddaughters Parvati and Swati
This year’s Diwali was Danielle-Kartik’s Thalai Diwali, the Diwali they celebrate as a couple for the first time. I sent them a mail from which I quote two or three sentences:
“In those days – I am talking about 75 years back -- newly-married couples used to wait eagerly for Diwali, the reason being they had to wait a year or so to start living together as man and wife.
“The boy with his parents used to go his in-laws’ place to celebrate Diwali.  If they (I mean the newly-married couple) were lucky they would get a few moments to themselves, to hold each other’s hands and for some daring boys to steal a kiss or two!!”

Kartik and Danielle
 Thanking me, Danielle wrote back saying she enjoyed reading my mail, bursting out laughing when she read “steal one or two kisses”.

My parents

Well, life was indeed very different then. My parents got married when my mother was eight years old and my father 14 -- that was in 1902. They were together for 70-odd years, till 1972, when my father passed away. Through thick and thin, through ups and downs, through sadness and happiness they were together bringing up their seven children and settling them in life. They did not understand the word LOVE, for there was no such word in their dictionary, but they cared so much for each other in their own way. Both of them had shared their fears and anguish for each other with me.

My third sister , me and my eldest sister
My three elder sisters were married off when they were 12, 13 and 14, respectively. I was not even born when my eldest sister got married. She was older to me by 13 years. So I have no idea how her Thalai Diwali was celebrated. I was 10 years old when my second sister got married and went to her in-laws’ place within two-three months and was with her husband and his family to celebrate their first Diwali. Since they were living in the same city the whole family was invited for lunch and my sister and Athimbar were presented with new clothes.

With my second sister
Though we are Tamilians, we are third-generation families who have settled in Thiruvananthapuram (capital city of erstwhile Travancore state). We have been more influenced by the culture of Travancore and developed our own style of celebrating Diwali including the Thalai Diwali of newly-married couples.
When my third sister got married and moved over to Trichy with her husband before their first Diwali, gifts were sent to them.  I was in Delhi with my husband a month after my marriage. We were sent money to buy whatever we wanted. I was 17-plus when I got married in 1945 and that was regarded as rather late for a girl to be married off. When my 23-year-old niece’s marriage was put off till 1960 because she wanted to finish her graduation, so many comments were passed.

So customs and rituals were being changed to suit each family’s convenience and the times they lived in. 

Nowadays there are hardly any set rules and laws. That is only right. With each family having its members spread all over the world it is very difficult to stick to old rules. I feel each family should be given the freedom to celebrate the festivals as they choose to, in their own way. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


This evening I was watching an old Tamil movie (20 years old).  In one scene, the heroine was choosing earrings in a jewellery shop by holding each earring next to her ears, in front of the mirror. She was unable to decide which to go for. As she was looking in the mirror, trying the latest dangling ones, she was surprised to see another face in the mirror, that of a young man, signalling that this type looks good on her. When she tried another pair, the face in the mirror showed his disapproval. The face in the mirror was all smiles again when she tried the first one once more. That made the decision for her and she bought those earrings and on her way out thanked the youth.

Courtesy Internet
This scene in some way reminded me of what I experienced in a shoe shop in a mall in Chicago this June. I was there with my daughter-in-law Jaishree who was keen on getting me one or two pairs of footwear. Considering   my age she made me sit in the waiting alcove saying she would pick up a few samples and bring them over for approval. I took a seat and looking around found a young man occupying another chair.  Out of courtesy I said ‘Hello’ and he too responded with a smile and a ‘Hello’.

A young woman came over wearing the slippers she had chosen for the young man’s approval. He gave a thumbs down sign and she went back to choose another pair. She came back with another pair which suited her feet -- black with aqua blue/green design. I liked that colour combination and that must have showed on my face. The young man just looked at my face and gave the girl a ‘thumbs up’ sign.  The girl walked back and after a short time came back wearing another pair which did not suit her at all (my opinion). The young man also must have thought so and he shook his head in a negative manner.

This charade went on for about half an hour when Jaishree came with a few pairs of footwear in her arms, apologizing for the delay and asking me to follow her so that we could check the size and for me to choose the ones I liked. I got up saying “Best of luck” to the young man. He looked back at me with disappointment written all over his face and said “What! Are you are leaving? I thought you would help me in deciding which shoes will suit my wife”. I knew he was only joking.

I really enjoyed that half an hour waiting for Jaishree.