22 July 2009

Smashing pumpkins

I didn’t know that I had arrived in Chennai on an auspicious day: the first Friday of the Tamil month of Adi.

When I arrived at Raji’s apartment, the kolam drawn on the floor in front of her door was bigger and more intricate than usual. This was a sign that it was a special day.

I had arrived just in time for lunch. She told me we would have a special meal because it was the first Friday of Adi. She had made some coconut milk payasam (like a sweet pudding) which is prepared on each Friday of Adi.

Raji explained that Aadi is an important time, but it’s considered an inauspicious month for weddings and other ceremonies like housewarming pujas.

The newspaper had a special shopping supplement. I’m not sure what the significance of shopping is during the month of Adi, but I guess any excuse for shopping is a good one.

When I stepped out yesterday morning, I saw shopkeepers breaking huge green pumpkins in front of their shops. The tops were cut open and filled with red kumkum powder. A candle was then stuck in the opening and lit, before the pumpkin was smashed on the ground. For the rest of the day, I came across the red-coloured fleshy remains of these pumpkins on the sidewalks. Later when I quizzed Raji she told me that it was a new moon day, Adi Amavasi. On this day, ancestors are remembered. The broken pumpkins are to ward off the evil eye.

Today happened to be the solar eclipse. It took place early in the morning and I slept right through it, waking up to a sunny and very hot day.

Adi is also a month when the goddess Amman is worshipped. I read that she cures heat-related diseases like pox and rashes. If I pray to her, will she cure my heat rash? I left my prickly-heat powder in Bangalore!

1 comment :

roma said...

Nice picture, Isabel.