I am sure all of you would have celebrated Karadayan nonbu in the traditional manner. I celebrated it as usual with sweet and salty adais. As the time for the nonbu this year was a convenient breakfast time there was no hassle of preparing a separate breakfast. That helped a lot in getting ready for the Puja. This time round, I am in Hyderabad and we have an Arali tree right in the front yard. So Arali flowers were no problem. The adais came out perfect also. On the whole, a very satisfying nonbu.
It gives me great joy to see that a great many people have visited my blog on the eve of Karadayan nonbu. This invariably means that even in the midst of a very busy life, people want to keep up with our traditions and observe the important rituals for the well being of one and all. Festivals like these inculcate our rich culture in the growing children of today, especially since most people live far away from their native places and people have to be extra vigilant to remember these festivals that are popular only among a select set.
As always, on such festival days, I go back down the memory lane and try to remember how I celebrated nonbu in the previous years. In my Puthucode days, the nonbu was a big festival as everyone around was celebrating it. The whole village was filled with fragrance of roasted rice flour and Arali flowers. In Bangalore some years later, we were the only people celebrating in the whole street. Of course my sister-in-law would come visiting bringing her adais. This time around perhaps I am the only one celebrating the festival in the whole colony. Each nonbu has been different from the other, in one way or the other.
All said and done, my Puthucode nonbu always tops my sweet memories. It was totally relaxed for everyone. There was no last minute shopping to do and most importantly the whole run-up to the nonbu was delegated efficiently and each person got a job that she was capable of; a little girl of 5 would be asked to keep the flowers in the neyvedyam leaves and an older girl would have to get the flowers from the garden and string them. The preparations started well in advance with the maid pounding the rice. She knew exactly how much rice was to be pounded, though she would ask my echiyamma, “Shall I bring 1 kg of rice from the pathayam (a wooden box in which rice was stored).” My echiyamma would say, “I think it should be sufficient, or else take 1-1/2 kg”. Having got the rice pounded well in advance, there was enough time to roast the flour. Even if by chance my mother didn’t get the time to do it immediately, there would always be some neighbours dropping by just to say hi to my Echiyamma. During the conversation, either they would ask or my echiyamma would enquire of them “Singari (or Lakshmi or Ammu or Chellam as the case may be) have you roasted the rice flour for nonbu?” to which she would reply, “Yes echiyamma, I had some free time last evening”. Then my echiyamma would say, “Sita has not found time to roast the flour”. Dear Singari mami would immediately come to the kitchen and tell my mother, “Sita, where is the rice flour? While I am here, I might as well roast it for you”. In 5 minutes the rice flour was roasted, in between exchanging some juicy gossip from the village. Nobody considered it a burden to lend a helping hand to anyone, even if they had spent the whole day working in their own kitchen. Singari mami would be properly rewarded when the next lot of mangoes or jackfruits or other such things came from our farmhouse. And we all thought we were one family. There was never a feeling of haves and have nots among the whole village. My mother would think nothing of leaving a crying baby with Singari mami to be taken care of while she was very busy. Singari mami was only too happy to take care of a wailing baby, though she had her own house filled with growing grandchildren. I can just indulge in this reminiscing game forever and forget all about my surroundings. So sweet were those days and the nonbu adais!