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Kidaram – Large Brass Water Storage Pot

Kidaram, the huge brass water storage pot on pedestal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This large brass storage pot is known as Kidaram in Tamil language. Kidaram is used for storage of water in the area known as Chettinadu in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Chettinadu is a dry area and in the olden days where corporation water supply was not available through the running pipelines, people used to depend on rain water for drinking purpose. Rain water used to be collected in a large vessel with wide open mouth placed directly under the sky to capture as much water as possible and then the collected water would be transferred to kidaram for storage.

Usage Of Kidaram For Fetching And Storage Of Water

There is another method for collection of rain water for drinking purpose. Chettinadu houses are designed to have large courtyards open to sky within their huge houses. The openings have a sloping roof from all four sides and rain water would pour down into the floor of the courtyards. By this design of the house, the Chettinadu people used to have rain water pouring down into their own houses. The flowing water from the roof used to be collected into the kidaram directly after filtering the water through clean white veshti (dhoti or pancha) or white saree traditionally worn by elderly widows. The old photo albums of Chettiyar’s marriage functions reveal the use of these large kidarams mounted on the traditional bullock carts to bring water from the local temple tank called ‘Oorani for cooking feast for the guests.

The circumference of the huge brass pot is 8 feet 4 inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Design Of Kidaram

The storage pot has a huge belly to enable preserving large quantity of water with a narrow neck to prevent spillage or evaporation of the water. This pot shown in the picture has belly circumference (perimeter) of 8.4 feet and looks really huge. The height is 3 feet 10 inches with pedestal and 3 feet 4 inches without pedestal. The bottom circumference is 6 feet 7 inches. The base of the neck is 11 inches in diameter and the opening of the neck is 1 feet 2 inches in diameter. The rings of both sides of the neck are 5 and ½ inches each. The height of the lid is 6 inches. The huge pot weighs 40 kilos without the pedestal. It has to be carried by two people at least and is normally transported by inserting a long bamboo pole through the two rings and each person shouldering the each end of the pole.

The height of the huge water pot is 3 feet 10 inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kidaram is the largest of all variety of vessels used in Chettinadu homes. This huge vessel matches with the gigantic scale of the architecture of the houses. Kidaram is used as a water harvesting device along with the sloping roof and open courtyards which facilitate the rain water to flow into the house. An excellent and ingenious design invented by Nagarathar to harvest water in the drought prone Chettinadu. These beautiful kidarams would normally decorate the four corners of the ‘Mutram,’ another name for open courtyard. If not four, at least one kidaram will be in one corner containing drinking water. The height of the kidarams varies between 3 to 7 feet. The kidarams are made out of either copper or brass. Though copper kidarams are costly, they preserve the purity of water for more than 6 months. That is the magic of the copper. It is interesting to note that the lid to this giant vessel comes in the shape of a roof of a hut.

Kidaram without pedestal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An angled view of kidaram with large belly, narrow neck and a lid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top view of the kidaram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admire the hand made ring of 5.4 inches diameter riveted to the neck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lid of the kidaram in the shape of the roof of a hut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Colour Of The Kidaram

The colour of the vessel looks brownish green because of  formation of patina on the surface of the brass vessel due to age. According to my estimate it should be 150 years to 200 years old  belonging to early 1860s. It is natural that a thin protective layer forms on the surface of aged brass or copper items and this layer is called ‘patina’ which will be brownish green initially and turns into beautiful green colour as per the age of the exposed metal.

The best example of patina is the famous Statue of Liberty, the colossal sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the United States which is made out of copper. Instead of the original copper colour of pinkish brown, it looks greenish due to formation of patina over the 130 years of exposure to nature. It was commissioned in the year  1886 and is nearly 130 years old.

Statue of Liberty, made with copper metal, appearing in green colour due to formation of patina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is patina?

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Patina (/ˈpætɨnə/ or /pəˈtiːnə/) is a thin layer that variously forms on the surface of stone; on copper, bronze and similar metals (tarnish produced by oxidation or other chemical processes); on wooden furniture (sheen produced by age, wear, and polishing); or any such acquired change of a surface through age and exposure. Patinas can provide a protective covering to materials that would otherwise be damaged by corrosion or weathering. They may also be aesthetically appealing.”

Antique lovers, particularly from the west, love their antiques with the original patina formation. Patina gives a beautiful brownish green colour to the metallic objects and is aesthetically appealing. Some people prefer their antiques cleaned thoroughly of the patina to reveal the original color of the object when it was made. Archaeologists find out the age of the object by analyzing the patina.

How I Collected This Wonderful Brass Pot

During one of my trips in search of antiques, I happened to see this beauty in an antique shop in Karaikudi town in Chettinadu. It looked stunningly beautiful and my instinct prompted me to possess it. After the initial inquiries with the shop owner, I realized it is beyond my reach to buy the piece. I kept on dreaming about it. In one of my conversations, I mentioned to my friend Mr Jana Balasubramaniam, an investor by profession and Co-founder and Director in a company, whom we affectionately call Jana, about my visit to Karaikudi and my interest in antiques. He told me to inform him if I visit Karaikudi again and that he would make arrangements for my antique hunting. I did so when I planned to have a second visit.

 Jana introduced me to Mr Muralidharan, a native of Karaikudi and a well-known professional. Here I must say that Mr Muralidharan is an excellent host and he personally accompanied me to the antique shops. I confessed to him my desire to own the huge brass water storage pot if I get it within my budget. It was a pleasant surprise to me that the shop owner greeted Mr Muralidharan with respect in the local Tamil language and enquired about the purpose of his visit to his shop. I later realized that being a local professional, most of the shop owners in the locality know him and he was well regarded. Mr Muralidharan managed to finalize the price within my budget including a stone pedestal to mount the huge pot (if the brass pot is not mounted on a stone or a wooden pedestal, there are chances of the base of the pot getting damaged),  packing, forwarding and transporting the vessel by road to reach Hyderabad where I reside. The pot was delivered to me in an excellent condition and now it occupies a prominent place in my house with every visitor admiring its regal elegance.

Mr Muralidharan with tha kidaram in the antique shop at Karaikudi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am grateful to Jana for his wonderful gesture of introducing me to Mr Muralidharan and for making excellent arrangements for my visit to Karaikudi. I am indebted to Mr Muralidharan for taking care of me so well and making it possible for me to own this grand vessel.

The Unique Architecture Of Chettiar Houses

Here I must say something about Chettinadu and Chettiar’s houses. Chettinadu is a hot and semi-arid region. The Chettinadu houses were designed  taking into consideration  the climate of the region. The materials for construction were selected accordingly to insulate and ventilate the houses. The central point of the houses were the courtyards facing east/west and the houses are built around the courtyards that bring in  light, sun, shade, air and rain to the house. Chetti is a short form of Chettiars, also known as Nagarathar, the trading  and finance business community in Tamil Nadu. Chettinadu means the region where Chettiars live. They are also called as ‘Nattu Kotai Chettiars’ meaning the Chettiars who live in the houses resembling mini forts or local forts. This entrepreneurial community developed their own architecture and town planning and their houses are unique in their size and design. The houses are huge mansions normally extending from one road to next parallel road. The front entrance door will start in one road and the backend exit door will be in the next parallel road.

A Chettinadu house with intricate wooden work on the roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The general design is that there will be a central courtyard with a high decorated roof surrounded on four sides by corridors supported by huge wooden pillars. From the corridors will be the entrance to the array of rooms for the family. There will be two or three courtyards in a typical house. The striking part of the houses is the highly carved wooden doors and windows .The houses are generally finished with special plaster made out of lime and the white of the egg, stucco work, terracotta tiled roofs, marble floors and Athangudi tiles that come in a myriad of colors and patterns, and stain glassed windows. The entrances of the houses are adorned with the icons of Gajalakhmi, Parvathi Parameswar and Meenakshi Sundereswar. The belief is that Gajalaksmi brings in wealth and prosperity and Shiva Parvathi couple brings in happy family life to the residents.

Top view of the kidaram without the lid
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Vintage Attar Distillation Vessel – Copper ‘Bhapka’

Distillation vessel ”Bhapka” with large belly and narrow neck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attar is an Indian name for the traditional perfumes made in India by ancient technique of distillation using copper vessels.This beautifully shaped copper vessel called ‘Bhapka’ is used in the traditional method of distillation of attar. The very mention of attar gives a romantic feeling of lingering fragrance that is unique to Indian culture. Mughal emperors, Indian Maharajas, their queens and harems, the noble families of bygone era, all used delicately scented traditional attars for lifting their souls to new levels of ecstasy and make themselves more inviting. Each royalty patronised their own favourite attar and their arrival was significantly felt by the kind of attar associated with them and the gentle perfumed wind heralded their arrival into the royal durbars, courts and to their ladies.

The traditional attars are made with rare and exotic variety of flowers, herbs, roots and spices. The base oil for the attar is Sandalwood oil. It has the inherent quality of absorbing the scents of the other oils by subsiding its own scent.

Collection of rare attars – Display from a shop in Hyderabad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dwindling Effect

The once famous and most adored traditional attars of Hindustan are no more available in their sublime purity. The pervading adulteration has also penetrated into these traditional scents. The reasons could be the rarity and the high cost of sandalwood oil, insensitivity to fine taste and quality and most importantly the greed to make money by dubious methods.

The competition from the poor chemically made scents (called foreign scents) that invaded the Indian markets with their abundant side-effects could be one of the reasons for the lack of buyers for the authentic, pure agro-based and environment friendly (eco-friendly) attars. The so called sprays of foreign scents that produce more gas and side-effects than perfume with their low price have virtually killed the traditional attars that gave the divine and delicate fragrances to the connoisseurs.

A Memory from My Childhood

When I was about 12 or 13, there was an attar vendor whose name was Sayeeb. He used to come to our house often and sell a variety of attars. He was a middle aged Muslim man, dressed in a traditional white kurta and pyjama along with a turban with its tail end hanging till his hips. He sported a pepper-salt beard, had an assorted colored beads necklace hanging around his neck and walked barefoot. He carried a beautiful wooden box with brass trims, lined inside with maroon coloured mukhmal (velvet) cloth containing different bottles of attar. Each bottle was securely placed in the square slots resembling pigeon holes. The box was hung on his shoulder with the help of a thick cotton tape secured to the brass handles of the box.

Whenever he used to visit our house, he used to unlock the box and open it for us to have a glimpse of the beautiful bottles with divine fragrances. He would ask us to stretch our hands and then would dab tiny amount of attar on the back of our palms and ask us to experience the fragrance. Once we were convinced and our selection made, he would dexterously pour the ordered quantity into our tiny glass bottles taken out from our own little attar daan. Attar daan is a small box with brass trims having slots inside to place each attar bottle which has a mini lock. Locking the attar daan was very much required since the costly and rare attars had to be protected from misuse. The attar daan was always kept in a cupboard with other valuable items like silk sarees, gold ornaments, silver items etc.

The Making Of Traditional Attar

The process of making traditional attars takes a minimum of ten days.The flowers are soaked in water and heated in large copper pots . The automatic vapours are then transferred to a receptacle copper vessel through bamboo pipes containing pure Sandalwood oil which is the base oil for attar. Attar is also made from aromatic spices, herbs, roots etc.

Attar distillation process showing brick batti-fire, boiling pot, bamboo pipe connecting receiving pot bhapka, copper bhapka, bhapka immersed in cooling tank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The distillation unit consists of three parts.

Part one is a large copper vessel called ‘Deg’ in which water and fragrant flowers to be distilled are placed.

Part two is a copper vessel with a large belly and narrow long neck called ‘Bhapka’. Bhapka means ‘steam’ in Hindi language and that is why the vessel that captures the fragrance filled steam from the deg is called bhapka.

Part three is a ‘Chonga’, a hallow bamboo pipe that connects the deg and bhapka. The bamboo pipe is wrapped with rope made from local grasses and serves as an insulator to the pipe.

The simple distillation unit extracts the inherent delicate essence of the fragrant flower. The deg is filled with pure water and then the fresh fragrant flowers are placed inside it. Its lid is then sealed by a clay ribbon of approximately three inches and tightly held by a spring called ‘Kamani’ which makes a vapor tight sealing system between the deg and its lid.

There will be a hole on the lid to insert a bamboo pipe to extract the vapors from the deg. The receiving copper vessel i.e. bhapka is filled with pure sandalwood oil. Bamboo pipe is inserted into its mouth and sealed with clay and cotton. The sealed bhapka with the bamboo pipe is lowered and allowed to settle down into the waters of a cooling tank known as ‘gachchi’ that eventually converts the sweet vapors into molecules of fragrant attar.

The other end of the bamboo pipe is inserted into the hole in the lid of the deg and sealed tightly by the combination of cotton and clay. The deg containing flowers in water is heated with wood or cow-dung fire and the fragrant vapors produced rise up from the deg and pass through the bamboo pipes into the bhapka immersed in the cooling tank. The vapors get condensed in the bhapka and after distillation the water and oil get separated and the aromatic oil molecules get absorbed by the sandalwood oil. Then the water is taken off or decanted through the hole in the bhapka and mixed with the water in the deg for the next process of distillation.

The distillation process is repeated several times for 15 days till the sandalwood oil in the bhapka is fully saturated and achieves the desired fragrant perfume of that flower. The sandalwood oil completely gives up its own fragrance and acquires the fragrance of the flower that is used in distillation process.

Attar batti showing big copper boiling pots ‘Deg’ fired by dry cow dung cakes

 

Bhapka connected to boiling pot with bamboo pipe and lowered into cooling tank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bhapka immersed in cooling tank for condensing the attar vapors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Something about the Marvellous Antique Bhapka

This bhapka is handmade with copper metal sheet of thick gauge. You will observe beautiful hammer marks throughout its body. It was initially made into few parts and later joined together to make a perfectly shaped bhapka with a nice big belly and a neat long neck. At a glance, it gives an impression of a huge copper flower vase made perfectly. This is how I looked at it when I first saw it in the warehouse of an antique dealer in Ahmedabad way back in the year 1986. During one of my usual rounds to antique shops in Ahmedabad, I saw this odd looking copper vessel and I inquired about it with the shop owner. He had no idea about it. I liked its shape and the pattern of the hammer marks. I also saw that there were inscriptions on the body and I was confident that I could decode the inscriptions and find out the true nature and purpose for which it was made. I struck a bargain and brought it along with me to Mumbai where I used to stay back then. After cleaning, it was so beautiful and shiny with pinkish brown color. Its flower vase type of shape gave me an idea that it would make an exquisite floor lamp base. I bought a large size lamp shade made out of gold color silk cloth and fixed it on the top of its long neck. It was perfect! Later it became a center of attraction in our drawing room and conversation piece when guests would arrive.

Bhapka hand made with thick gauge copper sheet
Bhapka hand made with thick gauge copper sheet

 

Bhapka shown in the inclined position

 

Beautiful jointing of the copper sheet parts to make a perfectly shaped Bhapka

 

Inscription on the body of Bhapka (I will be grateful if anybody can read and tell me what it means)

 

Another inscription on the body of Bhapka

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rooh Gulab attar is made with roses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The old classic literature on attars say that the floral variety that are primarily used for making attar are rose, jasmine, bele, molesari, champa and tuberose. Coming to root variety, vetiver and ginger are mainly used for making attar. Barks of trees like cinnamon, sandalwood and aloe bark are also used. Musk, ambergris (a wax-like substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, found floating in tropical seas and used in perfume manufacture) and myrrh (a fragrant gum resin obtained from certain trees) are also used.

For all these ingredients, sandalwood oil is used as the base oil since the natural fragrance of the oil vanishes and it imbibes the aroma of the flower.

The Right Way To Apply Attar

It is mentioned in our ancient texts as to which part of the body should be anointed with attar for the maximum benefits in terms of aroma and health to the body and mind. Attars are applied on ‘pulse points’ which emanate the aroma most effectively. The blood vessels are nearest to the skin at the pulse points giving off much heat thus serving as mini pumps of fragrance. The warmth generated from the pulse points diffuses the aroma of the attar into the air. The continuous diffusion function of the body helps the wearer to enjoy the aroma through the day.

The sensitive pulse points are located behind the ears, between the breasts, on the neck and on the ankles, elbows and knees. Attar is to be applied on the heart centre, over the points of wrist pulse, back portion of the ears and on the subtle energetic pathways called marma points known as ajna or sthapani on the middle of forehead area. These points are conducive for the aromatic oils and they can be fully absorbed into the skin and the release of fragrance is gentle and subtle around the body. These aromatic attars regulate the breathing rhythm, stabilize the heartbeat, soothe the nervous system and calm the brain. These gentle aromatic attars lift your spirits to a higher level of consciousness, regulate prana and circulate the vital energy throughout.

 

A Brief About Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood oil is distilled from the matured tree heartwood and the roots of the tree. The oil is extracted by water or steam distillation method. A mature sandalwood tree yields up to 60 kilograms of perfumed oil. Most of the oil produced is used by the perfume and toiletries industry. The world famous Sandalwood soap is manufactured from the oil extracted from the trees grown in the forests of Karnataka around Mysore.

The advantage with perfume manufacturing using the distillation process is that the fragrance improves with the age of attar. The sandalwood oil is a fantastic fixative and an excellent preservative. If the attars are carefully preserved,the quality improves with age like in a vintage wine.

 

An Interesting Anecdote About Mysore Sandal Soap

There is a very interesting story on how the Mysore Sandal Soap came into existence. During the British rule in India, the Maharaja of Mysore used to harvest the sandalwood oil and export the same to England. It so happened that for some reason or the other, one shipment of sandalwood oil was rejected and the Maharaja did not know what to do with such huge precious cargo. One of his advisers advised the Maharaja to use the aromatic oil in his own production of soaps. The Maharaja immediately commissioned a soap-making plant to manufacture high class sandalwood soaps. Thus, the Maharaja stopped all export of sandalwood oil and the produce was used in the production of sandalwood soaps and in other related perfumery and toiletries industry. Till India attained independence, the Maharaja Soap factory was run by the Kingdom of Mysore.

 

Mysore Sandal soap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

You never must have given a thought about how attar is made till now. But behind it is an elaborate process and the vessels used were made for a purpose. With the advent of technology, traditional methods are slowly taking a hit along with all things associated with it. By now I guess you know that every time you apply a drop of attar, thousands of flowers  go into making the perfume along with the hard manual labor of artisans who take it upon themselves to keep alive the tradition of the dwindling craft of making attar. The attar is natural and made from nature’s most delicate creation known as flowers and aromatic produce. It is gentle on the skin and has no side effects. It is absolutely divine!

 

 

 

 

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Jaadis – The Ceramic Jars For Pickles

These beautiful ceramic jaadis you see in the pictures are used for storing pickles.These are known as pingani jaadi or peengan jaadi in south India meaning that they are made out of porcelain.These double colour beauties mostly in white and brown combination are pride of the kitchen few decades ago.They come in various sizes from huge jaadis for storing pickles for the entire year consumption for those large combined families to small ones to store ghee and curds for daily consumption. These marvellous jaadis come in different shapes but invariably in double colours of brown and white. The standard shape is a tall and cylindrical called kola jaadi. They come in the shape of yellow pumpkin called gummadikaya jaadi or Parangi jaadi. They also come with big belly with narrow base and opening and these are called gundrapujaadi. While in entire south they are called Jaadi (singular) in Kerala state alone they are called Bharani. In plural, they are called jaadis or jaadeelu.

With declining of combined families and increasing mini families in tiny apartments, the concept of storing anything for a long time has given way to use and throw culture. With the onset of such culture the large jaadis have given way to plastic small bottles that meant for use and throw. These lovely jaadis have disappeared from the households and became the rare items for antique collectors. I am fortunate enough to inherit and collect some of these enchanting pickle jars. Some of the families who still value the traditional way of living and who knew the value of storing items in porcelain containers still consider old is gold and use these jaadis. Our elders believed that the health depends on not only what we eat but also what vessels we use for cooking, storing and serving what we eat and drink. They used Brass and bronze vessels for cooking, copper vessels for water storage and jaadis for storing items like pickles, and many other food items and they believed that the properties of the vessel mixed with the food enhance the nutritional value of the food and keep them healthy and happy. Our experience shows our elders were immune to the several diseases that the present generation is suffering. The traditionalists claim that the vessels used for cooking in the bygone days made the fundamental difference.They lived much healthier and happier than our present generation which discarded our traditional cooking and eating style and diverged to fast food and micro woven grade plastics.

Jadeelu in a row

I have grown in Jaadi culture. We used to have these handsome jaadis of all sizes in our house in my village Someswaram. We were having large jaadis for storingdifferent varieties of mango pickleslike aavakaya, menthikaya, maagaya and tokkudupachadi for the entire year. The smaller sizes of the jaadis were used to take a small portion of the pickles from the large jaadis for a weekly consumption and for daily serving. Once the small jaadis were empty they were recharged with the pickles and this process continued till the large jaadis were empty. Normally the mango pickle season starts from the months of April and May and all the jaadis will be full with pickles. As we start consuming they become empty sometimes by February or March. By then tender raw mangoes start coming in and my mother used to prepare temporary pickles out of these mangoes.These temporary mango pickles are not prepared as ceremonially as the annual pickles and there will be some compromise on the quality of ingredients since it is meant to be provisional and has to be consumed in a short time till we make the standard variety of pickles.

Cylindrical jaadis- kola jaddelu

The Pickle season is a busy time in our house. The jaadis are cleaned and sun dried.There should not be any iota of moisture in the jaadis since moister spoils the pickle.They were sun dried at least three consecutive days. After that they are covered with lid and a cloth and kept them in the corner of the kitchen where nobody will enter.Then there will be exchange of notes with relatives and neighbours as to what varietyof mangoes,chillies and mustard seeds they would be buying and from where and their relative merits and demerits.There will be discussion on what they purchased last year and how good or bad the results were.The next major ingredient is oil and the success of the annual pickle depends on the quality of the oil. Only nuvvulanoone (oil extracted from sesame seeds also known as gingili seeds) is used for preparing aavakaaya and other pickles. My maternal grandfather used to cultivate gingili oil seeds and he used to send us for our annual consumption of gingili oil. For aavakaaya season we used to take the  sun dried sesame seeds to our local oil man known as telukuliwadu who has a native oil crusher comprising wooden drum with a log like crushing pestle powered by a bullock and the entire crushing devise is called ganugu. The Telukuliwadu would keep the gingili seeds and a little bit of jaggery into the wooden drum, keep the wooden crusher in the position, make few adjustments and give command to the bullock to move.The bullock will move in circular motion and the crusher will move around the inside of the wooden drum crushing the oil seeds. After 2 hours of slow and constant crushing the oil will form in the basin of the drum which will be collected. I used to sit on the wooden plank connecting the crusher and the bullock and have a circular ride. The oil is transferred into the brass oil cans and carried to the house.

2 litre jaadi with big round belly- gundrapu jaadi with manufacturer “Parrys” name inscription

We used to have dedicated mango trees exclusively meant for aavakaaya pickle. People will go to the tree owner and purchase the required quantity from him. Only selected mangoes will be plucked. Fortunately we had our own mango tree in our fields and our requirement of mangoes used to come from this tree.The remaining mangoes will be left on the tree to be plucked latter for mango fruits.

Once all ingredients are in place my mother would consult the panchangam, the Hindu calendar for a good day and time for preparing the aavakaya. Aavakaaya should be prepared when here is no bad time like Varjam, durmuhurtham, Rahukalam and yamagandam, It is a custom in those days to invite   elders to prepare the avakkaya. It is a way of showing respect and honouring the elders.My mother used to invite the wife of my grandfather’s brother; a widow, by name Pullamma for this auspicious ceremony. Aavakaya is prepared with devotion and under strict hygienic conditions. Pullammagaru is to put pasupubottlu(haldi dots )to the jaadis since jaadis are considered as Lakshmi pradam and they are treated with adoration.  Pullammagaru is to wear a madibatta(a cloth washed, dried and untouched by others) after taking a head bath and then only she would start preparing aavakaya. The entire family is to participate actively and the ceremony is to be a fun and great get- together. My paternal uncle, Baapi Raju garu, used to cut the mangos into right size pieces with the special mango chopper called mamidikaya kathipeeta. Great skill is involved in cutting a mango for the purpose of aavakaya since the mango has to be sliced with a single stroke.The mango pulp should not be pressed but sliced.The size of the cut pieces is very important in the preservation of the aavakaya.If the pieces are too small they will lose the crispness and become soggy. If the pieces are too big the essence of the mango juices will not be released into the mixture with the result we do not get the right consistency and taste. The mango should be cut along with the Tenka (seed).Me and my sisters used to clean the cut mango pieces with a clean cloth and take out the Jeedi (kernel) from the Tenka and the thin layer between the tenka and the jeedi. My mother used to help her by providing necessary ingredients, utensils and jaadis timely to make her job easy. Pullammagaru her own recipe and style for preparing aavakaya. 

Raw mangoes for aavakaya pickle
Raw mangoes for aavakaya pickle
Cutting the raw mangoes with special cutter (maamidi kaya Katti peeta)
Cutting the raw mangoes with special cutter (maamidi kaya Katti peeta)

Before starting the process Pullammagaru used  to do a prayer and put pasupubottle (haldi dots )to the jaadis since jaadis are considered as Lakshmi pradam and they are treated with adoration. After preparing the aavakaya ooragaya (pickle) it is stored in jaadilu and it is topped with a layer of oil .The oil prevents any moister coming into contact with the aavakayapachadi. After that the mouth of the jaadi is covered with clean white cloth called vasin iin Telugu and vaedu in Tamil and put the lid over the cloth.The secret behind covering the opening of the jaadi with cotton cloth is that cotton cloth will absorb the moisture around the jaadi and prevent the moisture thus entering into the jar. Even by chance any moisture enters the jaadi, the oil layer will prevent the moister come in contact with the pickle. The aavakaya is allowed to do its magical chemistry for three days and during these 3 days it is not disturbed.After three days my mother will wear madibatta and open the jaadi, stir the contents thoroughly with a ladle .She will transfer a small portion into a small jaadi for us to have a first time taste of the new aavakaya. From the day of preparation of aavakaya till the third day people wait impatiently to taste the first morsel of this red delight. Then starts the process of distribution to kith and kin. The aavakaya is first distributed to the families of sons and daughters. Small quantities of aavakaya packed in small jaadis or glass bottles is distributed to relatives and neighbours as an exchange of good will and  wait for their compliments. Similarly neighbours and relatives would also reciprocate the nice gesture of exchanging aavakaya. This mutual exchange is a part of the aavakaya culture.

After the demise of Pullammagaru, my mother took charge of the annual aavakaya preparation ceremony. Subsequently my wife Ramana got interested in preparation of the special Andhra ooragayalu and she used to prepare the pickles with utmost tradition and devotion. She will personally go and select the red chillies. She will bring two types of chillies. One the traditional hot chillies meant for pickles and second the Kashmiri variety which are not so hot but will give beautiful natural red colour to the aavakaya. Her pickles are a real success and she will invariably get lot of compliments from the friends and relatives. Even while we were in Mumbai, the great metro city, Ramana managed to get the traditional Gujarati women who will hand pound the chillies with the wooden rolu and rokali (large size mortar and pestle).After the decline of hand pounding services, she started using the milled powder.She would personally go to the market and select the mangoes after tasting them for correct pulupu and kanda (sourness and pulp). She is now a veteran in preparing traditional Andhra ooragayalu and her best bet is Menthi kaayapickle.

The favourite pickle of Tamilians “Vadumaangai“ is stored in the large peengan jaadis.Vadumaangai is prepared with tender green mangoes and preserved for a year.Similarly in Kerala “Uppumanga” is prepared with tender mangoes and this pickle is stored in brine in large Bharani.

 

The curd and butter milk is also stored in Jaadilu. During my days in our village, If any guests come to our house and adequate quantity of curds were not available,I used to go to the curd vendors and fetch the curds.The ladies in the farming community in our village used to sell curds stored in small jaadis. You have to pick up the number of jaadis you require and the curd is measured by jaadis. We used to take 3 or 4 jaadis and return the empty jaadis after use. Sometimes my mother used to keep a jaadi full of curds next to the plate and the guests would empty the jaadis. The curds prepared in jaadis taste excellent.

These jaadis are neutral in nature and do not affect or alter the taste,flavour and colour of the contents .The porcelain is a good preservative and keeps germs, bacteria and fungus away and thus the ideal jars to preserve pickles, chutneys and other long stored food items.We should admire the wisdom of our elders in selecting the ceramic jaadis for storage of food items .In our house and in my relatives house the jaadis are used to store jaggery, tamarind, turmeric, red chilli powder, salt, Gongoora chutney, tomato  pickle, usirikai(amla)chutney, drumsticks pickle and Ghee.

Special Red chillies for aavakaya
Special Red chillies for aavakaya
Cut mangoes ready for aavakaya pickle
Mixing the ingredients of aavakaya

 

How to make Andhra Special MamidikayaAavakaya

Ingredients:

Raw mangoes: 8 numbers medium sized (approximately 9 cups of Cut Mango)

Avalapodi (Mustard powder)      : 2 cups
Karampodi ( Chilli powder)          : 2 cups                             

Uppu (salt)   powdered                   : 1.5 cups

Menthulu (Fenugreek Seeds)       : 2 tbsp

Pasupu (Turmeric)                           : 1/2tbsp
Nuvvulanoone (Gingili Oil)           : 3 cups.
Garlic flakes                                         : 1/2 cup (optional)

 

 

 

Procedure

 

  •  Step-1: Clean the mangoes with water and dry them thoroughly with a clean dry cloth.Cut them into 12 pieces along with the seed. Remove jeedi and the thin layer.wipe them with cotton clean cloth.Keep them aside 
  •  Step-2: Take a big bowl that will accommodate all the ingredients. Place mustard powder, salt, turmeric power, garlic flakes and the fenugreek seeds in the bowl and mix them thoroughly.Add little oil to wet them. 
  • Step-3:Put handful of mango pieces into the masala mixture and roll them in the mixture so that the entire surface of the mango pieces are covered with the masala powder.
  •  Step-4: Take a dry Jaadi and pour little oil into the jaadi to wet the bottom. Now place the marinated mango pieces in the jaadi. Put little oil on the top of the mango pieces. Repeat this process till all the cut mangoes are covered with masala powder and placed in the jaadi.
  • Step-4: Put some oil on the top of the pickle and cover the opening of the jaadi with the lid. Then cover the opening with a clean cotton cloth and seal with a rope. This ritual of covering and tying the jadi opening with the cloth is known as  vasini kattadam 
  •  Step-5: The jaadi should be left alone for three consecutive days without disturbing the contents.In these 3 days the mango pieces,the masala powders, the oil and the salt mix and create the magical taste, texture and flavour that is unique to aavakaya. Remove the seal after 3 days and mix the aavakaya with a long dry ladle.Notice the red oil floating on top of the pickle known as oota. Oota is the sour juice of the mango extracted by the salt and mixed with the chilli essence and the oil. 
  • Step-6: Now the Andhra special  fresh maamidi kaiaavakai ooragaya is ready for serving
Aavakaya preparation in progress
Mango pieces marinated with pickle masala

Varieties in aavakaya

 

In aavakaya itself there are so many verities.The traditional and proper aavakaya is prepared invariably in all Andhra houses and also some few different varieties of the aavakaya are also prepared. I am listing here some of the other varieties of the aavakaya.

  • Bellam Aavakaya: Bellam( jaggery) is added to the aavakaya to get that experience of sweet and hot taste at the same time coupled with the sour taste of mango and spicy taste of mustard powder.
  • Allam Aavakaya: Ginger garlic paste is added to the regular aavakaya for that extra spicy effect.
  • Gutty Aavakaya: The mango is not cut into pieces but sliced to the half way through from the top end and half way through from the bottom end. AAvakaya spices are stuffed into the sliced sections.Rest of the process is same.
  • Pachakaram Aavakaya: Instead of red chilli powder, yellow chilli powder is used. Yellow chillies are grown in the area around Gollaprolu and Pitthapura in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh) .The yellow chilies are also known as gollaprolu  mirapakayalu which have a unique taste.
  • Nuvvula aavakaya: powdered sesame is added to the aavakaya.
  • Pulihora aavakaya: Pulihora talimpu or seasoning (known as Chaunk or tadka in Hindi) is added to the regular aavakaya for that special flavour.
  • Menthi aavakaya: Menthi powder (fenugreek powder) is added along with the mustard powder in this variant of aavakaya for that peculiar menthi taste.
  • Vellulli aavakaya: Vellullipayalu (garlic flakes with the skin are added to aavakaya. The oota will enter into the garlic flakes and when chewed gives a heady taste.
  • Yendu aavakaya: The traditional aavakaya is sun dried in the jaadi several times till the entire oota is absorbed by the mango pieces.Yendu aavakaya pieces go very well with curd rice.
  • Usiri aavakaya:In place of green mango pieces, usirikaya (Indian gooseberry) is used as it is without cutting into pieces. The Usiri kaya is pierced with a tooth pick to form small holes to facilitate flow of juices. This aavakaya has medicinal effect according to Ayurveda.
  • Dosa aavakaya: Dosakaya (Yellow cucumber) is cut into pieces and are used in preparing aavakaya in place of mango.
  • Senagal aaavakaya: Sanagalu (Bengal gram, chanaor chickpeas) are added to the regular aavakaya.
Aavakaya ready to be put in the jaadi
Prepared aavakaya being transferred into jaadi

How aavakaya is consumed

Aavakaya is consumed mainly by Andhra people.Andhra is known as the rice bowl of India and the rice is the staple food of Andhras. They have invented various chutneys, pickles and powders that go excellently with rice.Andhra is also is the place where many varietiesof chillies are grown apart from mangoes, oil seeds like sesame and groundnuts.Ghee is also available plenty in this land. Using all these locally available ingredients, Andhras have since ages are patrons of good food with varieties of side and main dishes that go exceedingly well with rice. For many Andhras, aavakaya is a main dish. They mix aavakaya along with mango pieces, the sauce like pickle along with oota and pour liberal quantity of melted hot ghee with hot rice, make a round ball and consume with relish.For an onlooker fromdifferent region it would like as if they are consuming fire. Aavakaya is also taken as a side dish to enhance the taste of the main dish.The main dish of Mudda pappu with rice and ghee tastes heavenly with the aavakaya pickle as a side dish. Curd rice with aavakaya is a great combination. Aavakaya pickle is also taken as a side dish forIddli,dosa,Dibbarotti,and uppupindi. Aavakaya tastes fabulous within three months of its preparation (during this period it is fondly called Kothavakaya)and after that it slowly loses its zing.

Jaadeelu

The story of Jaadi

It is a wonder how jaadis emerged into our life and culture and ultimately settled as containers to our traditional pickles and other food items.In the early days all the pickles, curds, ghee etc are stored in earthen pots.I guess that During the British times they used to import chemicals in the glazed ceramic containers and after the consumption of the chemicals the empty porcelain jars are sold to the public. Because of their neutral nature people found them to be the ideal containers to use in place of earthen pots which are fragile in nature whereas porcelain containers are strong and heavy. The British standardised on the double colour of brown and white only to indicate that they contain chemicals and should be handle with care.With the popularity of these jars as a containers for various Indian food items,t hey are manufactured in India with the same colour combination for use in Indian market. These porcelain containers are subsequently acquired a native flavour and called as jaadis. Most of the jaadis I have seen carry the embossed inscription “Parrys”. Parrys is a famous British company established with its head office in Madras, the present Chennai,and the area near this company’s office even now known as Parrys corner. Subsequently Murugappa group acquired Parry and company. The porcelain division of Murugappa group stopped manufacture of Jaadis and are concentrating on bathroom porcelain utilities under brand name Parryware.

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Antique Glass Jar With Lid

This antique glass jar with lid shown in the picture has subtle curves, clean lines, with bulbous lid handle. The glass container is hard by nature, neutral on pallet and visually gives a relaxed feeling when looked at.The magnificent visibility is a great advantage to identify the contents quickly. This was purchased by my Grandfather Yenugu Krishna Murthy garu in the year 1916 and it is now 98 years old. Garu is a Telugu word used to address elders with respect. I have a lot of emotional attachment to this bottle as it is a companion to me for several years feeding me with variety of snacks.

 

Antique glass jar with lid- angle view

 

I lost my father at a young age and I grew up under the care of my mother and grandfather.Though I used to have my regular food from my mother and snacks like onion pakoda, banana bajji and an occasional sweet item Mysore paak, my heart is to crave for snacks like chocolates, biscuits and sweets. For such items the source is my grandfather. My grandfather’s room used to be very attractive for my young heart. There used to be a bed with high pillows,a writing table full of books,ink bottle with dipping pen, lots of books, an agarabatti (incense stick) stand in the shape of an elephant, a Rudraksha mala(a garland of Rudraksha prayer beads) brass and wooden cymbals for doing bhajan and a huge family portrait of Lord Shiva withwife Parvathi, sons Ganesh and Kumaraswamy, his vahanam Nandi and most interesting thing out of all itemsfor me is two cookie jars one  filled with Tapeswaram Kaja (a type of sweet made in town called Tapeswaram which is very famous in those days and even now for the sweet item Kaaja) and one filled with J.B Mangharam brand biscuits, chocolates and peppermints. My grandfather used to take biscuits along with his morning and evening coffee and used to chew peppermints during afternoon times when he used to feel his mouth was dry .Though he never used to take sweets he used to keep them for me and my sister and other children who used to visit us. Whenever we feel like having some snacks we used to go to his room and he used to give us biscuits peppermints and sweets. So my association with these glass jars are very pleasant and whenever I see these bottles I am immersed with nostalgic memories of my grandfather and his room.

 

Antique glass jar with lid-filled with Tapeswaram kaaja

 

Antique glass jar with lid- top view

 

Antique glass jar with “SGF” letters within diamond mark and ” MADE IN JAPAN “ inscription

 

It is also interesting how he got these beautiful bottles.Those were the days of British rule in India and some of the pockets like Yanam in present Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry in present Tamil Nadu state were French colonies.My village Someswaram is around 40 miles from Yanam. French used to do their own trading and the foreign shipments used to come to Yanam which has a moderate port. Thehawkers from the villages around Yanam used to smuggle interesting items and sell them in nearby villages carrying them in bamboo basket held on their head. They used to come to our village also and used to come to our house being a regular customer. During one of such visits they brought these beautiful glass jars and my grandfather fell in love with these cute jars at first sight and purchased them.

The imposing antique glass jar   has a stamp embossed on the body as “SGF” with a diamond design around it .Down the diamond design are embossed letters in capital reading as  “ MADE IN JAPAN “. The word SGF stands for the company that manufactured this jar and obviously made in Japan. The lid also has embossed inscription “MADE IN JAPAN”. 

 

Antique glass jar with lid in inclined position

 

Antique glass jar without lid

 

Lid design- showing collar groves lid handle design with knob on the top

 

The antique glass jar with lid is round Barrel shaped with 6 inches diameter of the barrel and height of 7.5 inches. With the lid it is 9 inches high. The barrel narrows into a neck with an opening of 5 inches diameter at the mouth of the neck. There is a beautifully designed lid to the bottle which fits into the bottle by friction.The neck of the bottle is1.5 inches high and the collar of the lid is one inch high which snuggly fits into the neck of the bottle.There are fine grooves on the surface of the collar which help to have a tight grip and prevent insects.It is almost air tight. There is a beautifully designed knob on the lid with embossed pattern which serves as a grip and decorative appeal. The bottle has vertical mould seems running from top to the bottom of the glass indicating that the glass jar is made with machines around 1915. The handmade blown glass jars will not have the mould seems.

How glass Jars are made?

 

Glass is made out of sand(silica or quartz), lime stone(calcium) and soda ash. The mixture of these 3 components along with small amounts of ferric oxide, aluminium oxide, sulphur trioxide, barium oxide, magnesia are put is a gas furnace and heated up to 160 degrees centigrade. In some cases boric oxide is added to increase the durability and strength and lead is added for brilliance. The ingredients mix and melt and form into hot glowing molten glass. Normally the furnace runs for 15 years non-stop .With the help of automatic shears the running molten glass is cut into blobs known as “gobs”. The gobs are pushed down into the shape forming machine and the glass is moulded. Air is blown into the moulded glass so as to fit into the mould completely thus forming a jar shape. This partially shaped jar is called “parison”. The final shape of the Jar is done by passing on the Parison to another “blow mould” where air is blown into to get the final required jar shape. Then to make the jar tough and scratch proof, cool air is blown over it and then the jar is coated. The jar is further strengthened by passing it through an oven which is called “Lehr” and by heating it up to 550 degree centigrade.

 

Glass jar with lid is used as Store counter canister to display biscuits in an Iranian restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Made in Japan“ inscription on the lid

 

Multiple Uses of Glass bottle

This antique majestic glass jar can be used for storing and displaying many items. This wonderful see-through container with lid is used as Store counter canister to display prominently. This classic jar is a timeless piece that can be used in any room of the house. This can be used to store sugar, flour, candy, cookies, coffee, tea and snacks and many more. They make excellent cookie jars.  This can be used as a hobby jar to keep items like ribbons and wool which stay clean and dry. Ideal for display, in sweet shop that will give the shop an antique touch. The Iranian restaurants in Hyderabad and Mumbai used to keep their famous osmania biscuits in similar jars for counter display and to keep them fresh. These osmania biscuits go well with the Irani Chai (Tea). Any tourist visit to Hyderabad is not complete without tasting Osmania biscuits with Irani chai and Hyderabadi dum biryani in the Iranian restaurants for which Hyderabad is famous.

Types of glass

There are two types of glass production sheet production and container production. Jar and Bottle manufacturing is a part of Glass container production. The modern glass production uses machines while traditional glass making is done by glass-blowing and blow-moulding. Even now for creative art work and custom designed objects, glass blowing methods are used. Containers such as jars, bottles, tumblers, wine glasses, and bowls are made out of container glass. Glass items like window glass, glass doors, and transparent walls like in show cases are made out of Flat glass. Glass fibre is also made out of glass which is used for thermal insulation, fibre glass material and optical communication.

 

The lid fits tightly into the mouth of the jar- air tight

 

Grooves on the collar of the lid

 

 

How to find the antiquity of glass Jars

The antique jars will give certain clues and specific characteristics by which one can find out the time when the jar is made.

v  All the jars made before 1860 can be identified by their Pontil scar. The glass blower used to hold the hot jar with a devise called pontil rod to protect himself while the jar is in making. This pontil rod leaves a dark indentation mark or a ring of glass on the base of the jar.

v  The glass jars made before 1915 do not have mould seems since they were not using mould to make the jars.The jars made after 1915 were made with machines with moulding technique have mould seams in the form of a line running from top of the jar to the bottom of the jar.So if the jar has mould marks it is made after 1915.

v  If you find scratches and scars on the bottom side of the glass jar,it was most probably made before 1915 by hand and not by mould. The jars made by mould will contain uniform marks.The handmade jars will have rough surface and seems around it.

How Glass gets its colour

The colouring of the glass is both a science and art.The natural glass has inherent shades of green tint, aqua, and light blue. These colours are produced by the iron content in the ingredients that used in the making of glass.Some ingredients are added to alter the natural inherent colours like manganese for purple; selenium for red, pink; cobalt for rich blue. Different host of colours can be produced by adding several elements used to colour the glass.

Use of glass in high technology products

Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) glass plates are used as components in products such as computer monitors, mobile smart phones,note books,tablets,television screens,microwave display panel.The latest wearable computer  “Google Glass”like a pair of eyeglasses contains a small glass LCD display panel and the main frame is made out of titanium and quality plastic for a lighter weight.

Some Interesting facts about glass

 

v  Decorative beads were made with glass as early as 12,000 BC by Egyptians.

v  The amount of iron and other colouring agents in the mixture determine the colour of the glass.

v  Up to 300 tonnes of glass can be produced by a single furnace.

v  Every year 1.4 million tonnes of used-glass is transported for land filling. 4.2 billion Jars and bottles can be manufactured if the same glass is recycled or reused.

v  You can recycle glass infinite number of times without the loss of quality.

v  In the year 2003, the recycled quantity of glass is 8, 90,000 tonnes.  2.7 billion Jars and bottles can be made with this amount of glass.

v  The energy saved by recycling one single bottle can power one television for 1.5 hours.

 

 

To know about milk glass, the discovery of glass and many more aspects of the glass please click on this link http://ykantiques.com/2013/12/vintage-milk-glass-tumbler.html

 

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Thondi – The Copper Pot For Water

 

Thondi is a copper or brass pot that is used for drawing water from the well. The Thondi shown in the picture is hand made out of copper. Few decades ago when the expanding cities and towns did not have running water through pipe lines and there were no overhead water tanks to collect water by opening few valves., the main source for collecting water are wells.To collect and store water,people were using various vesselsmade out of mostly clay, brass and copper. They used to have different sizes and shapes for various utility functions of fetching and storing water. In order to stand the rugged usage of drawing water from the well, Thondi is invariably made out of copper or brass. The Thondi is used only by the orthodox Brahmins in south India who would use it from the dedicated wells meant to be used only by orthodox Brahmins.

In order to draw water from the well, one end of the rope is tied to the narrow neck of the Thondi, and lowered into the water and with dexterous movements of the rope with the hand the Thondi is coaxed to get immersed in the water. The water filled Thondi is pulled out using the other end of the rope. The water filled Thondi is then carried home by women by tucking one side of the Thondi between the hip and waist and the other side by the firm grip of the arm around the body. There is to be separate timings for men and women to draw water. The men chant their prayers while drawing the water and other holy chanting like Mantrapushpam. The men used to carry the Thondi on their head held in position by the hands or on shoulder with one arm gripping the Thondi. Thondi is a Tamil word and in Telugu it is known as Koojabindi. “Todi” in Tamil means drawing water. The vessel used for Todi is called Thondi.

 

Copper Thondi – with large belly, narrow neck and tapering mouth

 

Copper Thondi shown in inclined position

 

Copper Thondi top view

 

This particular copper Thondi shown in the picture has a story.That was the year 1948.The backdrop is Kotthurpuram suburb near Adyar in Madras,the present day Chennai. My father- in-law Machiraju Bhaskar Rao garu got a job as Sub-Divisional officer in PWD (Public Works Department) of Madras State, which included the present day state of Andhra Pradesh also. My father-law- is a core Andhra Brahmin from konaseema area of Andhra Pradesh. With the appointment orders in hand ,he shifted to Madras, with his wife, 3 kids and his orthodox mother, Pallammagaru, and taken a rented house in Kotthurpuram. The Kotthurpuram those days is a typical Brahmin Agraharam where most of the staunch Tamil Brahmins live. Kotthurpuram did not have Madras corporation supply of piped water and the locals depend on the wells for water. Kotthurpuram used to have common wells one for each group of 5 or 6 houses. The families draw the water from the wells and carry them to store in their home in large brass vessels. There used to be dedicated wells for Brahmin community where the water is allowed to draw by using Thondi only. The buckets are considered unhygienic and were not allowed to use for drawing water. Washing and cleaning the vessels are not allowed at these wells. The other wells dedicated to other communities water can be drawn bysteel buckets or by using other devices. Washing cloths and cleaning vessels are also allowed at these wells.The orthodox Brahmin families patronise a particular well and will not allow other communities to draw water for the same well. There is also the dictum that the people should use only Thondi for drawing water and other devices like buckets are not allowed.

 

A priest drawing water from the temple well with Thondi for abhishekam

 

A priest drawing water from the temple well with rope and pulley arrangement.

 

Thondi with water-drawing out of a house well with a rope

 

On the day of arrival to Kotthurpuram, Pallammagaru went to the community well meant for orthodox Brahmins equipped with a bucket and a rope made out of dry coconut husk. She was a widow and as per the custom in those days she had a shaven head and used to wear a plain white cotton sari covering her shaved head and tucked in the two earlobes. The Brahmin community welcomed the orthodox looking new lady in to their community but refused to allow her to draw water with the bucket. Pallammagaru returned home and insisted that my father-in-law to get her a copper Thondi immediately. My father-in-law applied for a half a day leave and rushed to the market and returned with this beautifully looking copper Thondi. This Thondi is used there after by pallammagaru to fetch MadiNeellu(the water fetched after observing thorough hygiene like taking head bath and wearing clothes that are washed and untouched by others). MadiNeellu are used for pooja purpose and for cooking.I was told that Pallammagaru once corrected the Mantrapushpam recital of a Tamil Brahmine and the well community were surprised at the knowledge of the Telugu widow and there after her image and prestige in the community got elevated. For the general purpose water, Pallammagaru used to draw the water from the well and Satyavathigaru used to carry the water to the house. The Thondi is 66 years old. After Pallammagaru demise, the Thondi has come into the custody of my mother-in-law, Machiraju Satyavathi garu and after her passing away in the year 1993,this lovely Thondi was inherited by my wife, Ramana and is there in our house ever since.Now it is a proud piece of antique in my collection.

 

Copper Thondi- jointing done by hand in a beautiful design around the belly

 

Copper Thondi- bottom plate joint hand made with artistic circular design

 

The design of the Thondi is unique. It has a large belly to hold the water and a narrow neck to regulate out flow of water. The neck flares up to a wide mouth with a rim around the mouth. The narrow neck is also useful to tie the rope around the neck and the slippage is prevented by the belly at one side and the wide mouth opening on the other side. The rounded belly shape snuggly fits into the curve of the female waist. The whole Thondi is handmade and the joints are made so beautiful to look like a design. It has a curvy bottom so that it can be smoothly tilted to pour water into a tumbler for drinking purpose. The entire Thondi is conveniently designed to draw water, carry water and to store water. A real multipurpose grand vessel.

The dug well: The hand dug wells are known to have existed since ancient times.Wells are the basic source of water in most of the towns and villages. Most of the wealthy families have their own private wells and the others use the community wells. Most of these wells are hand dug wells.to dig a well, soil is excavated in round shape like a tunnel into the earth till the water source is found and further 6to 7 feet deep down from the water table.The entire surface of the tunnel will be lined with stones or bricks so that the soil around the tunnel do not slip into the water. After invention of cement,it became a practice to line the tunnel with pre-casted well rings made out of cement which are lowered into the well one over the other. The lining will be extended above the surface up to 3o 4 feet to form a wall around the well to prevent animals and humans from falling into the well by accident.This will also prevents from surrounding  water entering the well from the land around. Some of the hand dug wells have a pulley system to draw water with comfort.

 

Step well- admire the intricate pattern of the steps leading to water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The step wells: Step wells are large intricately designed structures with convenient steps from the upper level of the ground sloping down till the level of the water body. These are architectural marvels.People with water pots can step down till the water source and climb back with the water.The step wells are more prevalent in the western part of Indian states like Gujarat and Rajastan. I have also seen a beautiful step well in Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna and also in the heritage site of Hampi, the once upon capital of the great Vijayanagara empire. In summer hot days, people go and sit near the water body on the steps for cool ambience. Step wells are centres for social gathering where people meet in the evenings and exchange local news and gossip. The step wells were known to have existed since Neolithic period. There are step wells discovered in Cyprus belonging to 7,500 BC andin Israel belonging to 6,500 BC.

For further reading on copper pots for water please click on the below link:

http://ykantiques.com/2013/06/antique-copper-water-storage-pot-pani-ka-ghada.html

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Antique Brass Kindi: Lota With A Spout

 

 

 

 

Kindi is a type of Indian lota or chambu with a spout mostly used in kerala state, India, as a multipurpose vessel.It is used as a water dispenser for various pooja rituals and daily ablutions. Kindi like vessel with spout is also used in Andhra Pradesh and is called KommuChambu. Similar kindis are used in north India with a handle and is called kamandalam. The kindi is said to have existed since the dawn of the civilisation to store and carry water from place to place. The primitive kindi is made with clay and as the civilisation progressed, kindis are made with metals like brass, bronze, copper, silver and even gold and in various sizes. The smallest size one normally made either with silver or gold is used for ritual pooja and the larger ones generally made out of brass or bronze are used for daily ablutions.

I have collected 2 beautiful kindis as shown in the picture. The large kindi is made with brass and the small one with copper.

Brass kindi showing base, big belly, curved neck, wide mouth and a spout

 

 

The antique brass Kindi: This kindi has a wonderful shape with a bottom rim for support, a large bellyto hold water, a smoothly curved neck and a wide mouth on the top of the neck to receivethe water. There is a concave curved spout attached to the belly with a ring around the hole of the spout to protect the whole from accidental damage.The wide mouth has a sloping grip ring which is designed to carry the kindi with the five fingers. There is embossed ring around the base of the neck. There are parallel line designs around the large belly that arehandmade. The belly is filled up with water poured from the open mouth and water is dispensed through the hole of the spout. I have purchased this lovely kindi from RASI silk house, a reputed shop near Kapaleswara temple, Mylapore, Chennai, in the year 1994who used to sell rare antiques along with classical silk saris and dress material.

 

Copper kindi showing the base, small belly, straight neck, tapered mouth and the spout

 

The antique copper Kindi: This cute copper kindi has different design. It has a larger straight neck than the belly.The neck opening is flared at the top.There is a grip ring just below the flared neck opening. The  spout has a convex curve.There is an embossed ring joining the belly and the neck. This pretty copper kindi is gifted to me by my colleague from Kerala by name Subramani in the year 1984.I was told that his grandfather was using this kindi for pooja and abhishekam purpose.

The design of Kindi: The shape of the kindi is designed to minimise the wastage of water.The narrow spout opening will dispense water that is just required for the purpose like washing feet, hand and drinking without any spillage or loss. Its design is such that water will not get contaminated as the fingers will never touch the water when the kindi is used.

Brass kindi showing slip ring attached to the mouth and embossed ring joining belly and neck

 

The multiple uses of Kndi

VellaKindi:  VellaKindi is used for storing and drinking water. It is a common practice in traditional south Indian families few decades ago to keep a kindi filled with water at the entrance of the house on the first step. The traditional houses used to have in the front an elevated plat form on both sides of the steps leading to the entrance called Arugu in Telugu and Arukkanchatti in Malayalam. VellaKindi is placed on the first stepand the guest is expected to wash his feet, hands and face with the water from the kindi. Thereafter the guest would sit on the Arugu and drink the water from the protruding spout  of the same kindi. In certain communities like south Indian Brahmins, they practice a hygienic tradition called yengily in Telugu and Echai in Tamil in which the person while drinking water should not touch the vessel with his lips. If it touches the lips, the content of the vessel becomes impure for consumption by other person. Kindi is designed to beat this practice since the spout helps to take water from the vessel without touching the lips. Thus it is convenient to have multiple people have the water from the same kindi. Kindi is also used to clean the hands after taking the meals.

 

Copper kindi in inclined position

 

Copper kindi with top view

 

Pooja kindi: Pooja kindi is used for Hindu ceremonial prayer known as pooja. Kindi is a must in most of the communities in Kerala particularly in Namboodri and Nair communities. The kindi is used to perform abhishekam to idols by pouring water or milk on the deities through the spout of the kindi. The same kindi is used for giving theertam to devotees after the pooja. For achamanam ritual (drinking small quantities of water during pooja) people in the other regions use uddarini and panchapatram for using small quantity of water but kindi is used in place of Uddarini in kerala. Udharani is also used in the pooja ritual of Arghyam, and Sandhya. Uddarini is also used to distribute holy water as prasadam to devotees.

In Kerala, Kindi is an integral part of any religious ritual. It is a tradition in Nair families that the bride should bring one kindi along with the utensils she brings to her new family after the marriage. It is a traditional practice to gift the new bride with a set of seven vessels called Ezhupaatram comprising of the inevitable kindi, Kuthuvilakku (oil lamp), Thambalam, Kolambi(spittoon) and assorted plates in brass or bronze.

 

Brass kindi with rear side view notice the parallel line design on the belly

 

Brass kindi showing spout and spout hole

 

Brass kindi with top view- notice the wide mouth to pour in water and spout hole to dispense water out

 

The oil Kindi: Herbal oil is used during the Ayurvedic treatment for oil massages. Kindi is invariably used to pour the oil on the massaged body.The quantity of the oil required can be controlled by the movement of the wrist when pouring oil through the spout of the Kindi. Kindi is so convenient that the poring can be handled by one hand with precision while the second is used to spread the oil on the body.

Kindi for ceremonies: The Hindu marriage ceremony is actually called Kanyadanam, meaning gifting a virgin girl.The bride groom is considered as Maha Vishnu and the father of the bride gifts his daughter to the groom by washing his feet with water and giving a coconut to the groom as a symbol of giving his daughter.For washing the feet of the groom kindi is used as a tradition. In annual death ceremonies of the departed elders known as Shraddha, it is a tradition to use Kindi for washing the Brahmin’s feet that are considered as Devas and Pitrs.

The story of Sukracharya and kindi: There is a famous story in puranas depicting how Sukracharya, the guru of asuras, lost his eye due to blocking the hole of a kindi. Bali is a great asura king and he has conquered both the earth and the heavens and thrown Indra out from his kingdom of Devas. Indra prays to lord Vishnu to restore his kingdom. Lord Vishnu visits Bali in the form of a dwarf Brahmin called Vamana, asks for a boon of tripada (three feet lengh) of land and Bali grants the boon to Vishnu. It is a tradition that any boon granted should be accompanied with water as a witness to the granting. Sukracharya is against Bali granting boon to Vamana and hides himself in the hole of the spout of the Kindi to prevent water flowing out thus hampering the boon. Vamana takes a dharba grass and pierces the hole to dislodge Sukrachrya and in the process Sukracharya becomes blind in one eye. For complete story on Vamana and Bali and how Sukracharya lost his eye please read the article by clicking on the following link.

http://ykantiques.com/2013/08/antique-brass-and-copper-kamandalam.html

The evolution of Kindi: According to Vedic knowledge, the entire universe is the manifestation of panchabhuta in varying combinations dictated by cosmic laws. The panchabhuta, the five elements, are -earth, water, fire, air and ether. The panchabhuta are the basic elements that form the life force.Thus Hindus consider water as a basic life giving and sustaining force. Any element that is a life giving force should be pure and hence water is considered as pure and purifier.Water as a purifier has taken the vital role in all Hindu rituals and daily life. In India water is called Ganga devi elevating water to the divine status of goddess. Man from times immemorial has been creating vessels to carry the life giving water along with him to quench his thirst and to use for religious ceremonies. Starting from the earthen vessel, kindi has taken various forms of evolution and taken a central place in many of the houses few decades ago made out of Bell metal, brass, copper, silver and even gold.

Some attribute the origin of present Kindi to the cultural invasion by Arabs to the coast of Kerala in South India. They came to Kerala via sea route for trade and gradually settled in Kerala coast by marrying the locals.Now there exists a community called Mapalai literally meaning son-in-law who resemble Arabs and blended themselves into Malayali culture. It is a practice in Arab culture that they share food from common plate and drink water from a single jug. Indians use each separate plate for food coand separate vessel to drink water. One school of thought believes that it is Arabs who invented the Kindi. This vessel with a spout satisfied the cultural element of both societies in a way that water can be shared by all from the single vessel and at the same time the lips are not in contact with the water.

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Antique Brass Coffee Filter

Antique brass Coffee filter
Antique brass Coffee filter

 

I am one among those millions world over for whom a cup of freshly brewed hot coffee early in the morning is a heavenly delight. My coffee should be a South Indian filter coffee with fresh decoction taken from well roasted coffee beans with the right blend of chicory powder mixed with fresh hot foaming milk with a balanced mix of sugar. The first coffee in the morning is divine with the pleasant aroma giving a heady feeling.Without this golden brown brew stimulating the taste buds and the rest of the system,the daily routine will never be triggered.

To have that wonderful coffee,you need a thick fresh aromatic coffee decoction .There is a simple device called Coffee filter which gives you that miracle brown liquid called decoction. The decoction mixed with fresh hot milk and sugar makes an excellent south Indian coffee that is normally served in davara set that consists of one saucer like cup with a rim and a tumbler placed inside the davara. The beautiful antique brass coffee filter shown in the picture has served thousands of tumblers of coffee since more than 100 years and must have witnessed the grateful smiles of satisfied coffee lovers. I am really proud of having this most enchanting antique piece in my collection.

 

Complete coffee filter assembly- Lower chamber, upper chamber, lid and plunger.(The stainless steel plunger is not a part of the antique brass filter but shown as a model)
Complete coffee filter assembly- Lower chamber, upper chamber, lid and plunger.(The stainless steel plunger is not a part of the antique brass filter but shown as a model)

 

The Coffee filter set

The traditional South Indian coffee filter has two chambers that sits one over the other, a lid to cover the top chamber and a plunger. The top chamber has the perforations to allow the filtration to happen.The bottom chamber serves as a collection point of the decoction. Coffee powder is put into the perforated chamber, and the plunger is kept on top of the powder and pressed gently. The plunger is basically a convex disk with perforations and a pin that is welded vertically at the centre of the disk. The purpose of the pin is to lower the disk to sit on top of the coffee powder and to take it out when not required. Hot water is poured on the upper chamber and covered with the lid. The plunger ensures that the falling water do not make a hole in the coffee powder when poured from a height. The plunger takes the pressure of the water and distributes uniformly around the plunger. The hot water seeps into the coffee powder through the holes in the plunger. Over the time, the coffee gets brewed and the decoction percolates to the lower chamber drip by drip carrying the essence and the aroma of the coffee powder. The decoction collected from the first drips mixed with fresh thick milk with adequate sugar makes the perfect coffee and I know people who wake up early in the mornings only to sip this wonderful coffee.  Coffee is the motivation for most of the South Indians to get up early in the morning.

The precious gift

Shrimathi Saraswathi garu and Sri Venkatappayya garu
Shrimathi Saraswathi garu and Sri Venkatappayya garu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This beautiful brass antique coffee filter set was gifted to me by Shrimathi Janaswami Saraswathi garu (“garu” is the respectful way of addressing elders in Andhra Pradesh). Saraswathi garu and her husband Janaswami Venkatappayya garu are closely related to us through our niece Vani. Vani is the daughter of my brother-in-law Machraju Purushothama Rao and his wife Machiraju Parvathi. We used to have frequent mutual visits with Janaswami family   while we were in Mumbai. Saraswathi garu was heading a reputed school in Mumbai and Venkatappayya garu was a general manager of Canara bank. Subsequently we settled in Hyderabad and by a pleasant coincidence they have also shifted to Hyderabad and our frequent visits continued.She used to encourage my antique collection and one fine day she gifted this antique brass coffee filter in the year 2006. I was told that the filter was passed on to  Saraswathi garu by her grandmother and it must be by any means more than100 years old.Those were the days the stainless steel has not yet invaded into domestic utilities and hence this filter is made of pure brass. Moreover, the coffee tastes at its best in brass filter and served in brass davara set. I am always grateful to this noble lady for her gracious gift.

 

Lower chamber, upper chamber with perforations and lid- top view
Lower chamber, upper chamber with perforations and lid- top view

 

My experience with coffee

My first experience with coffee was in the year 1950 prepared by my mother in our village Someswaram. My grandfather Shri Yenugu Krishna Murthy Garu is a connoisseur of coffee and he was one of those privileged people in the village to have coffee in those days .My grandfather used to buy coffee beans in bulk from the nearest town Rajahmundry and store them. My mother is to pick up one week’s consumption, roast them to a dark brown colour and pound them to a fine granular powder.Subsequently he used to buy fresh readymade powder. There were no metallic coffee filters available those days around my village. My mother used to keep coffee powder in a bronze tumbler and pour over it hot boiling water and keep a lid for brewing. Then she used to filter the brew through a fine cloth which would allow the fine decoction to filter down and arresting the residue. We used to call the process Gudda coffee (“gudda” means cloth in Telugu). My next taste of coffee is in Kakinada, Dwaraka Lunch Home in the year 1956. I did not know how it is made but there is nothing special to mention about it.

My first real filter coffee experience was at Madras (present day Chennai)in the year 1961.My sister and brother-in-law used to stay in West Mambalam, Madras, the core area for typical Tamil culture. My sister adapted quickly to Tamil culture, particularly to the early morning filter coffee and I had my first taste of filter coffee in my sister’s home. When I used to go for a stroll in the streets of Mambalam in the morning, the air was filled with aroma of freshly ground coffee and occasionally mixed with fragrance of jasmine flowers from the plaited hair of passing by women, with M.S Subbalakhmi rendering Venkateswara Suprabhatam in her melodious voice, the gents with “Hindu” newspaper sipping hot fresh filtered coffee.I cannot forget this nostalgic experience of my early days at Madras. Subsequently, I stayed in Chennai for 12 years from 1967 to 1973 and from 1983 to 1989. But by then the cultural romance has gone out of daily life.

 

Coffee davara set- saucer and tumbler
Coffee davara set- saucer and tumbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to prepare good south Indian filter coffee.

The taste and Aroma of the coffee comes from quality seeds like Pea berry, Plantation, Arabica and Robusta. You can also use the combination of these two verities of seeds to get the best out of the both seeds. The seeds have to be roasted to dark brown shade till they emit the deep aroma of the roasted coffee.The roasted seeds are to be grounded to granular powder neither too fine nor too rough.It is ideal to grind coffee powder just before the filtration by using the traditional hand grinding machine. Addition of Chicory is optional.Some people like to add chicory because it gives extra texture and colour to the coffee.Taste of the coffee also depends on the quality of water used and the milk.Ground water with lot of minerals,corporation water with too much of chlorination will spoil the taste of the coffee.Use good potable water for making decoction.The milk should be fresh and thick to get the real zing out of the coffee.In this occasion I should mention about the “Degree Coffee of KumbaKonam” which is very popular for its authentic south Indian filter coffee.In southern states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Coffee is affectionately called as “kaapi”. In Tamil Nadu hotels, restaurants and dairies buy milk from the vendors by testing the quality of the milk with a lactometer and the quality is rated in degrees.Hence any milk that measure up to the degree standard is called degree milk. In Kumbakonam, coffee is prepared with degree standard milk and hence it is called as “Kumbakonam degree coffee”.

 

Roasted coffee powder
Roasted coffee powder

 

Roasted coffee beans
Roasted coffee beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 How to prepare a good South Indian Filter coffee

1- Boil pure water(mineral water recommended) in a steel vessel.

2- fill the upper chamber of the coffee filter with fresh coffee powder depending on the size of the coffee filter and the number of coffee tumblers required.Minimum you should keep fourheaped tea spoon full of coffee powderif the filter is small and six if the filter is large. If you keep less,the water will just run away from the upper chamber without percolation. Even for single person there should be a minimum amount required.If the number of tumblers required is more additional coffee powder is to be added.

3- The coffee powder in the upper chamber should not be too loose or too tight. Just press the coffee powder with your fingers gently. If it is too loose hot water will just run through the powder without any percolation. If the powder is too tight the water settles down on top of the powder and will not percolate down and even if it does it takes lot of time.

4- Place the plunger on top of the coffee powder.

5- Place the upper chamber on the top of the lower chamber tightly.

6-Pour the boiling water on top of the plunger and keep the lid.

7- Keep aside the filter for 20 to 30 minutes for brewing. The decoction will be collected in the bottom chamber.

8- Boil the fresh degree milk in a stainless steel vessel.

9- Take the tumbler from the davara set, add 1/2 inch level  of filtered decoction, and add hot milk to the required strength of the coffee.If you want your coffee to be strong add less milk and for lighter coffee add more milk. Add sugar as per the taste. The proportion of milk to the decoction has to be experimented initially till you hit the required taste.

10- Hold the coffee tumbler in your right hand and the davara saucer in your left hand and start whisking the coffee from tumbler to saucer and saucer to tumbler in quick motions repeatedly for three or four times till a nice brown froth is collected by the aerated coffee. Take care not to spill the coffee in the process. By practice you develop the art of whisking the coffee.

11- Keep the coffee tumbler in the davara saucer and serve.

 

Processed green coffee beans
Processed green coffee beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The culture of Coffee Serving

The tradition of serving coffee in davara set started with the practice of echai(no contact with saliva) by orthodox Iyer and Iyengar and other Brahmin families of Tamil Nadu. With echai practice the tumbler should not touch the lips and hence they used to drink coffee by pouring directly into the mouth from a respectable distance. To regulate the heat of the coffee to avoid the burning of the mouth, the saucer is used to cool the coffee till right temperature is arrived.Then the coffee is transferred to the tumbler and then to the mouth. The davara saucer is also used to whisk the coffee into the tumbler and vice versa to aerate and achieve the right temperature.

It is a tradition in Tamil Nadu to offer coffee to the guests. The coffee should be a filtered coffee served very hot. It is considered as bad manners if you serve cold or staple coffee and there are chances that the guests will get offended.

In some traditional families the coffee filter should be brass (not stainless steel) and served in brass davaa set. The well maintained brass items shine like gold and brass is considered as Laksmipradam (equivalent to goddess Lakshmi). In some well to do Tamil families, they also use silver coffee filter and silver davara set. As a mark of respect, most Tamil families offer the coffee made out of the first collection of the decoction to the elders of the families.

 

Coffee plant with coffee berries
Coffee plant with coffee berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Modern coffee house sand coffee bars.

Time has its own magical effect on people.Things have changed.Now with NRI culture huge coffee mugs have taken the place of good old davara sets. The convenience of instant coffee has taken upper hand over the time consuming filtered coffee.The beautiful coffee filters have become a collector’s items.

Now, the youngsters prefer the modern coffee houses that sprang in all cities and towns.These places are trendy lounges where people can sit leisurely and sip mugs and mugs of coffee with friends or with laptops in front .Drinking coffee in joints like Cafe Coffee Day,Barista,Costa coffee, cafe Mocha and Starbucks is all about cooling with friends and catching up social get-together.Coffee today signifies bonding and great reason to spend time with people you like.Inthese up market cafes you get variety of coffee selections with really magical names.I have tried some of these coffee menu and I am sure you may also would like to try if not already done.

Expresso: Expresso is a strong black coffee made by forcing steam through dark- roast aromatic coffee beans at high pressure. A perfectly brewed expresso will have a thick, golden brown foam on the surface. Adding a dollop of steamed milk completes the drink.

Cappuccino: A Cappuccino is a combination of equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk froth. This luxurious drink, if made properly, can double up as a desert with its complex flavours and richness.It is common to sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder or grated dark chocolate.Iced Cappuccino makes a great summer drink.

Americano: An Americano is a single shot of expresso added to a cup of hot water. Many coffee houses have perfected this brew which is a creamy, rich coffee that one can savour.Get the maximum flavour from your Americanoby keeping the amount of milkto a minimum.

Caffe Latte: This is a single shot of expresso mixed with three parts of steamed milk.Pair this with cookies,sponge cakes and even Italian bread for a unique and satisfying breakfast.

Caffe Mocha (Mochachino):This is Cappuccino or Caffe Latte with either chocolate syrup or powdered chocolate.This versatile drink can be made in several ways.Add cocoa powder or grated chocolate for flavour and garnish with whipped cream to make it more delish.

Caramel Macchiato: The most common method of making caramel maccciato is by combining espresso,carameland foamed milk.Steamed milk is usedsometimes and vanilla is often added for extra flavour. You can add sugar as well,but be warned, the drink is already sweet as it is.A caramel sauce topping makes it all the more lip-smacking.

Long Black: As the name suggests,this is a cup of rich-bodied black coffee,and black coffee alone.It is usually made by topping a single shot of espresso with a cup of hot water,with or without sugar.

Flat White: This is ideal for those who enjoy the strength of cappuccino,but not the foam that goes with it.To make a flat white,simply top up an espresso with steamed milk,but make sure that you only add the milk and not the foam.

 

Coffee plantation- Coffee plants grow under the shade of trees
Coffee plantation- Coffee plants grow under the shade of trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coffee plant with flowers
Coffee plant with flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story  of coffee- How it is discovered

I will not be doing justice to this article if we do not appreciate how this wonderful drink is discovered and passed on to our generation for us to enjoy and admire. I read from Wikipedia that a goat-herder discovered this coffee plant and the story goes like this

“ A 9th-century Ethiopian goat-herder, Kaldi, who, noticing the energizing effects when his flock nibbled on the bright red berries of a certain bush, chewed on the fruit himself. His exhilaration prompted him to bring the berries to a Monk in a nearby monastery. But the monk disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire, from which an enticing aroma billowed and the monks came out to investigate. The roasted beans were quickly raked from the embers, ground up and dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee. The story is first known to appear in writing in 1671, and thus may be fanciful.

 

Filter assembly- Lower chamber,upper chamber with perforations and lid
Filter assembly- Lower chamber,upper chamber with perforations and lid
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Vintage Ugadi Vendi Ginni (Silver bowl)

Vintage Ugadi Vendi Ginni
Vintage Ugadi Vendi Ginni

 

 

 

 

 

 

This vintage silver bowl is used for keeping the Ugadi pachhadi the traditional chutney prepared every year for Ugadi festival. We used to call this vintage bowl as Vendi Mattu Ginni meaning the silver bowl with Mattu, a type of supporting ring under the bowl. This vintage silver Mattu Ginni is used only for two occasions. Firstly, to hold and serve Ugadi chutney every year and secondly to serve curds whenever we have a special guest or ceremonial meals on festive and religious occasions. The rest of the time this beautiful silver bowl is kept in the wooden cupboard in the bedroom. For each occasion, my mother used to take out the Mattu Ginni from the locked cupboard clean it with white lime powder domestically made with sea shells called gulla muggu. If the sea shell powder is exhausted, until the fresh lot of sea shells arrive, my mother used to make lime powder by crushing the lime stone called raati muggu. At any cost the silver bowl has to be cleaned with natural lime powder only. Once in a while, the vendimattuginni is given to our only trusted gold smith, Somasekharam, for polishing. After polishing he is to return the precious silver bow to my mother wrapped in a pink colour paper to make it look like an almost new one. 

Antique silver Vendi Mattu Ginni top view
Antique silver Vendi Mattu Ginni top view

 

The antique VendiMattuGinni has a great history. My paternal grandfather, Yenugu Krishna Murthy garu (garu is a respectful way of addressing elders in Andhra) has started the only school in our village Someswaram, in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh when he was around 18 years age. The school started with few students has grown up to a large educational institute and was later taken over by the government. He served the school as a head master till he retired in the year 1944. His retirement was an emotional and touchy occasion to my grandfather as well as to the entire village. On this occasion the students collectively presented this enchanting silver bowl to my grandfather. It is inscribed on the back of the antique bowl as “Sri Sishya Sangham Ye.Kru.gariki samarpinchinadi.12-11-44”. Meaning that the bowl was gifted to Shree Yenugu Krishnamurthy, by the Disciples Association on the day, dated November 12, 1944. He served as a teacher for 40 years and the entire village used to address him as “Mastarugaru” meaning “teacher sir” and not by his name. Our family has a great emotional and esteem value for this antique silver Mattuginni. That is why it is used only for the Ugadi pachhadi which is a new year for Telugu community and is celebrated with great religious fervour.

Back side of the silver bowl with inscription of gift details
Back side of the silver bowl with inscription of gift details

 

 

During my younger days Ugadi festival means, the inevitable oil bath early in the morning, prayer to our family deity and tasting the Ugadi chutney kept ready by my mother in the silver bowl. I used to run away from my mother to avoid the chutney since it used to be more bitter than sweetish. My mother would catch hold of me and put a spoonful of pachhadi in our palm and ask us to swallow. I used to close my eyes and manage to swallow the chutney with a puckered face. In order to keep me happy on a festive day my mother is to reward me with a piece of new jaggery and I used to tuck the piece in between the cheek and tongue and run away from the scene. Later I used to take a raw mango, cut into pieces, sprinkle red chilli powder and salt and eat it along with the saliva that already sprang out while we cut the raw mango. It is on later days that we understood the significance of eating the Ugadi chutney with its varied and mixed tastes. I subsequently started taking the once-in-a-year dish with enlightened attitude, reverence and started enjoying the mixed variety of tastes.

Shree Yenugu Krishna Murthy Garu,to whom the silver mattuginni is gifted.
My grandfather Shri. Yenugu Krishnamurthy to whom the mattuginni is gifted
Vintage silver Vendi mattuginni with Ugadi Pachhadi
Vintage silver Vendi mattuginni with Ugadi Pachhadi

 

When is Ugadi Celebrated?

The word Ugadi comes from the Sanskrit word”YUgadi” “Yuga” means age and refers to the age we are living in now called Kali Yuga. “Adi” means beginning. Hence YUgadi means beginning of the new Yuga or new age or era.The new Yuga is the current running Kali Yuga which started following the death of Lord Krishna who belongs to Dwapara Yuga. According to the scriptures the death of Lord Krishna took place on 17th February 3102 BC,Kali Yuga started from the mid night of 17/18 of 3120. Ugadi festival denotes the New Year day for the people of South of India between Vindhya Mountains and Kaveri River covering the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa who follow Lunar calendar.

YUgadi or Ugadi, Samvatsaradi are all meaning same thing denoting new year. Hindu Calendar which is Luni- solar in nature has a cycle of 60 years and each year has a unique name. Each year is subdivided into 12 months and each month has a name. On completion of 60 years the Hindu calendar starts again with the first name. The Hindu calendar has two version called Suryamana and chandramana. In Suryamana the calendar is worked out basing on the movement of the Sun and in Chandramana basing on the movement of moon. Generally Hindus from the north of India ( India that is north of Vindhya mountains ) follow Suryamana and the Hindus from South India (India that is South of Vindhya Mountains) follow Chandramana. Hindus follow Saka calendar known as Panchangam which begins with the month of Chaitra, and Ugadi is the first day of Chaitra masam which falls in the English calendar March-April. Hindus who follow Chandramana, observe the newyear on the first day of Chaitra Masa and those who follow Suryamana, the new year comes two weeks after first day of Chaitra Masa. This is why Hindu New Year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year.

It is called Ugadi in Telugu and Kannada, the people of Maharashtra call this festival Gudi Padwa. This Hindu New Year is celebrated by Marwaris of Rajasthan as Thapna, Sindhis as Cheti Chand, Manipuris as Sajibunongmapanba. The people of Tamil Nadu celebrate the New Year festival as Puthandu, Punjabis as Baisakhi, and people of Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh as Seri Saja and West Bengalis as Pohela Boishakh.

Ugadi is also celebrated by the Hindus of the countries of Mauritius, Bali and Indonesia as New Year by name Nyepi. The Hindu calendar has spread to the other countries due to common rule under Satavahana Dynasty.

The Hindu Shaka almanac starts with the date on which the great Shalivahana Empire was started and hence is called Salivahana Shaka. The king Satavahana also identified as Shalivahana and Gautamiputra Satakarni is known to have started the Shalivahana Era which corresponds to 78 AD of Christian Era.

Various ingredients of the Ugadi pachhadi
Various ingredients of the Ugadi pachhadi

 

 

 

Significance of Ugadi day

According to Hindus, Lord Brahma started creation on the day of Ugadiie. Chaitra Suddha Padhyami. The beginning of vasantha rutu, the spring season also coincides with Ugadi when the nature is in full bloom and the new life takes place justifying the beginning of new year with new hope and signifying prosperity and growth.

The pandits prepare new panchangam, the yearly calendar and read it for the people of the village for them to have a glimpse of the life to come in the new year. This ceremony called Panchanga Sravanam is done in the temple or under the tree at the centre of the village. The major predictions will be the rains for the year in which the villagers were very much interested in for the crops for the year on which their prosperity is depended. Also the major predictions are the solar and Lunar eclipses known as Grahanam.

On the day of Ugadi the people clean in front of the houses by splashing cow dung water and decorate with colourful rangoli known as muggulu made with lime powder or chalk powder or with rice powder. The main doorway called Simha dwaram is decorated with mango leaves and flowers. Then they take traditional bath called Abhyangana Snanam where in Til oil (sesame seed oil) is applied to the body and head and washed off with a paste made out of herbal powder called Nalugupindi. The oil from the head is washed off with soap-nut solution (herbal shampoo). Then they pray to their family deity and wear new cloths.After this purification they take Ugaadi Pachhadi, the special chutney prepared for this day with ingredients that produce 6 different tastes.

 

Vintage silver bowl with Ugadi Pachhadi showing neem flowers and other ingredients.
Vintage silver bowl with Ugadi Pachhadi showing neem flowers and other ingredients.

 

The significance of Ugadi Pachhadi

 

Ugadi pachhadi denotes a great philosophy of life, in life we experience various emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, bitterness and we should take all experiences, pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad in a balanced way. Similarly Ugadi chutney consists of 6 varieties of ingredients that have six distinct tastes called Shadruchulu-some pleasant and some unpleasant. Tasting of Ugadi chutney on new year’s day remind us that life is a mixture of different experiences and we should accept and take them in a positive attitude. The Ugadi Chutney consists of the following special ingredients that produce the unique characteristic tastes-

 

Fresh Neem tree (margosa) flowers : for bitterness

New jaggery : for sweetness

Green chillies or black pepper :for spicy and hot taste

Salt : for salty taste

New tamarind juice: for sour taste

New crop of unripe mango: for the tangy taste.

 

Each taste is associated with different emotions in our behaviour.

Bitterness is associated with Sadness

Sweetness is associated with Happiness

Spicy hot taste  is associated with Anger 

Salty taste  is associated with Fear 

Sour taste  is associated with Disgust

Tangy taste  is associated with Surprise

 

The Ugadi chutney made with different tastes should be recognised in the spirit of equanimity to lead a balanced and composed life. It denotes the fact that life is a mixture of different emotions and experiences and all should be taken in the same spirit. The Udadi pachhadi is a symbolic taste of Different flavours of life that need to be harmonized and balanced to lead a healthy and happy life.

 

The ingredients- Neem flowers, raw mango, tamarind, green chillies, jaggery, sugarcane, ripe banana and others
The ingredients- Neem flowers, raw mango, tamarind, green chillies, jaggery, sugarcane, ripe banana and others

 

How to prepare Delicious Ugadi Pachhadi

The ingredients

1 table spoon-Neem tree flowers (Vepapuvvulu, Margosa flowers)

3 table spoons –fresh mango cut into small pieces with skin.

3 table spoons –grated freshly made  jaggery

1 table spoon- finely chopped coconut pieces.

3 table spoons-fresh tamarind paste

6 inches long sugar cane peeled and finely cut pieces.

1  ripe banana paste

1 inch long green chilly finely chopped or few black peppers

Powdered salt to taste.

Preparation.

Keep all the ingredients in a porcelain or stainless steel bowl and mix all of them with the hand to form a gravy or sauce like consistency. If you like the chutney to be liquid you can add little bit of water till the required consistency is achieved. The traditional way of tasting this pachhadi is by eating with the hand. Take one table spoon full of pachhadi into the cup of your palm and put into the mouth just like you take the prasadam from a temple priest.The right way to taste the pachhadi is to keep it in the mouth for some time so that the tastes of various ingredients are experienced in the mouth and allow the saliva flow into the mouth. Bite and chew the cut pieces of mango, sugarcane, coconut, neem flowers and swallow the mixture slowly. The ceremonial way of tasting the Ugadi pachhadi is one way of having a family get together on the festive occasion and share the experiences of each on the taste of the chutney. The Ugadi Pachhadi has a lot of medicinal properties with herbs like neem and other ingredients like raw mango, new jaggery and tamarind containing properties that clean our system and serve as prophylactics (prevention of disease).May be the tradition of eating Ugadi pachhadi in the beginning of the year has inherent system of preventive medication to face the changing seasons

 

 

 

 

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Diyas

Diwali, the festival of light. The best of all, silly reason to go bonkers bursting firecrackers. As children we learnt that Diwali is the celebration of triumph of good over evil, light over darkness.

Lamps have been a way to show our adoration to the deity. Our day begins with the lighting of the lamp; this lighting takes a different meaning on Diwali. The Kingdom of Ayodhya wanted to celebrate the return of their King Rama, who is an incarnate of Lord Vishnu, from his fourteen year exile. This was an issue because that night was Amavasya (new moon) dark without a silver of moon. To ward off the darkness every house in the kingdom lit lamps. The same tradition has been handed down to every Indian household and to this day we all await the day to illuminate our homes with lamps. This is the time when the streets look like a million stars have descended to earth. The joy of  lighting an oil wick and the pleasure of smiling in its flickering warmth. The bite of cold and glint of fire, all reminding us of the Great War and triumph.

The concept of lamps and decoration are symbiotic during Diwali. Most of us think of earthen lamps when it comes to decorations. This season do something different bring out that brass lamp that was closed in the four walls of pooja chamber, make it the epicenter of your rangoli and the earthen pots play minions. Brass Diyas are made with a great variety of detail like the deity and his representations crafted in form symbols. Apart from this the functional utility of the diya is also kept in mind so as to aid multiple purposes. Here are a few lamps from Yk antiques that might give you a few ideas for decoration.

 

You can read more about the Diyas here

http://ykantiques.com/2013/03/antique-brass-oil-diyas.html

http://ykantiques.com/2012/03/antique-brass-oil-lamps-diya.html

http://ykantiques.com/2012/03/tulsi-pooja-oil-diyas.html

 

 

By-

Vyshnavi

 

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Bookmarks of History

 

A few days back I happened to visit YK uncle and had the immense pleasure of looking through his coin collection. Throughout the time I was there I couldn’t help but think-

History has given us many stories. Many of these stories are told through the relics from the past that have retained in them, not just the design and craftsmanship, but the value system the runs deep in the roots of prevailing times. Somehow, consciously or unconsciously they reflected the preferences of people then.

To understand history better most us would turn to books, internet, in case of an enthusiast a museum, it is like a walk in the park quietly showing us the many facets of the world and to know more about it, one need not look further than coins. Coins are the best kept bookmarks of history, a simple imprinted piece of metal that tell us the name of the ruler, the dynasty and the age of it prevalence. India has seen a lot of rulers until now, each with their own rulers, seals, and as such had a lot of variants in currency. Here are a few coins from uncle’s collection, the dimes under the rule of Nizam, the years that followed under the British crown to the coins of Free India, each of these coins has story to tell. From the day it was minted to its day as an artifact.

Writer-

Vyshnavi