Patang – The story of the Indian Kite

“♬Let’s go fly a kite Up to the highest height! Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring ♫” This song from Disney’s Mary Poppins, to me, best describes what kite flying can feel like. If you’ve ever flown one, you know. But this euphoric piece of paper wasn’t always a sport. In fact, old records suggest that kites were developed for very serious … Continue reading Patang – The story of the Indian Kite

Golu – Toying with tradition

Dolls in vibrant colours, stacked on steps that sometimes reach the ceiling, suddenly appear, every year in South Indian Hindu households. After spending most of the year locked up in trunks, protected by moth balls, someone lets them out for ten very special days every autumn. These ten days, called Navaratri or Dussehra, mark an important Hindu festival. In South India, especially in the states … Continue reading Golu – Toying with tradition

A story of two Indian festivals

One story, two regions Today is Rakshabandhan…, or Rakhi, a festival that celebrates the special bond between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated all over India but is a bigger festival in the North. Did you know of a story that connects it with the festival of Onam that is celebrated in South India? This 7th-8th century carving from Mamallapuram tells a story that connects … Continue reading A story of two Indian festivals

Akshaya Tritiya

Today marks Akshaya Tritiya, the day when Chennai buys lots of gold, apparently. But we got to wondering what more this festive occasion could actually signify. We delved into research and came up with quite a few interesting if amusing interpretations of the day. Gastronomically, Yuddhishtr was presented with the Akshaya Patra ensuring that the Pandavas, especially Bhima who ate everything in sight, would never … Continue reading Akshaya Tritiya

Sundal and suchlike

We’ve just seen the end of one festival. Kolu padis are being dismantled, dolls are getting packed away, fancy lights disconnected and friends and relatives will again be relegated to the background of busy daily life. The city is limping back to reality after a surfeit of sundal and holidays. Good food, renewed ties among the family and friends, and a time to thank a … Continue reading Sundal and suchlike

Tales of Diwali and Deepavali

The last of the crackers have been burst. The haze is beginning to lift, and the noise levels are considerably lower compared to the previous week. And as you pack those decorative lights and the fancy ‘diyas’ away for re-use next year, you might just wonder why these elements have come to be so closely associated with this festival. Why do you burst crackers during … Continue reading Tales of Diwali and Deepavali

Sundal and sundry matters

Cool mornings, balmy evenings and the fragrance of parijaatham in the air – This last month was a festive time in namma Chennai. The dolls were out, golu padis (steps)were fixed up, silk sarees were aired out and recipe books consulted for sundal. The city wore an air of expectancy and there was a feel of unrestrained joy- such is the spirit of Navaratri. But … Continue reading Sundal and sundry matters