THE HOLY FOOT OF GODDESS SREEPARVATHY
E. Harikumar
Tramslated from
Malayalam by
E. Asoka Kumar
 

THE HOLY FOOT OF
GODDESS SREEPARVATHY1


E. Harikumar

 

When the scent of dry earth getting wet with the first rains of south west monsoon reached her on a hot summer night, Madhavi thought of the trees in her ancestral house.

Looking through the window on the first floor of the 'Naalukettu'2 house, one could see the torrential rain, the swirling of trees and the swaying of coconut tree leaves. And while lying down to sleep at night, one could listen to the drumming sound of the rain on the tiled roof, the hollow shuddering sound which the gale travelling through the tree groves made and the cacophony by the frogs and crickets with their incessant croaking and chirping! All these sounds made a perfect orchestra worth listening to. Above all these, the roar of the sea heard from a distance. Nothing of that sort could be expected here in Kochi. Sea in this area never roars, it only whimpers. Even if it is very near, one could never feel its presence. Rain is like a government official; grumpy and to the point. Swaying of trees... Trees? Where are trees here in this city!

Ravi was lying facing the wall, on the bed. He had not yet slept.

"Look. Are you sleeping?" She asked.

"No" he said startled. "What do you want?"

In fact he had almost slipped into sleep.

"Nothing; shall I go to 'Kottappady' this Saturday?"

Ravi got up, propped up the pillow behind him against the head board and sat.

"What did you say?"

"Shall I go to my ancestral house, this Saturday?"

Ravi never cared to listen to Madhavi's chatter, especially those during the night when he was half asleep. Even while listening to, he would only be acknowledging it with a feeble 'hmm' sound. But when she talks about her trip to her ancestral house, it is something different. It needs attention! It is her pilgrimage; the call of her soul. When he observes that she falls in a reverie or if a plate slips from her hand and breaks, Ravi himself would suggest. "Madhavi, it's time for your pilgrimage." But this time nothing of that sort has happened; not even a glass was broken! Maybe it is this unexpected shower that affected her.

Outside, there was lightning; followed by a deafening thunder! And it started to pour again. A cool breeze crept into the room through the window, dropping the temperature. How nice would it be to curl up in the bed under a blanket!

"This is bad"

"What?"

"That you woke me up now!"

"I am sorry", she said, "you may go to sleep now."

There was melancholy in her tone. She knew that the sound of the rain, like a mother's lullaby along with the cool breeze would take one to the comfort of a good night's sleep. Yes, it is unfair to wake up somebody who is about to fall to sleep.

He lay down embracing Madhavi and kissed her.

"Go to your house; this Saturday itself."

"Will that be inconvenient for you?"

"Oh! No; not at all. 'Thankam' will prepare breakfast. She will also prepare rice and curry for lunch before leaving. I will take care of the chores with the help of children. No; it won't be a problem."

It rained incessantly till noon the next day. Then it retreated, concealing the shame of having arrived earlier than expected and giving a chance for the setting sun to have a glimpse of the earth.

The wet soil welcomed Madhavi as she got down from the bus in the village and walked towards the alley leading to her ancestral house. Dampness lingered in the alley from a heavy rain that showered a couple of days back. She entered the alley after removing the sandals and holding it in her hands. The cold seeped through her naked feet and spread all over the body. From beyond the bamboo clusters, the fragrance from the mango flowers infused the air. The fragrance was familiar to her. From her early childhood days onwards and up till now, the alley smelled the same every season. Once the monsoon sets in, the fragrance would get transformed to the smell of decayed leaves mixed with 'Indian medlar'3 flowers.

Stepping over the cattle trap, Madhavi entered the courtyard through the old fashioned Gate-House.

The Pagoda plants, with flowers like golden crowns standing in a row, looked like a group of crown princes all decked up for their wedding by 'swayamvara'4. Usually there would be enough flowers on the ground below the Coral Jasmine tree. The ground was swept early in the morning; she could find only four or five flowers below the tree.

Sarada, her sister, was on the veranda. She hurriedly came down to receive her.

"Rametta, Look who's here..."

Ramettan came out wearing dhoti as usual and with a towel on his shoulder.

"Madhavi! What happened? Did Ravi kick you out?"

"Ravi will not kick out Madhavi so easily" Sarada said.

The Jasmine vine with flowers was still on the big sacred basil5 platform. Instead of getting into the house, Madhavi remained in the courtyard enjoying its fragrance.

"This grandma Jasmine is still flowering isn't it!"

"Once it starts raining, the vine will be full of flowers."

She reminisced about the flowers on the vine when she was a little girl.

"Oh! What a sight!" Ramettan said. "With her sandals in one hand and the bag in the other; looks like she is going to stay in the courtyard itself. We will make a temporary shed with coconut leaves for her, till she goes back."
Madhavi smiled. "Let it be here, near the jasmine."

"You come in" Sarada dragged Madhavi inside.

Wisps of silver grey smoke rose up above the tiled roof of the kitchen. And the appetizing smell of 'Puttu'6 reached her nostrils. When Madhavi got the smell of 'puttu', she inhaled deeply.

Keeping the sandals on the steps of the veranda and washing her feet and hands, she rushed to the kitchen through the long corridor. Two black and white cats with their tails raised, followed by Saradedthy, Ramettan, their daughter Supriya who had just come down from the first floor of the house on hearing that her aunt has arrived and the housemaid Parukkutty made a small procession. Cats weaved through her legs as she walked. And the procession had its formal culmination at the dining table kept in the long hall, just before the kitchen!

Nothing has changed and everything looked so natural; the smell of green grass, cow's mooing from the cattle shed and that special brightness of the morning sun in the month of June! Till she got married to Ravi at the age of nineteen, this heaven belonged to her. And this is what she had been missing all through these fifteen years. 'I make this pilgrimage once in six months or in a year to regain and enjoy this lost glory, at least for a few days', she said to herself.

Ramettan and Saradedthy sat across the table watching Madhavi with fondness as she ate 'puttu' soaked in chickpea7 curry. Supriya sat beside Madhavi in a chair on her left.

"Look like Ravi is not giving her enough food. See how she looks now." Ramettan said jokingly.

"Don't try to tease her." Saradedthy said. "Let her eat peacefully."

"What is wrong in my saying this? See, how she gobbles the food. She already had one full measure of 'puttu' and enough curry that could soak it all!"

"That's okay. And you don't worry." Madhavi showed faces at him.

"Hot 'puttu' is ready." Parukkutty called out from the kitchen. "Shall I bring one for you?"

"No." Madhavi replied and then added as an afterthought. "Even when I just had a small piece of 'puttu', people have started commenting on it."

"Oh! God, I am leaving!" Ramettan put the towel back on his shoulder and said. "I have work in the paddy field."

"It's better that you go rather than annoying other people. Isn't it dear?" Madhavi said this looking at Supriya with extremely cute face. With her hands kept on the table as a prop to support her face, Supriya was watching her aunt without even blinking.

She did not like father teasing her aunt; she even felt a bit sad. So, without skipping a beat, she nodded her head in affirmation.

Madhavi took out a paper box from her bag and held it out to her.

"Guess what is inside!"

"I know!"

Supriya opened the box and took out the doll. Her face glowed. She laid the doll on the table. Yes, it is closing her eyes!

"She is already burdened with four children." Ramettan said. "Now with one more child, God only knows how she is going to manage."

Supriya came back running, carrying her four dolls. She arranged all five of them in a row sitting on the table. With their rosy cheeks, all of them looked like her daughters!

"Supriya, shall we go and collect the 'lucky red seeds'8 from the compound?"

Supriya nodded.

"Madhavi, are you okay with king fish? The fisher woman has just brought it." Saradedthy asked.

"Yes, please; you know I like it fried."

"This girl always likes it fried", Parukkutty said this laughing, showing her gum.

Supriya went out carrying the new baby on her hips. "Aunt, come" she said waiting at the door steps.

"I am coming."

Supriya, followed by Madhavi strolled in the compound. The grass hopers resting on the tips of grass jumped up as they neared.

"One day a grass hoper came inside the house." Supriya said. "Then mother said that if the grass hopper comes inside the house, it will bring lots of money along with."

"Is it?"

"Yes. But it will not work if we put one in our house. It has to come on its own.""Is it?"

"Yes."

Her shining hair cropped to shoulder length bounced with each step as the little girl walked with jerky movements.

"Darling, why do we need a lot of money?"

"You mean money?"

"Yes"

"With that we could buy lots of dolls."

Poor girl; Ramettan would never buy toys for her. In fact, all the dolls in her possession were bought by Madhavi on various occasions. How carefully she has preserved them all! Each time Madhavi buys her a new toy, Ramettan and Saradedthy would say; "You will spoil her with your excessive fondness."

There were lots of lucky red seeds below the tree. When they sat down to collect them, Supriya said.

"Aunt, we forgot one thing."

"What is it dear?"

"We should have carried a vessel. I never thought that there will be so many.

"Don't worry. We will collect them in a plantain leaf."

The compound was full of trees; Trees of Jack fruit, Mango, teak, tamarind, 'Indian medlar'3 and many others whose names are not known to her. Madhavi thought of her grandmother. When she was Supriya's age, she would go for morning walk with her grandmother everyday among the trees in the compound; they would inspect each tree and plant. Names of even wild trees in those two and a half acres of land were known to grandmother! She would also be inspecting each bud in the vegetable garden.

Madhavi was transported to the time when, one day while returning home from morning walk they saw two men; one with an axe on his shoulder and the other with a long Saw. The wild trees growing between the coconut tress had no commercial value. Father had arranged these men to chop them. When grandmother came to know of his plan, she was angry.

"Not even a single tree will be felled from this compound. We will only grow trees; not cut them."

"Mother, if we cut down those wild trees, the yield from coconut trees would double." Father tried to persuade her, but in vain.

"Whatever coconut we get now, is enough."

When he found that he could not convince grandmother, father laughed and said,

"Okay, mother. We will not cut any trees."

When the workers dispersed, grandmother called them back and asked father to give them half a day's wages.

Grandmother had left instructions to purchase logs from outside for her cremation and not to cut any trees from that compound!

"What are you thinking of, aunt?"

Madhavi came out of her reverie.

"I was thinking of my grandmother. You have not seen her. It is her photo that is enlarged and hung on the wall of the veranda. Your mother and I are her grandchildren. From grandmother onwards, this family had only female children. Grandmother had two daughters. They too had one daughter each; your mother and me. But it is I who changed that protocol. Two wild cats; though I like girls more."

"Aunt, do you love me?"

Madhavi looked at her. She was eagerly waiting for the answer as if her future dependent on that. She stood there with anxiety in her eyes.

"What a question! Do I love you?" Madhavi kissed her on her cheeks. "You are my dearest child."

Supriya's face reddened.

After collecting lucky red seeds, they started walking again.

"Have you seen the feet of goddess Sreeparvathy?"

"No."

She looked up at Madhavi as if enquiring what it is.

There was one Thumba plant9 which grew by the grace of rain that showered earlier than expected. It had blossomed and there were plenty of flowers on it. She plucked one flower and placed it upside down on her palm. She showed it to Supriya.

"How does it look now?"

"It looks like a foot!" Supriya exclaimed.

"This is the foot of goddess Sreeparvathy. This was shown to me by my grandma. After this, whenever I do the floral design for Onam10 festival, I place one of these flowers upside down in the middle of that floral design. Then, Sreeparvathy would come to our house on Onam day."

Supriya's eyes widened with excitement.

"I will also keep a flower like this on the floral design during this Onam festival."

When they reached home, Supriya stored the red seeds in her small earthen pot.

"Mother bought this earthen pot for me during last Thiruvathira11."

Red seeds filled almost three fourths of that earthen pot. Supriya showed a smaller pot. It was full of red coloured 'Kunnikkuru'12 seeds.

Small earthen pots full of red seeds. Dolls that would close their eyes while lying down. Supriya's world was really small and beautiful. For a moment, Madhavi envied her.

It rained heavily that evening. The rain drops were so big; it felt like pebbles falling on the tiled roof. Even the heavy branches of trees swirled with the strong wind. The Areca nut trees swayed. The tuber leaves fluttering in the rain resembled cows nodding their heads. Madhavi sat near the window of the room on the first floor of the house, cuddling Supriya and looking at the rain. The memories took her back to her childhood days. Rooms with wooden roof and smell of varnish, cots and tables made in rose wood with heavy carved legs, prayer room with lots of images and statues of Gods and Goddesses and beyond all those, a big wooden box for storing rice. Madhavi at Supriya's age, used to lift the lid of the box and inhale that special scent of rice. Madhavi imagined that Supriya might also be doing the same.

"What are you two up to? I searched for you everywhere downstairs." Saradedthy said while climbing the stairs.
"Nothing special mother; we are watching the rain."

Saradedthy stood near the window. She too looked through the window as if seeing the rain for the first time.

"Looks like the rains have started early this year."

There was a bad nuance in her voice; maybe she was thinking of the gloomy and damp days ahead. Damp dusks, rooms smelling of damp clothes, poverty during the month of 'Karkkidakam'13 when rains poured incessantly. And every bad thing connected with it.

Madhavi thought of Karkkidakam dusks. On the day of 'Karkkadaka Samkranthi' 14 at dusk, Parukkutty with an old 'muram'15 filled with a ball of rice mixed with charcoal, an old broom and a broken earthen pot in one hand and a torched pandham16 in the other, would run around the house while calling out "Bad things, go away; Good things, please come inside." When we were children, we used to run after Parukkutty, while she was performing this ritual known as 'potti aattal'17. She fondly remembered those days when she and Saradedthy would be loitering in the backyard of the house plucking the holy 'ten flowers'18 that are to be kept on a bronze tray in the prayer room at dusk. Madhavi liked dusks that followed the Karkkadaka Samkranthi day. The atmosphere would be serene. Everywhere, it would be still; not even a flutter of the leaves. And there will be twilight despite a sky covered with rain clouds. Above all, the drum beats heard faintly from a distant temple. All these gentle experiences influenced Madhavi's life.

"Doesn't Parukkutty perform the ritual of 'potti aattal' these days?"

"That is during Karkkadaka Samkranthi. There is enough time left."

As if thinking of something, Saradedthy asked.

"When is the school reopening for kids?"

"On sixth."

"Here the school reopens on first itself; only less than a week from now." Then she told Supriya, "It is dusk. Go and light the sacred lamp."

"Mother, it is not time yet. You feel it is dusk because of the clouds. I am sitting here comfortably with aunty."

She held herself closer to Madhavi.

"You are my daughter." Madhavi said holding her still closer.

It was pouring outside. All three were gazing out of the window without talking. Madhavi was thinking. In the city, one can never enjoy this splendour. There the rain is like the gift of a miser. You can never feel these bountiful showers.

"Supriya, it is dusk. Go and light the sacred lamp." Saradedthy repeated.

Supriya went downstairs.

Saradedthy kept on looking through the window. Both of them did not utter a word for quite some time. Then Saradedthy asked.

"Why did you come now leaving Ravi and children all alone?"

Why did I come now? She thought, even I don't know!

"Saradedthy, do you remember those days when we used to play with pebbles sitting by the side of the window while it rained outside?"

"I know why you have come." Saradedthy said.

"And do you remember that day when aunt came upstairs, looking for us to light the divine lamp and we hid the pebbles!"

Saradedthy as usual was not listening to any of such talks. Even if she listened to, she may not be remembering any of those incidents. She had present day problems to carry with and a future to worry about. And Madhavi liked to watch her cousin sister when she is under such a situation.

'I prefer to see Saradedthy as herself, without any air.' She thought to herself.

"When your mother wanted to buy a house in Thrissur, we had to sell the paddy field on the western side to raise the required amount. That day grandmother had specifically said that this ancestral house and the compound around are for Bhargavi." Saradedthy continued. "Grandmother passed away without executing a will. And my mother died young at the age of forty eight. My father also died and now I am all alone. When I look at our family history, I am not sure as to how long I will live and I am worried about Supriya."

"Sister, you are not going to die so soon. Like grandmother, you will live for long."

"Deepam....Deepam." Supriya had lighted the divine lamp.

A halo gradually appeared in the stair case as Supriya climbed up the steps. She was bringing the lighted divine lamp.

"Aunt, Deepam"

She had climbed the staircase with the divine lamp, to show it to her aunt. Behind the lamp was the cute face of Supriya. Seeing the bright face behind the lamp, Madhavi had the feeling that her life is fulfilled.

She got up in reverence to the divine lamp.

"Dear, I saw the lamp."

Then she prayed in her mind, long live you little girl!

"It looks like there will not be electric supply this night as well." Then Saradedthy shouted for Supriya to hear. "Supriya; light the kerosene lamps."

Madhavi realised that they were silent for quite some time now and that they are surrounded by darkness. The rain had lost its vim and vigour.

"When will Ramettan be back?" Madhavi enquired.

"Ramettan will reach by eight o' clock after finishing his responsibilities with the temple committee and the general public."

"Sister, we will go downstairs. Only Supriya and Parukkuty are there."

While they were going down the steps, Madhavi heard Supriya reciting the hymns in her sweet voice.

 "Nama Shivaya!"
    "Narayanaya Namah!"
    "Achuthaya Namah!"

Supriya was reciting the hymns in the prayer room, sitting on the floor cross legged. She had applied 'bhasmam'19 on her forehead. The lamp portrayed her image on the wall in larger than life size; as if providing a glimpse to the future. Idol of Lord Krishna in dark blue colour placed on a small stool was adorned with Jasmine flowers. Behind the idol were the pictures of Gods and Goddesses. Above all, the fragrance from sandalwood incense sticks. The atmosphere was divine. Madhavi sat near Supriya.

You can never replicate this atmosphere in city apartments. Concrete rooms are heartless. There is no space for spirituality there. This is one of the reasons why a prayer room was not built in her flat and she did not cultivate the habit of reciting hymns to her children. Yet another reason is that they are boys; and it is difficult to make them sit still during dusk.

Madhavi sat there with eyes closed for quite some time. She continued to sit with closed eyes till the recital coming from that sweet throat was over. Her memories sneaked to the past when grandmother was alive; she, along with her sister reciting the hymns; shadows dancing on the wall with the fluttering of the flame; fragrance of sandalwood incense sticks mixed with camphor and sesame oil spreading in the room. And this fragrance overpowered the smell of dampness coming from outside.

After supper, they sat on the veranda. It was pitch dark beyond the small circle of light that the kerosene lamp could provide. And in that darkness, she could see fireflies with their small glow blinking. And she wondered as to which generation of fireflies these could belong to since she saw them in her childhood. She also thought of the small birds which caught these fireflies to provide light in their nests. Generations of those birds must also have changed!

She would have asked a firefly from that generation if she could find one, whether it still remembers a lonely little girl who in the darkness held a firefly in her arms and inspected it with curiosity.

When it was time to sleep, Ramettan said.

"I will sleep downstairs in the south side room."

"You can sleep on the cot upstairs. We three will sleep on the floor." Madhavi said.

"No! No! Both sisters will be chatting the whole night and I will not be able to sleep. Better I sleep downstairs."

Rain had stopped. How Madhavi wished to have the rain pouring now! It will be nice to sleep listening to the drumming sound of rain on the tiled roof, the hollow shuddering sound the gale made and the cacophony made by the frogs and crickets. She wanted to listen to that soothing orchestra and fall into a deep slumber! The sea had not yet started roaring. Only strong and incessant rains would make the sea roar.

Supriya had already slept. And Saradedthy spoke.

"As per Ramettan, your house in Thrissur along with the adjacent twenty five cents of land will fetch at least five lakhs."

"Sister do you remember that day, when our grandmother showed us the feet of Sreeparvathy?"

"Yes, yes. Then, this house, the compound and the paddy field all together wouldn't fetch even two lakhs."

"You remember the Thumba flower placed upside down on her palm and what grandmother told us? We used to place one such flower upside down in the middle of the floral decorations during Onam."

"What all are you talking! Father had to spend a lot of money to send you for the convent education. That money came from the proceedings of the sale of paddy. I stopped further studies when I failed in the tenth standard. I was not expecting a marriage. Somehow at the age of twenty eight, that also took place."

"You are lucky to have stopped studying. I took my degree after getting punishments from the nuns there. And for what purpose did I do that?"

"When I say something seriously, you are joking." She continued. "When I talked to Ramettan, he says that he will not get involved. Then with whom am I to discuss?"

Saradedthy was on the verge of a sob. Madhavi put her hand around her waist.

"You are a fool, Saradedthy. Why should I have two houses? The house in Thrissur is in my name. And I have two sons. If they want more houses, let them construct it later. This house, the compound around and the paddy field; all are for you. These are all for Supriya; she is my daughter too!" Madhavi paused for a moment and then continued. "Now talking about Supriya, I am taking her along with me to Ernakulam tomorrow. Raviettan will bring her back before her school reopens."

"In that case why don't we register the documents?"

Madhavi thought about it for a second. In fact, it is better to do so. Nobody knows as to how the new generation would act in future. It is better to take decisions and act on it, when there is still love and respect between the concerned people. But, she had the feeling that things will not be the same, once that document is signed. Fear that she will not be able to come and stay here with the same freedom as being enjoyed now; the fear that she will lose the love of Saradedthy and others; the fear that her ancestors who have lived here and still walk beside every day, unseen, unheard but always near would also discard her. She loved the legacy of this house.

"Saradedthy, don't cry." Madhavi said that after drawing her closer. "On my way back to Ernakulam, I will get down at Thrissur, see father and mother. I will ask father to arrange for the transfer of title deeds in your name."

"You don't say anything to your father. After the death of my father, it was he who was looking after my affairs. And he will think that I am a thankless person."

"Don't worry. I will not say that you asked me so. Is that okay? I will present this as if it is my wish. We could have transferred the title deeds much earlier. But then, I had the feeling that things will not look the same. May be you will not understand what I mean."

Saradedthy did not say anything. There was silence for quite some time. Then she realised that Saradedthy has slept. She thought about her ancestors who are not with them anymore. It was those people who taught her what love is. Even as on date, she had this gut feeling that her ancestors are watching her with their loving eyes; especially her grandmother when she walks through the corridors of this house.

Madhavi woke up the next day morning hearing the chirping of small birds. They were heard as if it came from just outside the window; may be from the mango tree in the courtyard. In those mixed voices, there were complaint; anxiety; appreciation; love and even hatred. In her childhood, she had tried to differentiate these voices but in vain. One voice as if in continuation of the previous one, fell on the ear like music. Voices of certain other birds added sweetness to this music. Listening to the music, she slipped into sleep again. And when she woke up, it was the crow's caws. Probably, they were the last to arrive.

Looks like Saradedthy has already told Supriya about their plans to go to Ernakulam. By the time Madhavi reached downstairs, Supriya was ready after taking bath. She was wearing a silk frock with red flowers on it.

"Dear, aunt will dress you up, after breakfast."

While eating idly20 for breakfast, Madhavi said.

"I forgot to tell you one thing yesterday."

"What is it?" Saradedthy asked.

"That I wanted kanji21 and coconut chutney."

"Oh! Best thing to have for breakfast!"

"Do you remember those days when we used to drink kanji for breakfast sitting on the wooden planks on the floor with spoons made of jack fruit tree leaves? We did not have this dining table then. You did not like kanji even at that time and used to first drink the watery part and then make it rice and eat it along with the chutney."

"Around twenty coconuts are kept packed after removing the husk." Saradedthy said pointing to a big sack in the corner of the room. "Then a couple of bread fruits, a few drum sticks, four or five 'monthan bananas' 22. And a bottle of mango pickle. Ravi and children will like it."

"So, this is what you two were doing getting up early in the morning. I cannot carry all these with me in the bus."
"I will carry them up to Thrissur." Ramettan said.

"There's one bottle of fresh ghee also. Shall I pack it as well?" Saradedthy asked.

Madhavi smiled. It is always like this. When she returns from this house, Saradedthy would not be satisfied with whatever is packed for her. When Ramettan and Saradedthy would come to Kochi, they would bring lot of things with them as well. All these were to be enjoyed by her sister as well and not by her alone; and it is this thought that was behind all these acts. Poor woman!

"No, I don't want ghee. Even otherwise, Raviettan has blood pressure. And once he sees this, he will surely have it all without any limit."

After breakfast, Madhavi dressed up Supriya. Her hair was tied in pig tails with ribbons on either side. She put talcum powder on Supriya's face and a small bindi23 on her forehead.

"My daughter looks like a little princess now." Ramettan said.

"Supriya, sit on the stool to put the anklets." Madhavi tied the anklets one after the other on both legs. Her legs were fair and rosy with long and beautiful toes.

"Have you seen Sreeparvathy's feet?" Madhavi asked her.

"Yes, it is the flower of balsam plant. Isn't it?"

"No. It is this."
Madhavi pointed fingers at her feet wearing the anklets and said. "This is Sreeparvathy's feet."
She bent and kissed those little feet.

Translated from Malayalam by E. Asoka Kumar

Translated from Malayalam by E. Asoka Kumar

 
Foot Note:  
(1) Sreeparvathy (Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power. She is the wife of god Shiva - the protector, the destroyer and regenerator of the universe and all life.) Showing an idol of Goddess Sreeparvathy in bronze from a temple in Orissa.
(2) Naalukettu (Traditional house of old Nair community of Hindu religion. Traditional architecture is typically a rectangular structure, where four halls are joined together with a central courtyard open to the sky.)
(3) Indian medlar (Elanji tree)
(4) 'Swayamvara' (A girl's own choice in marriage to select a groom out of a set of suitable candidates, generally enjoyed by princesses of royal families.) The picture right shows Seetha Swayamvara from the epic Ramayana.
(5) Basil (Thulsi plant - an aromatic plant, sacred to Hindu religious people)
(6) Puttu (coarse moist mixture of roasted rice powder layered with coconut scrapings filled in bamboo moulds and cooked in steam and usually taken with chickpea curry)
(7) Chickpea (Katala)
(8) Lucky red seeds (manjadi)
(9) Thumba plant = Leucas Indica or leucas aspera, is considered a holy plant and its' tiny white flower is used for floral decoration during the Onam festival.
(10) Onam (This is the biggest and the most popular festival of Kerala lasting for ten days. It is a harvest festival and usually falls in the months of August - September. Festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala on Onam day. Flowers will be arranged on all the ten days on the veranda or courtyard of the house, known as "pookkalam")
(11) Thiruvathira (This day falls in the months of December - January. This day is celebrated as the birthday of lord Shiva and is the longest night in the year. It is believed that on this day, the Goddess Parvathy finally met Lord Shiva after her long penance and Lord Shiva took her as his equal partner.) On this day young woman dance in a circle to the accompaniment of songs known as 'thiruvathirappat'. It has its' own theme and tune. The theme is usually on Lord Shiva and Goddess Sreeparvathy.
(12) Indian licorice arbus seeds (Kunnikkuru)
(13) 'Karkkidakam' (This month falls in the month of July when rain pours incessantly)  
(14) Karkkadaka Samkranthi (The day which marks the transition of Sun to Cancer and falls on July sixteenth. This day is auspicious to Indians as it is on this day that people are symbolically advised to discard bad things and accept good things)  
(15) 'Muram' (Made from palm leaves and coconut tree leaf rib, this is used for segregation of unwanted dirt or trash from rice, wheat, sesame seeds etc.)
(16) Pandham (Torch made by wrapping cloth around a wooden stick and immersed in coconut oil and ignited. Generally used while conducting rituals during night time)
(17) 'Potti attal' (A ritual performed every year by the people of Kerala, which has got great significance. Potti in Malayalam means ‘bad’ or ‘evil’, this could be bad habits, bad things, bad ideologies... anything realised as bad. Seevothi (Sreeparvathy) in Malayalam means anything "Good", this could be new habits, new things, new ideologies.... anything new and good.)  

(18) 'Ten holy flowers' or "Dasa Pushpam" (Ten sacred flowers of Kerala. Apart from being used as religious or decorative flowers, including in the floral designs of Onam, these flowers/plants have medicinal values) The plants are:
1st row. 1.Vernonia cinerea 2. Eclipta alba 3.Evolvulus alsinoides
4. Cynodon
 dactylon  5.Curculigo orchioides
2ndrow:6.Aerva lanata7.Emilia sonchifolia8.Ipomoea sepiaria
 9.Biophytum sensitivum 10.Cardiospermum halicacabum

1.
പൂവാംകുരുന്നില, 2. കയ്യുണ്യം, 3. വിഷ്ണുക്രാന്തി, 4. കറുക, 5. നിലപ്പന, 6. ചെറൂള,
7. മുയല്‍ ചെവിയന്‍, 8. തിരുതാളി, 9. മൂക്കുറ്റി, 10. ഉഴിഞ്ഞ

(19) Bhasmam (This is the powder that you get while incinerating dried cow dung mixed with thulsi leaves and other incense, like camphor. Indians consider this as sacred to apply on forehead and body after taking bath)  
(20) Idli (This is a savoury cake that is consumed mainly as breakfast, and is popular throughout India. The cakes are made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented de-husked black lentils and rice.)
(21) Kanji (Typical rice soup or porridge, consumed as breakfast). In the olden days Kanji is consumed using spoons made by stitching a twisted jackfruit tee leaf as shown here.