Wednesday, August 09, 2006


So my grandma handed over a box of “Thambhit” laddus, some green bangles, a halved dry coconut, pan and beetlenuts, a saree and ofcourse kunkma to my mother with a puritan’s touch to tradition observed on ‘Nagarapanchmi’, the festival of the Lord of snakes, Lord Shiva.

I sat across ajji, who with much zeal had made the laddus, and asked her what gave her the verve to make them. (In the monotonous humdrum of todays mundaneness, conforming to these traditions seems more than just a time-consuming elaborate effort to most. One just doesn’t have the ‘verve’ to do it anymore.

‘So what is this festival all about?’ I ask ajji and she nonchalantly says “nagpanchmi andre nagara havina puje madodu” translated from Kannada that means worshipping the Lord of snakes aka Lord Shiva. Sounds simple?

Celebrated with special gusto in North Karnataka and interior Maharashtra in mid-rainy season, Nagarpanchmi is an elaborate five-day celebration of life. The festivities commence with crunches, munches and special lunches. Call it ‘peth pooja’. I would without a doubt say that’s a part of every Indian festival. But, what’s different about Nagpanchmi (apart from the festival-specific food) is the 180 degrees swing play.

Donning new clothes, adorned in new jewels and fragrant jasmine garlands in the long plaits, ajji, her cousins and comrades, escorted by maids, took to the game of ‘sway and catch the coconuts’. They had to stand on ropes tied to perennial trees and swing a substantial 180 degree up in the air to catch the dry-coconut garlands and bring them back. And all this in the farms, with that shimmer of greenery, glint of sunshine and wind that carried you away with the sways to a happier place.

‘It was so much excitement’ ajji says concluding her fleeting recount of Nagarpanchmi, with a resounding laughter reminiscent of the mirthful bygone years.

1 comment:

Teju said...

hmm...your narration is beautiful, goes smoothly, and creates a familiar ambience of quaintness

great going :)