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Monday, 5 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 5: Neer Tumbo Habba

Today is Dhana Trayodashi – and part of the spectrum of Deepavali celebrations. My fondest memories are of celebrating it as Neeru Tumbo Habba (Water filling festival) in my mother’s family.

It is the custom to have an oil bath (abhyanga snaana) on the day of Naraka Chaturdashi; so, the evening before was also a festival dedicated to water. Right from the big brass HANDE (हण्डे) we had in the bathroom (in which water was heated using firewood), to the buckets and the mugs, all water-holding apparatus was given a thorough wash, and then anointed with the sacred Thirunaamam, and filled with fresh water.

I think Amma did most of the cleaning part herself; what I remember the most is cleaning the small buckets and mugs, and then drawing on them the Thirunaamam – the V-shape in white, with the single line in the centre of the V in yellow or red.


For representative purpose only - we never had a black bucket :-) 

This part was completed by 7 pm or so.

Next in the festival was preparing kozhukattai – which Google calls ‘steamed dumplings made of rice flour, with some inside stuffing’. Amma made two varieties – the sweet one with stuffing of coconut and jaggery, and a spicy one with a stuffing of different pulses cooked with chillies.

This kozhukattai is the only dish I remember Amma fretting over. She worried that the outer rice cover would break after steaming. To us, the appearance didn’t matter – we were lost in the heavenly taste. Sometimes, a little of the dough would be left over, and Amma would fashion it into tiny balls and steam. Strangely, those balls were quite tasty too!


Having filled our stomachs with the tasty kozhukattai, we would settle down to make the Aakaash Kandil to be hung outside the main door early the next morning. Using coloured paper to cover the metal frame of the Kandil and a home-made glue Amma gave us (a paste of rice flour cooked in little water, I think), we would sit talking and laughing, late into the night getting the kandil ready.


Today, I’m struck by how, although she didn’t study beyond high school, Amma was educated in the real sense. Although we lived in Goa, she ensured that we followed all our traditional Karnataka Iyengar customs. Not only did she give us strong roots, but by making us adopt the traditions of the land where we lived (the Aakaash Kandil is a typically Goan practice), she taught us what is the meaning of being open-minded, too.




14 comments:

  1. Nice article madam.
    Our elders might not have degrees, but they are highly educated in real sense. ��

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  2. Oh, Yes. The need tumbo habba, it used to be so much fun. Back then we had a well in our backyard and I was given a smaller pot to draw water from it. The thrill of drawing water from well and filling the bins, etc .so much fun. . Thank you for this blog Any. It reminded me of all those childhood memories.

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    1. Yes, it must have been fun indeed. There's something magical about those times and that age! Glad I could remind you of them !

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  3. Happy deepawali to you and all your readers

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    1. Thank you Sneha! Happy Deepavali to you too!

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  4. You brought back memories Anu. I don't know how much sneren my mother had to do everything at home with no external help apart from a little from her children who crib always. May be driven by the enthusiasm to make memories for her children.

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    1. Thank you, Janaki Ma'am for sharing you views. Indeed, our mothers' created so many memories for us!

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  5. Nice touching article Anu. Really hats off to Amma who did the kolkattai alone. We prepared yesterday but with support from three.

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    1. Yes, how much she has done all those years! Really strong woman.

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  6. It is sad that these traditions are losing value these days.

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