Rose Nectar Vanilla Delight


The sun has set on a wonderful nine days of festivities, after the Indian festival of Navrathri. All the wonderful anticipation, pre-festival, has now been replaced by exhaustion; but of a very beautiful and fulfilling kind.

The nine days seem to have just flown by, in a colourful whirl of saree draping, accessorising, having guests over and visiting the homes of friends, eating the yummiest of foods, and posing for and taking the most vibrant pictures to trap all those wonderful memories.

Phew!

Right now, I am sitting on the couch, with my afternoon coffee. I lazily flip through the hundreds of pictures. The smiles are contagious – I smile, I laugh; as I remember all the fun we had.

One photo in particular makes me smile. Just before the festival started, I was scouring the internet for dessert recipes. My criteria was that it had to be simple to prepare and good to taste.

I finally found what I wanted. It was rose milk shake with a vanilla icecream float! I tried it out at home, before I had my friends over.

My children were the guinea pigs. They had their first cup, and kept asking for more.

That decided it!

Later in the day, my son said, “Mom, I think you have invented a drink that is sensational. I feel it deserves a new name.”

I said, “But, it is an old recipe…!”

Son: But this is super-special because ‘you’ made it. Let us name it Rose Nectar Vanilla Delight!”

Me: Wow..is it as good as all that?

Son: I bet your friends will love it too!

And that is how it turned out. Armed with my son’s love, I served the Rose Nectar Vanilla Delight to all my friends, all of whom loved it!

And, as we wind down after Navrathri, and look forward to Deepavali, my son’s love and words warm my heart, and give me the confidence to try something new!

My Doll Display – Part 3


Today’s featured dolls are the Tanjavur Dolls, so called, as they are made in Tanjavur.

Tanjavur is one of the oldest cities in South India. The city boasts some of the best temple architecture in the country, built during the golden reign of the Chola dynasty.

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The two pictures above show a typical ‘Thalaiyaatti Bommai’ (meaning a doll that shakes its head).  This doll actually comes in 4 pieces. The base, the skirt, the torso and the head.  Each part is balanced on the part below it on a thin curved wire, which causes the different parts to oscillate, each time you touch them.

Kids and adults have a lot of fun, making these dolls move.

In my Golu, this doll was the welcome doll, greeting friends as they entered the house.

There is also a joke about the term ‘thalaiyaatti bommai’ – as a nickname for people who say ‘yes’ to everything!

The second type of Thalaiyaatti Bommais are the ‘Chettiar-Aachi’ dolls. A must-have in every Golu. These dolls are always in a couple, husband and wife. They are an ode to the rich business heritage of the Chettiar community in  South India. These dolls are usually made of two pieces; only the head piece shakes. These dolls represent growth, happiness and prosperity.

In a typical Golu, these dolls are placed with grains and vegetables.

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The other type of Tanjavur Dolls are the roly-poly dolls usually depicting the kings and queens of the region.  These dolls have a spherical base and hence, come back to the same position after one moves them.

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The Tanjavur Dolls are made from sago, wood pulp, papier mache and Plaster of Paris. They are supposed to have become popular in the early 19th Century.

The Indian Government has now included these Tanjavur Dolls in the Govt. of India Geographical Indications Registry, as lawfully originating in the region.

Hope you are all shaking your heads after this post!

My Doll Display – Part 2


This is in continuation to my earlier post. I would like to share with you all, stories about some of my favourite doll sets from my Golu.

The first set is called the Narikuravan-Narikurathi set. These dolls are an ode to one of the earliest tribal gypsies belonging to the southern part of India.

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These gypsies belong to a larger group of Kuravan-Kurathis, hunter-gatherers, who lived in the Kurinji mountains of South India. They used bamboo extensively in their everyday lives, especially to defend themselves. This use of bamboo is largely believed to have led to the popular martial art form,  called Silambattam.

The Narikuravan-Narikurathi gypsies are still active, and craft beautiful bead necklaces and chains that they sell in public places.

These dolls were given to me by my mother.

The second set is my collection of dolls representing a South Indian wedding, and the wedding banquet that follows.

Indian weddings are colourful, noisy, vibrant events, with lots of dance, music and food. The bride and groom are seated on the ground before the sacred fire, with the priest who solemnises the wedding and guides the couple.

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The wedding banquet is usually served on huge leaves of the banana plant. Nearly 35 to 40 dishes are served. People either sit on the floor or on chairs, with the leaf spread out on a table. The catering firm has a team of people, who serve the guests. There is a protocol about which item gets served, and in which order.  There is also a definite place on the leaf for each dish.  Guests usually use their right hand to eat. Family members of the bride are usually assigned to walk around the banquet hall asking people to enjoy the food and take second helpings.

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Hope you enjoyed this post.

Welcome to my Golu (Doll display)


The last week has been so crazy, in a wonderfully beautiful way, as we celebrate one of the nicest festivals in India – Navratri.

Navratri means ‘nine nights’. While there is a lot of spiritual meaning to this festival, these nine days in most Indian  homes spell joy, fun, food, music and dance, and of course a lot of camaraderie and bonding, not to forget all the vibrant and colourful sarees.

So,  that was why I was MIA from blogosphere this week. The festival is nearly done, and I am back.

People from our community celebrate Navratri in a unique way! We put up a display of dolls (yes, dolls). Dolls that have been passed down from our ancestors, dolls that we have collected over the years, dolls of every possible type.

These dolls are arranged on steps (these stands can be assembled). The stand is then covered with a cloth and serial lights put on them.  On the eve of Navratri, the dolls are brought down from storage and put on display.

I have a few hundred dolls, mostly terracota dolls. Once we set up the dolls, we invite friends home to see the display and have food.  I had a lot of friends visiting this week, and had lots of fun.

One of the most important dolls in the Golu (doll display) is the ‘Marapaachi’ doll. These dolls are made of wood, and passed down from generation to generation. These dolls usually come in couples, man and woman, boy and girl.

We dress them up in different costumes, every year. Each year we add new doll sets to our collection. Over my next few posts, I will share pictures of a few special doll sets that I have at home and the story behind them.

This is a picture of my Golu. With new dolls, my Golu is expanding horizontally as well.  Below the picture of my Golu is the picture of the ‘Marapaachi’ dolls, that have been handed down in the family.

Each doll is special, each doll has a story and so many associated memories. I love my dolls, each and every one of them.

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        Main Golu, Sections 1, 2, 3 & 4

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                      The Main Golu

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                 Section 2 of my Golu

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             Section 5 of my Golu

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The Marapaachis – handed down from generation to generation.

Hope you enjoyed these pictures. Over the next few posts, I will talk about my favourite dolls and their stories.

I look forward to catching up on all your blogs too!