This is the pic. of the famous Sreekanteswarm Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, adjacent to my wife’s house
“Oi, Omma pon ennapennaral -what is your daughter doing,?” Parasu asked his cousin.
Krishnaiyer gave some standard reply, which was not of concern for Parasu. He got the information he wanted, that his daughter was not married.
“Good. Coming Friday evening, come to my athai’s house at Olavakkode prepared for nitchithartham” Parasu instructed left the place.
Krishnaiyer, a simple man, stood there without knowing what to do but as all good husbands would act, went home and told his wife about his encounter with Parasu. She would have rejected it as a casual remark, but for the clarity in the message linking Olavakkode family, which was closely related to her, and the stipulation of even the time for nitchithartham as if all the formidable formalities were completed.
Though closely related, there was no contact between the two families for years, but they would not think twice if the proposal was real and made seriously.They were in utter confusion, close relatives were called and discussed and everyone bombarded Iyer for not ascertaining the complete facts.
“You could have at least brought him home” His wife complained.
“Aa kazuveridamon avide ninnalalle? He just vanished into thin air. I was stunned for a moment when he brought up such an important proposal and I did not know what to ask “
Why Krishnaiyer? Won’t you too be stunned, if a relative meets you on the street and ask you to come prepared for the nitchithartham of your daughter with a boy of a known family .
“It was not just a proposal”, P.M.S, the elder brother of Krishnaiyer and head of the family,said,”It was an instruction for action within a time limit. We have just two days.How to take it seriously or how to ignore, is the question..Parasu is not an idiot, though sometimes, he acts as one,with a purpose. Without athangal’s (my mother) orders, he wouldn’t have made that proposal”
They searched for the man who threw a stone into the pond and quietly vanished. It was, in fact, a ‘thimingalam’–shark that he threw into the Sreekanteswaram pond and not just a pebble. That man had already left T’puram. How to collect more information?
Letters would take ages. Sending telegram was a possibility but what to write? it would be foolish to ask my father, whether they should go to Palakkad for nichithartham, as suggested by Parasu. Even promissory notes are not executed without certain preparations. A decision was taken by the seniors, in the family conference, after prolonged debate and discussion, to send the parents of the girl to Olavakkode house, under the leadership of P.M.S, the family head and a leading businessman, good at negotiating and decision making. Athai, Krishna Iyer’s elder sister, a capable senior member respected by everyone in the family and the girl’s mother also would accompany. The composition of the team was carefully chosen to match my father’s sophistication and shrewdness. The strategy worked out was that they would pretend that were on their way to the Pazhani temple , just making a casual visit, breaking the journey at Olavakkode to meet their kin. In case, my father raised the issue of marriage, they would negotiate. Otherwise, they all would go to Pazhani, males would go for a clean shave of their head,worship the Lord,say ‘hara haro hara’ and return. They came . My parents were delighted by their visit, though they didn’t know the purpose, since Parasu hadn’t met them, after he returned from T.puram.
Anyway, things have to come out and they did .
During the general discussion, my father mentioned that he was looking for a girl for me and then, the guests disclosed that Parasu had already mentioned it to them and since they were planning a pilgrimage trip to Pazhani, they thought it would be a good idea to drop at Olavakkode and discuss with my father about the marriage proposal also. Anyway,a visit was long over due. Introduction well presented.
“We would be delighted to give our daughter to your son, provided your demands are reasonable” The girl’s party mentioned humbly but not casually. “No demands,” father was categorical in his assertion.”Your family is very closely related to my wife and that single criterion would prevent me from making any demands”. He also told them about my age , academic and job particulars.Those were not of any concern for the T.puram party . The fact that I was son of so and so, settled the whole issue. Who bothers about the trivial issues of compatibility in age or education or the job details or the income of the prospective bride groom! My mother was overwhelmed by the prospect of obtaining a girl from her Mankombu family and therefore didn’t ask any question about the girl. Moreover, when she had spent a whole day with her proposed daughter in law, when she was a kid of two years.
When the T. Puram party was getting ready for the nitchitartham , my father again asked, was it not necessary to arrange a meeting between the boy and girl and the answer was a firm ‘no’. My father was still a bit hesitant because he had not seen the girl and what was at stake was his prestige in case I disagree to the proposal. At that moment entered Parasu and assured my father that he knew her personally. “You won’t get a better girl and your son would never say ‘no’,” he assured.
That settled the matter and the Nichithartham was performed. Of course, my father knew that I won’t disagree and I didn’t.
I could reach home only two days before the wedding date and therefore, the same night, we left for T.Puram.That was my maiden visit to that home of Anantha Padmanabha, art and music.The Lord’s magnificent presence fills the whole city, which I consider as the cultural capital of Kerala.
Every house is decorated with at least one or two paintings of the Royal painter, Raja Ravivarma’.The sun doesn’t set there, without hearing a few krithies of Swathi thirunal, from temples, parks or street corners. At T’puram and Kalpathy, pregnant mothers hear the beats of one thala or other, emanating from their oyster within, which holds their pearl. Kids, enter this world singing swaras and before they start going to school, singing keerthanas.
There were about forty people in our group, which included six- months old babies to seventy five years old men and women. Railway station was at a walk-able distance from our house and therefore, as it always happen, we started just five minutes before the arrival of the train. It was night, the benevolent sky sent it’s best wishes in the form of heavy rains and by the time we reached the station, everyone was fully drenched. For lack of time to change the dress in the waiting room which was dark, we boarded the train which was ill-lit, as usual.It was a sight to watch all the menfolk, holding the key tied to the sacred thread and bending down their head,struggling to open the metal boxes, to remove dry clothes. Nowhere else did I see the habit of using the sacred thread for securing the keys, as in our place. women were shivering with their water-soaked kanchi silks stuck to their skin firmly. The rains continued unabated and the train was not in a mood to start; kids were becoming restless and old men had already started snoring, unaware of the struggle the womenfolk were undergoing to change their cloth in the crowded train. After an hour, the train started, hesitantly as if it was not its job. Chami pattar,who was snoring till then, remembered that he had left his snuff box at our house and would like to go back and collect it. Parasu, suggested,” Chadikkolu,swamy; aduthavandiyil varam–Jump and catch the next train”.
He didn’t jump. Sometime, old people act wisely.
Love and regards,
sperinkulam Ocala, Florida