The Journey of the Coloured Kola Maavu

Mylapore Festival Kolam Rangoli Competition

The kolam with white ‘kola maavu’ is a common and welcome sign in front of most Tamil Nadu homes. Come Marghazhi (Dec-Jan) and Pongal the kolam takes many hues with many coloured powders much like the Rangoli of North India. I have often wondered where the colour powder comes from. My guess was somewhere in North India or even China.

On a recent trip to Tiruvannamalai I discovered the source of these coloured powders.

In a village on the highway near Tindivanam the roadside is lined with several people selling sack full of coloured powder. My curiosity was piqued by the concentration of single product around a village.  What was the unique strength?  On my return journey the driver parked at this village for me to explore.

There were several sellers – primarily old women and young girls. Some men too. My question to them was why is there such a concentration here? What is their speciality? Is it some raw material available only here or is some special skill or formula handed down? The women were not forthcoming with the answers, either because of their limited knowledge or my limited communication skills or their reluctance to share with a stranger.

The little information I got was scanty and sometimes conflicting.

“The material comes from Salem”

“The sand here is good for this”

“We get materials from many places”

“Special skills of our people”

I also spied a 25-kg sack labelled “Coated Ground Calcium Carbonate. Made in Viet Nam”

There were also some domestic grinders to grind the base (sand?) and mix the colours. The ground material was being spread on a mat to cool or dry.

They sell the powder @ Rs 20 per measure (padi?). “In the city, it sells for Rs 50”, added my driver and another customer.

The activity is confined to the weeks preceding Pongal. At other times the families go back to ‘iron business” which could mean trading in iron vessels or metal scrap according to my “interpreter”.

In any case, I came away with respect for this resilient and industrious community and will remember them whenever I see a coloured kolam or Rangoli as above.

Happy Pongal greetings in advance.

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Idle Viewer or Active Stakeholder?

Rice Mandi on Mada Street

A rice retailer views the Kolam competition and a balloon seller outside his shop. His ‘Mani Mandi’ seems to be modern and money savvy. He accepts all credit cards and also uses other payment gateways.

At first, I thought he was an idle observer waiting for the event to end, but a small board in Tamizh announcing ‘Kolam Powder sold here’ made him an active supply chain member in the Kolam event and beyond.

Kolam Competition

Soaking in the local culture

The Mylapore Festival returned after a gap of 2 years. Again the Kolam contest was the highlight. As expected, it was a visual delight and naturally a favourite with the photographers. As usual, there was a sprinkling of foreign tourists. They not only witnessed but also took part in and had some fun as seen in the picture. In effect, they soaked in the local culture.

From the Sundaram Finance Mylapore Festival.

The Seafood Supply Chain

Last mile service

When we think of the seafood supply chain we only think of the fishermen and local fish vendors. there is a whole lot of other important links in the chain like the wholesalers and the transporters, the storage units etc.

Recently I discovered another important link. These are persons who sit outside the fish stalls with a kitchen cleaver (aruva manai) or chopping board. The customers bring their fish for cutting cleaning and descaling, for a few rupeees thus relieving the consumers of a nasty chore at home. Very useful last mile service for fish consumers and some livelihood for a few.

Photowalk in Nanganallur

Reviewing

This lady photographer seems to be happy with the review on her monitor.

From The Chennai Photowalk #145 Nanganallur

Sony A6400 with Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN (Contemporary) f/4.5 SS 1/125 ISO 500

Bald Tyre

Inspecting an old tyre

Never drive with a bald tyre. This man in the by-lanes of General Patters Road deals in used tyres. The whole area specialises in recycling and refurbishing used or damaged automobile parts and accessories.

Taken during the Chennai Photowalk

Sony ILCE 6400 Sony E 18-135mm F 3.5-5.6 OSS at 82mm

1/125 sec f/6.3 ISO 1600

Shopping Destination

At a leading mall in Chennai

Chat Group since 1965

Chat Group

Looks like a chat group from 1965. Taken on Labour Day – 1st May 2022 on Armenian Street, Mannady, Chennai.

The Chennai Photowalk Retrowalk #76

Sony A 6400 with Sony E 18-135 F 3.5-5.6 OSS @39mm

f/5.0, 1/60 sec ISO 320. Processed on Lightroom.

Woman Power

Girls practicing Silambam

Women Power: Naari Shakti.

Silambattam is experiencing a revival and is becoming very popular in Chennai. A person in the know mentioned that adding silambam to the list of sports for recognition and government jobs quota has accelerated the process.

The number of trainees on beaches and parks is seeing a visible increase. It is heartening to see that the number of girls taking to this sport is also steadily increasing.

Egrets over Buckingham Canal

Egret

Sony A 6400 f/8, 1/250, ISO 100

Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS @135 mm (Eq 202mm)

I am not much of a birder. A serious bird photographer may not think much of this picture. However, I am happy with this result for three reasons.

  1. There are a couple of trees near my place, on the banks of Buckingham Canal near Indira Nagar MRTS where birds are  flocking.
  2. The amazing auto focus features of the Sony A 6400.
  3. The adequacy of Sony E 18-135mm lens for most situations. Though I would have liked a larger aperture.