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.

Rural Setting

This typical rural scene is not very from the city. Nemam village – A suburb about 45 minutes drive from the city.

From The Chennai Photowalk

Bureaucratic Blindness

Children’s Garden Slide (rear)

Another site falls to bureaucracy.

The park/plaza under MRTS in Indiranagar / Thiruvanmiyur is one of the better things that have happened in the city. I go there often, many times with the camera and I have some memorable pictures of this place. When I went there 2 days ago with my granddaughter I was told by security that cameras are not allowed, but “mobile photo is Ok”. When asked for details he said that this is recent order of the Corporation probably due to ‘the lovers coming’. What he probably meant was pre-wedding photography. (I haven’t seen any here, though). It is ironic that the project which is sponsored and maintained by a Matrimony site discourages ‘lovers’.

Permission to use the camera here has to come from the Area office of the Corporation according to the helpful but partially informed security guard. One can imagine the red tape involved in the process of getting a permit for casual /tourist photography.

Why don’t the authorities realize that photographs can popularize the project and can also act as useful feedback for the higher-ups?

Benign Look

Roadside Krishna

Behind green chicken mesh, Krishna keeps a benign eye on his devotees emerging from the Peyalwar Sannidhi in Thiruvallikkeni.

Taken during the Manavala Maamunigal utsavam at the Sri Parthasarathy Temple.

The Chennai Photowalk #151

Service Providers

It has been raining heavily this morning. I could have only a glimpse from my window. Our street had about 5 inches of water. Yet some diligent service providers like maids, sanitary workers, newspaper and milk vendors, and health care workers were making their way to work.

I salute these anonymous service providers.

Arubathimoovar

Arupathi moovar

Idols of the 63 Saivite saints at the Dhandeeswaran Temple, Velachery.

We had taken the permission of the priest here to take photographs. As we were taking photos, another person who claimed to be a staff member said that photography is forbidden even in areas outside the main prakaram

Good Luck

Drishti

Press for Good luck.

Oroor Olcott kuppam.

Taken with a P & S Panasonic DMC-SZ7

February 2017

Mother and Child

Mother and child

Just before Navaratri, the streets around the Kapaliswarar Temple are filled with shops selling Golu dolls made of Papier mache, terra cotta, POP, wood metal etc.

The shops are usually set and up and managed by families including women and children. It is not uncommon to see mothers taking care of infants while transacting business, as in this frame.

From the Photowalk by Photographic Society of Madras on 25th September 2022.