Elephant sculptures put up at Elliott’s Beach, one of the venues of Chennai Sangamam – Namma Oru Thiruvizha is drawing a lot of selfie seekers. The installation seems to be made of cane or some sort of reed. the thiruvizha is to promote Tamil traditional arts and culture.
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.
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.
Have you thought about this? The ‘main’ entrance through the Eastern Rajagopuram is not the ‘front’ entrance to Kapali temple? It is actually the back entrance!
The Lord faces West and the Dwajastambahm is also on the West. So the entrance from the West facing the tank is the front of the temple. The Eastern Gopuram is tall and there is Ganapathy at that entrance. This makes us assume that this is the front.
This was highlighted by Dr Chitra Madhavan in her talk about the 3 temples of Mylapore on Sunday, 8th January as part of the Mylapore Festival 2023.
This is something which we see but never think of.
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.
Though Chennai is one of the top Metros of India and is clocking growth in business, infrastructure, and structures, one does not see many attractive architectures in the new buildings.
Occasionally, you come across some architectural features which catch your eye.
I shall attempt to document these, like the one from ELCOT- SEZ, Sholinganallur.
A tomato vendor in the Villivakkam vegetable market near the station. The market built during the British regime has been functioning continuously.
From The Chennai Photowalk #231
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.
The Kandaswmy temple at Thirupporur also known as Thirupporur Murugan Koil is an ancient temple tracing its origin to the Pallava period. The temple was renovated in the 18th century and later.
Though Thirupporur is only about 25 Kms from my place in Chennai, I could have darsan only recently. Fortunately, another occasion followed.
The temple is the abode of Lord Muruga and his consorts, Valli and Devanai.
The gopuram seen above is seven-storied and rises to a height of 70 feet.
Vaikashi Vishakam (May-June) is an important festival in this temple.
Aslam at Ashraf Brinji stall
This is Aslam who was minding the Ashraf Vegetarian Brinji stall in Villivakkam.
I do not know the difference between Biriyani and Brinji. Uncle google tells me that Brinji is similar to Biriyani and its forerunner at least in the South.
I am told Muslims make the best non-vegetarian biriyanis. So it was surprising to note that this stall manned by Muslins was highlighting their vegetarian dish. Maybe a strategy of specialisation or penetration of a niche. Or does it have anything to do with the profile of the neighbourhood? Not being a foodie, I was interested only in the marketing strategy behind this young man’s business.
Incidentally, in a recent article Economic Times reported that Biriyani continues to be the most popular dish ordered on food delivery apps in the last 3 years running. Swiggy, for example, receives an average of 2.3 orders for Biriyani every second.
From the Chennai Photowalk #231 Villivakkam