To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Am Back !!

Had been to Mangalore to join in the celebrations marking my grandparents’ sixtieth wedding anniversary. Supposed to be a rare event these days, one way or the other, and so all the more worthy of a toast.

This is the first time I was there at this time of the year. Usually I would go during april-may, when schools/colleges offered some reprieve.

Things weren’t much different though, except that -- the rice fields were in near bloom, cousins were out at school most of the day, had the chance to witness the festivities on Gokul Ashtami, Teacher’s Day, and our Mother Mary’s feast.

I was surprised to see people painted from top to bottom in tiger skin colour and other exotic costumes, roaming the streets on Gokul Ashtami. It seems that there is a story behind this custom, though I don’t know what it is. These people in fancy dresses danced in front of houses and shops; crowds would collect around them to watch their performances, and throw them money.

Teacher’s day has always been like any other day for me, but the way it was celebrated in Mangalore, I can’t help mentioning it. My cousins bought cards and flowers for their teachers, there were grand functions in the schools to honour the teachers and children had half the day off. It somehow brought back my school years, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember any of the teacher’s days. :(

I had taken an extended leave specifically so as to be present for Mother Mary’s feast. It would have been deemed a slight if I had left within days of this occasion.

On this particular day, we left for mass early morning. Preparations for the elaborate meal had begun the previous day, so there wasn’t plenty to do.

In the afternoon, mats were spread on the floor and we all sat in a row, except the elders who took on the task of serving. First came the banana leaves, which were to serve as plates. Then came the water, which we sprinkled and rubbed on the leaves to clean them. Then, one by one, nine types of dishes were served, along with rice, pickle and the like. Once we were through with the meal, it was time for the dessert, which was a delicacy called “warrn” in Konkani (akin to ‘payasam’)

It wasn’t the first time I went through this ritual, as we’ve always followed it at home, ie Bombay, too. But, being a part of it in its natural setting was something else.

I couldn’t help wondering if these quaint customs and traditions would die with our generation. I won’t comment on the good and bad of it, but the thought of an old tradition dying, of something that had always been, being no more, arouses a painful and wistful feeling in me.

All in all, I had a very good time…but all the same, am glad to be back too !!! :)