Monday, January 16, 2012

Pongal at OMR Mantri's

I don't know how they celebrate it elsewhere in OMR. At Mantri's we tried to add three 'E's to the way we did Pongal - 1) engage residents and the house-keeping staff in the celebrations;2)educate non-Tamils in Mantri's about the sanctity and spirit of Pongal; 3) and, above everything else,entertain the kids.
And as is evident in this image the tallest among our community kids, Ujjal Mukherjee (E-Block) took the prime seat on the bullock cart to go for a spin round the Mantri Synergy complex. And it may surprise many to learn that some of these kids hadn't as much seen an ox-driven cart, let alone take a ride in it.
A Mantri elder, Mr P K Nair (D-Block), said the children petted, photographed the animals, and they were all so fired up with curiosity that they wanted to know where these bullocks lived, what they had for breakfast,whether they had pongal, and how,  if at all,  they slept. Maybe some of these children should do a Google search on oxen and submit to their teacher a class project on their bullock-cart ride and  how they celebrated Pongal.
Speaking of projects, we asked the kids if they could count the leaves on the sapling they planted at 'Senior Citizens' area. The number they came up with varied between 34 and 56. Oddly enough, none of us present at the tree-planting knew what sapling we planted. To get that info. we need to wait till Mantri's horticulturist Muthiah comes back from the Pongal break.
Earlier we had Rupa (B- block) and Priya (E-Block) working on their kolam close to the play area where we set up pots for cooking community pongal.The cooking was done by ladies in our house-keeping staff. The pots with steaming hot pongal were then carried to the entrance to Mantri's apartment towers for puja.
Ramkumar's (H-block) father from Gobichettipalayam helped  us conduct puja, a ritual about which most of us were blissfully unaware. Watching Mr Karunakaran do the honours was a learning experience for those of us who are not familiar with Pongal rituals they followed in a rural areas.
The pongal cooked in earthen pots was supplemented by home-cooked dishes - kesari,jamun, vada, idli, bisibela bath - brought for pot brunch in front of the D block car park.
A Pongal without cane is like soda without scotch. And the price of cane during Pongal hits a seasonal high. This time it was particularly high.Crop damage caused by the recent cyclone drastically reduced cane brought for sale to the market. On our drive back from Thiruvaiyaru on Pongal eve we found cane selling in Ariyalur at Rs.210 a bundle of seven. We wanted a couple of pieces, and they wouldn't sell it in ones or twos. Back home we paid Rs.40 per cane, which accounted for a hike of Rs.10 per cane in price between Chennai and Ariyalur.
over 70 Pongal photos on our Facebook page.


  1. Great posts, GVK uncle! I really enjoyed pongal again through the decription and the photos:-)
    Aarthi Krishna

  2. Thank you, Aarthi, for your encouraging words. And our community blog could do with your contribution. If you let me have your e-mail ID, we could send you a formal invite to be a contributors that enables you to post items and upload pictures in this blog - My ID
    I see we share interests in books and movies. We should set up a club at Mantri's for books/DVD swap among interested residents.