Monday, February 08, 2010
Manjadi-kurus (Lucky little red seeds) and other things--a picture story post
My mother lives in a tiny little village in Kerala, far away from the tourist bounds. It is Kerala at its best--unspoilt, serene, tranquil. Green fields compete with forests of tall rubber trees and shady groves that boast of trees like jackfruit and mango.
My mother has no computer (She sold it after my dad died.Dad used to be very net savvy and I used to get at least 2 mails from him every single day. My mother could not bear the thought of using it) and so I have no Internet access when I go to live there. It is end of modern life as we know it and I welcome the break.
My mother has a beautiful cottage. She also has a lovely Champa tree in her garden that she has tended to, all by herself with a lot of love and care.She has a myriad flowers, her favoutire being Hibiscus (she has more than 40 varieties of it) and Petunia.
There are goats and hens to keep one company. There are wells for my children to draw water from. The sun shines like a diamond through the forest of rubber trees and my children explore the 'forest' and marvel at 'rubber milk' being collected in coconut shells to be turned into rubber sheets.
I too love walking in these rubber forests with my children, pointing out tiny insects to them and explaining (for the 100 th time) how 'rubber milk' turns into rubber. In case you haven't been to a 'rubber estate', this is how a coconut shell filled with 'rubber milk' (latex or sap) looks:
More than the nature, more than the tranquillity and more than the fragrance of Champa flowers that my mother loves plucking (Oh the fragrance! It is easily my favourite flower. see picture below) there is one thing
that I absolutely love to do. It is collecting from the ground 'manjadi kuru' or little red lucky seeds. It has a boring Botanical name which can be found here. It has a fascinating story behind it which can be found here.
The tree grows just outside my mother's cottage and any free time we got, the children and I would be at the foot of the tree, collecting the little red lucky seeds or manjadi kurus. My son and I used to compete to see who collected more. They are tiny and they look like little gems dropped in mud. When you pick it up and rub it between your fingers, they start shining. We have collected almost a whole bottle! I simply love these seeds and I was at my happiest, like a child, when I was gathering them from the ground :-)
We must have spent hours collecting those seeds. They sit now proudly in UK, looking at the snow outside :-)
It is a dreary, dull, snowy , wintry, freezing cold day today.
But the warmth of those little red seeds is hard to contain in the bottle they are confined to! Anjali Menon was so fascinated with them that she even made a movie which won many awards.
If you ever visit a Krishna temple in Kerala, be sure to play with these seeds. You will find them stored in large'Urulis' or huge brass containers. You can play with them but you are not allowed to take away even a single one from the temple, as it is strictly forbidden as the seeds belong to the temple and are sacred. It is tantamount to stealing if you take away even one.
The only way you can own them is if you find them on the ground or if someone gives it to you.
Just like happy memories.
Fascinating, aren't they?
Ps: My next post is a very special post :-) You'll soon know why.