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.


  1. Ps,
    Without manjadikuru I would not have learnt basic arithmetic.
    Even I used to collect. A bottle full of them should be lying somewhere at home.

  2. Anonymous8:07 PM

    This just brought a lot of memories flooding in. No childhood in Kerala is complete without the 'manjadikurus'.
    We used to make 'pambarams' out of the shells of the rubber seeds. It took a lot of effort to align and fix the opposite ends of the broken shell and rotate them without breaking.
    Lovely post.

  3. U r looking so pretty Preeti;-D!!!!A lovely, warm post full of memories most of us can associate with...but I never knew anything about the manjaadi kurus until u told me now;-o

    Looking forward to reading the special post;-D!!!!

  4. must have had a great time in India......the house and fields and the forests look so inviting....calm and peaceful.....Your snaps clicked by Atul are great......I loved reading your account of the little red lucky seeds and of the coconut shell filled with rubber milk.....Those lovely pictures and your description have a magical old world charma and feel to it........ It made me feel as if I was actually there :))

  5. Manjadikurus-You've made me nostalgic Preeti. On my way back from school I used to collect these 'gem' shaped beauties.I'm quite new to your blog but I enjoy reading your simple but thought-provoking stories.

  6. Thanks for the insightful post, Preeti, for those of us who did not know about the seeds.

    Awaiting your next post.


  7. Thank you for sharing these lovely pictures, Preeti. You made me jaunt on a wonderful nostalgic trip to my village, Vilakkudi, Tanjore district. Ahh...the smell of those Champaka flowers is ethereal! I used to collect those pretty red beads too. We call them "KUNDHUMANI"in Tamil. Great clicks and a cute post!

  8. nice one preeti...
    waiting for ur next post.

  9. Few things from childhood - nothing can ever erase them off, like those little "manjadikuroos"!

    Cheers! :)

  10. Anonymous10:16 PM

    Oh... The Manjadikkurus made me feel very nostalgic. I remember as a child going to Guruvayur temple and playing with the kurus in the uruli. Those were calm days when people could walk into the temple without the queue. This time not only was the temple so crowded we had to wait 2 hours but I could not find the uruli. It was a big sense of loss.

  11. Anonymous10:42 PM

    Manjadikurus brought back so many memories! I used to love playing with them in all the temples I found them. They are so fascinating, aren't they?

    Loved your post!It has so much warmth in it.

  12. Anonymous10:53 PM

    LOVED ur post. Manjadi kuru does bring back lot of nice pleasant childhood memories. We used to visit our grandparents during summer, so my sister and I would each have a rubber tree that we would take care of (take care meant, go sit next to it, talk to me, put a sticker on it, name it..)

  13. wow Preethi it just brought me back to my childhood too.. I had written abt it earlier here

  14. wonderful post preetso.. :) Those rubber trees tell me ur from central kerala,somewer near kottayam..??

    Manjaadikuru' have been part n parcel of every child in kerala,feels refreshingly nice to read about them.. :)


  15. Anonymous12:34 AM

    I LOVE this post! Brought back so many good memories of my childhood in Bangalore! I remember collecting these very seeds.

    Beautiful pictures! Love your Mom's cottage!

  16. Kerala looks like a very beautiful place. You have some lovely memories.

  17. lovely pics .. your moms place does sounds like paradise..

  18. oh! Manjadikuru has a story?? Lost time when I went to Guruvayur temple, people took in their two palms and again put it back in the Uruli. I thought it as custom and did the same without knowing why people do that.

    The flower in that picture...Is it Senbagam(Tamil)??

  19. Nice post.. waiting for the special post..

  20. what a walk down the memory lane ! Very nostalgic and as usual very well written !

  21. Really nice post Preeti...Simply written, yet brought out the warmth of your native place.

    thanks for sharing these little gems from your life so consistently.



  22. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Preeti, I just went back to an era from where I didn't want to return.

    Whenever we visited Kerala during Summer vacations, I was so fascinated with Manjadikuru that I collected. I have traveled to so many places in India but never found it anywhere.

    Loved the pictures and the account. Took me back to my Summer vacation during childhood. This time I have to look for Manjadikuru. :)

    " The best thing about Kerala is that for most part it still is unspoilt, serene, tranquil."

  23. Ayye! You know what our school had this tree and we collected many many many red seeds in our recess/break. I even tried making a necklace out of these back then... silly me... the outer part is so hard, the needle wouldn't go in at all!!

    Another thing, I didn't know they were called manjadi kuru. Thanks of making me aware :)

  24. @Guruvayoor they have kunnikkuru..Isn't it?

    A very good post.. :)
    (first time here)

  25. I wish I was a around...I wish I was walking through...I wish i had a little time to breathe once again...


  26. Hi.. Preeti.. lovely post.. brought back memories of my summer vacations to Kerala.. manjadi kurus and kunni-kurus (the ones with the black tops).. we used to make some rangoli-type designs out of them :)..

    ~ Mridula..

  27. It really amazing...when you live in that kind of country side...really green and fresh....and everything is so near and welcoming....climbing the mountains....eating wild fruits...ahhaa....the list is endless. Need to visit kerela soon...! Hope your having a good time!! :)

  28. I follow your blog regulalry...Really lovely posts...this post is very eautiful for its simplicity and the way it brings back one's own set of memeories.....Will await your next...

  29. Beautiful snaps...
    The post does brings some nostalgia of my childhood..
    BTW i din know there were 40 varieties in Hibiscus..wooww it wud be amazing to see all varieties together..

  30. - Your mother has a beautiful house.
    - The picture of the sun shinning amongst those trees looks like a postcard.
    - Your smile is very infectious.
    - As for 'Manjadi kurus', I remember seeing them in Mangalore during my summer vacations and I remember rubbing them hard on a surface and then touching the same seed on my sister's arm; it used to be so hot and I can still remember her scream :D
    It was fun!

    So? What's the special post all about? :p
    Yeah, I know, I've no!

  31. Hi Preeti,

    Its really good to know that you mom is from Kerala.
    I was born in Kerala that the only link thing i share of being a Keralite...

    Back During our school vacation every alternate year we were to visit our granny and relative, vacation used to last for full 2 months, those are still my best days and have loads of memory attached to it.

    As i was City grown kid, visiting Kerala was totally different every time, the winding roads, the paddy fields, rain....

    I to have spend hours collecting "Manjadi-Kurus" and i have a bottle full back in Pune.
    And Thanks for sharing the story of Manjadi-Kuru.

    I have been to Guruvayur temple twice and have seen the big uruli.
    In Pune near my place (Nigdi) we have a Krishna Temple, there to we have Manjadi-kuru kept.

    Reading your post, had made me recall all those beautiful time i spent.


  32. Anish: I too was born there but was brought up outside entirely. Use to visit during summer hols. (and I am not a mallu either) I love the place though :)

    Sparkling: You naughty thing! I will try it tomo :P (never knew it would become hot like that ) :) As for surprise--wait and see :)

    Sundari: oh yes--there are many varieties. Very beautiful indeed.

    Destination: I think your first comment here. Welcome :) and thank you :)

    Maneesha: Yes--i ahve been to Goa many times as our family temple is there. Goa too reminds me a lot of kerala.

    Rohit: I have come back to UK now. Yes I did have a good time :)

    Mridula: yes yes--manjadi kuru and kunni kuru--i like both :)

    Wanderer: hope you take a break soon.

  33. Sands: welcome! Yes they do :)

    Mamta: if I were you I'd be at the foot of the tree full time! Yes--they are hard. Can't make necklace out of them :) It would have been nice if it had a hole at either end.

    Solio:There's really something magical about Manjadi kurus.

    Meg:Thank you :)

    Ruch:Thank you :)

    Kavya: :-)Thanks :)

    Maddy: yes--its a custom to play with the seeds. yes i asked my mom--it is senbagam in tamil.

    Bedazzled: it's a great place.

  34. Tim: kerala is indeed beautiful.

    Nilu: thank you

    Multimenon: yes. and yes manjadikurus are indeed special.

    Dhanya: Read it though I didnt leave a comment :) We alos used to collect broken glass bangles :) Kuppi vala pieces.

    andwewent: Wow! Putting sticker on rubber trees! So sweet! the trees were indeed loved.

    wordzndreamz: thank you

    sruoloc: oh! Its a long time since i went to guruvayoor..Maybe they moved the place?


  35. Jyotiajay:Thank you :)

    Gayathri: Did not know tamil name :)

    Palsworld: Ok. :)

    Ariel: welcome and thank you :)

    Rujuta: he clicked only one :) Rest were by me :) Glad you liked it.

    reflections: :) Now u know about manjadi kurus. Hope special post does not disappoint you.

    JJ: My mom (she is visiting me these days) told me about the rubber sees. I have never seen them though :) She knew about the pambarams. They used to do it too.

    Nikhil: Give it to me. Please please please.

  36. I still have a tin-full of manjaadi seeds at home. M grandpa had given them to me when I was a kid :)
    Such pretty seeds that last forever. There is a tree in my colony too and below it, these lovely seeds lay strewn every day of the year! :)

  37. What a beautiful post! I felt as though I was travelling with you and experiencing everything in person. The place you described feels like a small paradise especially since it is cut off from external sources of disturbance.

    Loved the bit about the Manjaadi seeds. How I loved playing with it as a kid!

  38. Dear Preeti,

    I saw your comments on ARIEL's blogpost. That was the route which I used to reach here!

    Manjadikkuru blog is very interesting and nostalgic. Looking forward to see further blogs.

    Best Regards,
    Renjith P Sarada

  39. WOW!! your mom has a great cottage!! A nice place to live in without the disturbances and mundanes of city life which i now have started disliking slowly.. I would love to go on a vacation where i can absolutely be NOT reached. Just me and the nature.

    Those little red seeds reminds me of a little game we used to play "baratamane" (spelling may not be correct), with 12 pockets and in each pocket there will be certain number of seeds and in the end the one who collected the max wins. My grandpa used to play this and they would go on and on, time was never a barrier for the game.

    Eagerly awaiting your next post. Though all your posts are rather special, this one could just be a lil extra something??

    Have a nice day,

  40. I have it at home in Bangalore too..we used to play with them in my dad's ancestral home near are lucky that your mom still lives in a place like that, esp for teh kids to know that kind of life too

  41. Dear Preeti,

    Missed talking to you when you were in your mom's place. Probably, next time we can meet.

    It's interesting to read your Manjadikuru story. Last week, as I walking down the lane behind my apartment, I found manjadikuru lying on the road. I think I was seeing them several years. On seeing, it reminded me of my childhood when my mother used to collect it for me and in the later years, we did it together. We used to play and occasionally, my brother too joined to play with us. I think those manjadikurus - 3-4 bottles is still there in my parents place.

    So, last week my husband and I were discussing our childhood manjadikuru stories - he too used to play with them with his siblings. We even discussed how today's children may not be aware of the existence of manjadikuru, something we all cherished.

    Resmi Jaimon

  42. Beautiful Preeti - the writing and the pictures. Manjadikkurus are precious. I am getting nostalgic whenever I see the greenery of Kerala.

  43. Lakshmi:Thank you :) They are indeed precious.

    Resmi: yes--next time we will meet :)Thanks for the comment.

    Suma: yes--kids love it there :)

    Shantharam:Bharatamane sounds interesting. Where are those 12 pockets? Was there like a special cloth or something with 12 pockets to play this game? Are you by any chance referring to gurpale--the wooden board with 24 depressions, 12 on each side? Yeah--mom's cottage is lovely :)

    Swapna:Thank you :)

    Shru: You really have a treasure!

  44. yeah the same..forgot wat it was called in Konkani :) Baratamane was the Kannada name i guess.

  45. :)

    very warm post

  46. Came to your blog through a Twitter post.

    The tiniest things can sometimes be the most beautiful!

    Although i dont remember collecting any, i do remember a friend who had a large bottle of the seeds and she would drop one seed each into another bottle, a count the number of days that she missed seeing her guy!

  47. Great post and lovely pictures! :-)

  48. I felt as though i breathed in unpolluted oxygen when i saw those photos. Magical surroundings and a beautiful cottage.

    Hey btw, even my children love going to our native place and we explore the surroundings of the cauvery basin. They too love drawing water from the well.

    we have something similar to the manjadi kurus called kundumani. It is oval in shape , redcolored and black on one end. We play pallankuzhi( a native indoor indian game) with the seeds. Perhaps this is called kunnumani in malayalam. not too sure.

  49. Beautiful post Preeti.. Got me back the fond memories of visiting Kerala and also about the Krisha temple. The first picture with lots of lush greenery is something unique to Kerala and probably only a few more places here in India. Hope it stays that way.
    Cheers :-)

  50. Lovely post Preeti. Reminds me of Gulaganji's - these are red seeds oval in shape & have a black cap and are poisonous. We used to collect that from the neighbor's garden at school... :)
    Very beautiful pics, so much greenery. And ur mom's home looks so cozy & relaxed, away from the modern humdrum.

  51. Lovely cottage Preeti :) And so much greenery around :) All reminds me of our grannys place which we used to love to visit :)
    Collecting these seeds was our favorite pass time. We used to always find them while going to our school :)Collecting them ,studying basic Maths with it, playing games with it & also doing some crafts with it all these are such fond memories of it :) ThankYou for bringing back these memories :)

  52. Mridula: Glad it brought back happy memories. :)

    Aksha; yep--beautiful place it is :)

    Nandu: i sure hope so too!

    Asha: i used to play pallankuzhi evry often with my grandma. i still have the wooden 'board' :)

    Savvy Mom:what a sweet idea!!

    Anusha: Thank you!! Thanks for the link too--very useful!

    Ram pyaari:Thank you! :)

    Shantaram: yes :)

  53. Such a pretty home! It must take a lot of time and care to bring up something so beautiful :-)

  54. this house. this village.
    lovely and serene.
    gods own country.
    loved it. thank you.


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