Friday, November 4, 2016

Dakshinchitra-Heritage& culture

India is such a country which has a strong base of culture and community. Our forefathers were learned and had a strong sense of taste in each and everything. Being a south indian, I can vouch this as we have standing proofs like temples with amazing architecture, old houses, medicines and many more things.

Recently our son in-law took us to Dakshinchitra as a one day trip. It  is located about 25 km from the metro city of Chennai.  Dakshinchitra, a small picturesque tourist village outside Chennai. It is neither a resort nor a theme park.  It is a kind of museum for South Indian heritage and culture.It reminded me my good old days of being brought up in village. Those days houses were built according to ecological impact.

It is an open air museum that gives you an authentic picture of the yesteryear life in South India. Our culture and heritage has been moved to museum! The museum with more than 4000 artifacts on display has some really unique collections pertaining to the art, Craft, folklore of South India.  Items used in daily life were my favorites especially the various kinds of articles used during worship, vessels and kitchenware seen  only at museum. There were few decorative objects outside of the prayer room and generally it was the kitchen utensils which took pride of place. The nostalgia was so overwhelming that I almost choked.

In my childhood and as grownup girl  I have seen  in my village that the architecture is very different and interesting where stones are arranged in rows above the wood with out plastering and these houses are huge with many rooms.  Long wooden box called Marapetti was used to store things. Same type Marapetti was in my home.
We can see long corridors and they are well ventilated .Also distinctive is the raised verandah or seating area in the front of the house also called as "Thinnai" with pillars, where the socializing happened.

The passageway leads to a the Main Door -Nilai Vasarpadi in Tamil which has intricately carved designs.

 The rectangular designs on either side of the door are excavations in the wall called "Maadam" in which- lamps are placed. 

In mainhall or puja room  the musical instruments were kept on display used in both folk and classical music. In our village everyone earnt and Know about Music very well.  but some instrumenys are no longer in use

In our village on hot days we  use to sit on the stone porch outside the entrance or swinging on the huge swing somewhere inside. Staying in a traditional Agraharam house, included oonjal.

Oonjal is one of my favorite .I use to love to swing by just kicking the feet to start and going to and fro inside a home. Those were thrilling moments. It is perfect for all ages. It’s nothing less than a Divine experience to sip a cup of filter kaapi relaxing on the oonjal.
Another one swing is called  thottil. This thottil is for small babies and children to sleep and Play. In my mother-in-law's house, we had this thottil.

Household Items:

Most of the households in the 20th century relied on copper or brass cookware for cooking. Originally the kitchen, this room now displays cooking vessels of brass, copper and bronze. . Owing to its high durability, stability and long lasting nature, copper or brass cookware can be used effectively for generations.  The vessels were large to feed a big joint family and the cooks and helpers were always men.They also show how families lived and coexisted together and how non-materialistic those lifestyles were

 Pannai /pot like utensil was used to drink water and used for hot water for bath. We used to say venneer paanai. It is made of stainless steel, copper and brass and comes in different shapes and sizes. They look similar to pot with curved neck.. Brass Chombu, Kalasa and Kunda were used to store water & in marriage for cooking variety items in huge quantity.
I still remember in my home my mother used to cook in vengalaPaanai and in function my amma used Kuthupooni to serve food.As seer she gave me this kuthponni set.Now still used by some in our village.Saapadu Thattu, made of stainless steel or brass. The plate will be flat with straight rims. The bottom will have either steel or copper finish. Small stainless or brass bowls are used to serve sambar, kootu, rasam, curd, poriyal.

Variety Of Kendi and Kooja :
 Kamandalam/Kendi was used to fill water for  Pooja. Kooja Antique Milk Can, to carry milk and used for drinking water while travel. It is made of bronze and weighs heavy.

Measuring Items:

These items are known as Padi (in Tamil) and used to measure rice, lentils, milk and other liquid ingredients. To measure huge amount or small amount they used marakal, padi alakku, Olakku.  Now we get these made of brass & stainless steel. I had few measurement cups in stainless steel given by my mother.

The open courtyard, an essential part of a typical village house, provides ventilation and light for the whole house.  Stone grinders and mills used to pound flour, grind rice, lentils, herbs and spice paste and an old chekku (oil mill) are stored here.  The tulsi plant in the centre is both sacred and healthy.
Here comes  Masala Grinding Stone (Ammikallu), and attukallu used to grind Idly Dosai maa made of stone. Designed to grind masala paste and also be used to prepare thick chutney / thogaiyal. It comes in all sizes. Unlike mixie / food processor, it sure takes time to grind the paste, however the masala prepared with ammikallu leaves an unique authentic flavor. I have a small ammikallu to grind paste and powdering spices. Once you perfect the skill of grinding masala, you will never go back to mixie.
This grinding stone used to make rice powder called maa uralMortar-Pestle / Hamam-Dhasta, made of wood, stone, brass, ceramic & steel. Used to grind herbs & spices for curries, rasam,etc. I’m using stone mortar pestle, though its heavy, yet love the result. In modern day cooking, masala grinding stones have taken a back step and replaced by electric mixer primarily due to the time it takes.

Muram / Winnow,  comes in different sizes. They are also made of  bamboo.My mother and grand ma  used it often to remove dust particles / small stones from grains by throwing them into the air. The thin air will blow off the dust particles & grains will fall off on murram.
 They are also used to dry the ingredients .Small box calle olai petti to store household items.
A plough is a tool or farm implement used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting to loosen or turn the soil.
 Ploughs are traditionally drawn by working animals such as horses or cattle. Ploughs are of three types: wooden ploughs, iron or inversion ploughs and special purpose ploughs. Oil turning ploughs are made of iron and drawn by a pair of bullocks or two depending on the type of soil. 
 Traditional tools used for agricultural operations by the farmers in my village.This tools always kept in kottil last place of home.


Used by families for long travel. It pulled by bullock cart with lot of bells jingling oni ts neck.We friends goes to school in Viilu vandi.Oh my heart beats with nostalgia!

 After spending few hours in Dakshinchithra gave me to relive the nostalgia of the years spent in the village and keep the tradition going undisturbed.Its true that people love innovations and are enjoying new technologies but they don’t forget their past, they don’t forget their traditions and they don’t forget the real happiness Finally I felt that Still some of our villages  are being the preserver of our heritage, which is soon to be extinct.  Though some of our remote villages  are still following our old ways, modern concretes and culture has been replacing our old way of living at very faster pace. Some decades after our culture will be seen  only at museum. As we moves towards westernised way of housing and culture, our culture and heritage has been moved to museum!

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