Blog post written by Swaathee Radhakrishnan
Okay, let me make it clear at the offset, This post is meant for pure fun – neither to judge, nor to get offended. continue reading only if you have the right sense of humor 🙂
I was taking a stroll with my little nephew when he suddenly pointed at a swift on the road and asked me “what is the difference between that and me?”. I could figure out a lot of differences but not knowing what exactly he meant, I feigned ignorance and asked him to tell the answer. Clearly irritated with my lack of knowledge, he said “Adu car..nan Iyengar” and smiled at his own discovery. Shocked by his understanding of the word, I told him what it actually means to be a Iyengar or rather a brahmin, as all this applies whether you are an Iyer or an Iyengar.
First of all, we are the proud vegetarians – We eat plants and plant products only and say a strict no to all other forms of living things including eggs, unless it is conveniently wrapped in the form of a chocolate or a cake – In this case all our sense of vegetarianism is pushed to the bottom of our conscience. Eggs are scientifically proved to be veg you know?!
Speaking of food, we are generally foodies (I have seen a few exceptions though) and no, “curd rice and mango pickle” is not the only thing that we eat! We expect specific combinations of every delicacy that we eat – like “moore kulambhu with kathirikai kariamudu” or “uppuchar with spinach” – No compromises! And we are famous for being sweet toothed – eat “akkaravadisal” (payasam) in a brahmin house and I am sure you will remember it whenever you eat sweet for the rest of your life. But you should note something – we all love having our food cold. You see, even if 18 variety of dishes is made on a festival day you will not be allowed to even taste one. No exceptions even if you are dying of hunger. “Neivediyam” first!. (offering the food to God)
That is not the only restriction when it comes to food though. Trust me, you might even be allowed to enter the safe in a brahmin threshold but not the kitchen. Having never been inside one all my life (no, not because of restrictions) I have no idea what valuables the “maamis” are safeguarding inside one!
And ofcourse, there is this myth that every girl born in the brahmin family will become a singer just like “T.K.Pattamal” or “Nithyashree”. While I do agree that some of us are gifted with a voice that we can really be proud of, the others have a voice that serves other purposes. Take me for example, you can rarely catch me singing – I only sing to myself when I am really sad and that is to remind myself that my problems are much better off than my voice. It took my mom 7 years of sending us for music class to accept her disappointment that we are just not gifted enough.What a waste of money!.
Music – Divinity – God. We dwell in this trilogy. Every vacation of a tam brahm family will definitely include a temple – Even if you plan a vacation to America “pitsburg venkateshwara temple” will be a must visit place. I have walked across the length and breadth of India, visiting these temples since I was just a kid.
And let me tell you, we have relations in each and every corner of India. A friend of mine told me that “half the population in India is because of your family”. I sometimes wonder if it is really true. I have around 30 cousins who are “closely related” (the first circle) and 20 others who are distantly related but still in touch! And that is only my dad’s side alone!
We are a tight knit family – we adore and give a lot of importance to relations. And oh the warning – call an “athai” as “mami” by mistake and you will be burnt alive in the middle of the night! One doesn’t simply forget what name you need to call your elders as, even if you are meeting them after 20 years. If the conversation starts like this, then you know you are in deep trouble. “Kanna, unaku ena nyabagam iruka? nee china kulandaia irukum podu, nan patu padina than nee thoonguva”. Say no and you will have hell to pay!
Now don’t get me all wrong, I do love my tradition and culture and I am really proud of my own identity.I do agree that there are a lot of rules when you are a member of the brahmin family – Some of these are just plain ridiculous while the others have deep rooted scientific explanation. I might whine about a lot of rules, but the fact is when I grow up and manage my own house, most of these rules will still be followed, and not because some one compels me to 🙂
P.S : I should make a confession that this post was largely inspired by http://tambrahmrage.tumblr.com 😛