Chamathu Ponn Kondey by Venkatraman

Blog Post by Venkatraman Subramaniam

Following the 11 commandmentsΒ for Chamathu Pullaiyaandaans (click here for the article), I was asked by some to pen down the 11 commandments for a Chamathu Ponn Kondey as well. Well… unfortunately, even today there are too many restrictions on our ponngal. Tonnes of them are archaic and mentality of our seniors and super-seniors need to change to ‘let them live’. But, continuing with the listing tradition, here are my Top 11 (out of a gazillion) commandments to become a Chamathu Ponn Kondey. These won’t do any justice to the kind of rules and regulations that they have to follow (coz ninnaalum kuttam, okkaandalum kuttam).

1. Thou shalt ittufy the pottu always

Saree. Half saree. Salwar. Ghagra Choli. T-shirt & Jeans. Formal Shirt & Trousers. Edu pottundaalum, nettiyile pottu irukkanam. Enna appidi paakkarel? How did T-shirt, jeans, shirt & trousers end up in this list-aa? Today’s appa amma are konjam liberal, ok vaa? Well-covered dress eduvaa irundaalum kondeygala potukka ‘allow’ pannuva.

Repercussions: Your Atthai will come running towards you with the Shilpa Gold sticker pottu packet in hand, which she has safely preserved for such ‘occasions’ in her handbag (which was gifted to her by Yoo Yes la irukkara son Narayanan alias Norry during his last visit) and ittufy the largest possible size pottu available with her. And after pressing it hard on your netti for a minute to ensure it sticks well, “Ippodaan lakshanamaa irukku!”

2. Thou shalt not wear sleeveless or shorts

Ennadu? Sleeveless-aa? That’s the first reaction. You are reminded that you are not the toddler anymore who used to go to pakkatta-aam wearing a shimmy. And shorts-aa? #vekkamaillai

Repercussions: “Sleeveless poatukkara moonjiya paaru. Modalla come with me to the pakkatta theru tailor. He will have spare tuni of the same colour. Mariyaadaiyaa sleeves tecchukko! Costly dress aache paakkarein… illaata bhogi la ericchirpen!”

3. Thou shalt not have viriccha thalaimudi

If your hair is not tied either in a pinnal, kondai or even with a simple hairclip… tolanjai!

Repercussions: Parachute Tengai Ennai. Your Hair. Ottai or Rettai pinnal, depending on Amma/ Atthai/ Chitti/ Paati/Β Pakattu-aattu Mami’s ishtam. Padiya padiya vaarardu. If their mood is good, as soon as it is done, you hear this word in a musical tone – “Aachu!” If the comb happens to be in Amma’s hands… and if her mood is bad, avalavu daan! “Evalavu chidukku irukku di!” Pulls hair with the comb ruthlessly! Paavam chamathu ponnu.

4. Thou shalt go to Paattu/ Bharatham/ Veenai/ Violin class

TamBrahm Ponn Kondey & music/dance class is like Thayir Chaadam & Narthangai. The expectations from them are not much. They just want their ponngal to become the next Sudha Raghunaadhan, Bathma Subramaniyam or Lalgudi Vijayaletchumi.

Repercussions: “Varnam finish pannu… simultaneously teacher ta chollarein unakku some tukdas and all the Pancharatna Kritis cholli kudukka…. we will go to Thiruvaiyyaaru next year. Inda chaakkulyaavudu naanum chaagartukku munnaala oru daravai Thyagaraja aradhanai kannaala paappein.” Endharo Emotionalu Blackmailu. Checkmate.

5. Thou shalt learn to cook as soon as you are old enough to hold the Idukki (kitchen tongs).

Amma’s Paruppupodi is strictly reserved for Yoo Yes-kku poagara paiyyan. You have to learn to cook coz ‘kalyanatukku appram yenna pannuvai?’

Repercussions: “Maggi pannardu tavara vera enna di teriyum nokku? Naaliki kalyaanam aachuna, aamdayaanukku verum Maggi daan samacchu poduviya? Naalikiye training aarambam! Ippove paduchukko. Naaliki pukkaatukku poyi kashta paduvai.” Samaiyal 101: How to make Idlis?

6. Thou shalt attend Poojais & go to Vellikizhamai Kovils

Vellikizhamai is strictly reserved for Kovils coz for us all Fridays are Good Fridays. And attending poojais is romba vishesham coz ‘nalla marks varanam-nu pray pannu’, ‘nalla velai kadaikanam-nu pray pannu’, ‘cheekramaa kalyanam nadakkanam-nu pray pannu’.

Repercussions: “Nothing doing. I have already committed to Kamakshi Mami. You have to go for the Vilakku Poojai. (Kondey is about to leave, disgruntled). Po-naa odane poyida vendiyadaa? Buy the Vilakku Poojai book from Giri Trading on the way. En copy enga vecchu tolacchein teriyalai. Manasodu pray pannu… illaina palan kadaikaadu.”

7. Thou shalt not have a Paiyyan friend

If you say you have a friend, it is definitely a girl. No doubt about it. #vera_yaarum_irukka_pdaadu

Repercussions: You are talking on the phone, “Akshu, stop it yaa.” Amma walks into the room. “Yaaru di anda Akshu? Pudu friend-aa? Chollave illai! Akshu naa… Akshaya-vaa, Akshara-vaa illai Akshata-vaa?” “Ammaaaaa! Idu Akshay-mmaa!” The trait mastered by Ammas where they will whisper their angst in such a way that the person on the other side can’t hear… but you are shaking seeing Amma’s anger! “YENNADU?! Paiyyan-aa?” Smart move by #almostchamathu ponnu – “Amma, ivan Akshay <Iyer/Iyengar>.” Sudden change in Amma’s expression “Appidiya! Pesu pesu… aamaam avanukku enda ooru? Poorveegam edaavudu common-aa irukkum. Vijaari.”

8. Thou shalt not do Love marriage

As pettavaa, it is ‘their’ duty to find the groom. If the Ponn Kondey selects herself, she is considered ‘romba kettu poyitaa’ & ‘kai vittu poyitaa’.
Repercussions: Stage 1: No Means No! “Naanga daan paiyyana teduvom. Nee yaarayaavudu izhutundu vandainaa paaru!”
Stage 2: Shock. “Love-aa?? Shaniyane, ozhinju po!”
Stage 3a: Compromise. Amma to Appa “Yaen-na, paravaillai-nna, pidicchaalum pidiccha, nammalavaalaa pidicchirka.” The above possibility is as rare as finding malligai poo for Rs. 10 a mozham during Navaratri.

Stage 3b: If she did not marry a nammalavaa… The Prince plastic mug in Appa’s hands filled with metro water overturned on his balding head. #thalaimuzhugiyachu

9. Thou shalt not behave like an Adigaprasangi

Having an opinion is only fine till you don’t voice it out. Especially before ‘veli manushaa’ (guests).

Repercussions: Amma in her trademark angry whisper, “Adigaprasangi, don’t argue! Go inside and bring a glass of jillu Rasna for Mama.”

10. Thou shalt not utter any ketta vaarthai

Never. Ever. Ever. Ever… EVER!

Repercussions: Umpire gives a wrong decision and India loses a wicket. “Bhe…” Appa stares at you. “Bhe…sically, idu rommba tappu, illaiya paa?” You were almost caught. You look at pillaiyar padam and put a topikarnam… okkandunde. 9th wicket down. “Fu…” Amma stares at you. “Fu…nny way to lose, illaiya-mma?” Amma: “Edo enakku perisssa cricket pidikkara maadiri. Inda shaniyan pidicha match naala Vani Rani miss aagardu (goes inside the kitchen, storming).” Phew! Narrow escape.

11. Thou shalt not give a SINGLE chance to disappoint your parents

This one is the toughest. Coz even the pettavaa don’t know what will disappoint them.
Multiple Repercussions:
a. Resting your face on your palms can at times be so relaxing… but “Kannatulendu kai edu!” #facepalm for that thought!
b. You have studied/worked all day and have just sat down to watch something on TV/laptop, but… “Mandoo, vettiyaa okkaraade, edaavudu pannu.”
c. You have just picked up a call from a friend, and then… right at that moment, “60 naazhiyum phone-a vecchindu okkaara vendiyadu.”
d. You have got a promotion transfer to Delhi. You are happy, but… “Anda promotion-a ingaye kuduttu tolachaa enna avaalukku? Nee angalaam onnum poaga vendaam. Promotion vendaam chollidu. Un chambalatta nambindu onnum inda aam nadakkalai.” #nettipalm when your Thambi is allowed to go to Canada
e. And you can’t even afford to be upset… especially in the evening. “Moonji-ya umm-nu tookindi vecchukaade. Sandhya kaalam. Vilakku ettara neram. Lakshmi odiye poiduval.”

I am staying away from a lot of other tortures. Yenna, sila vishayattulendu ‘dooram’aa velagi irukkarde nalladu. Full Stop. Period.

Our ponn kondeys are usually Chamathu… but getting the ISI certification from aathu periyavaa is very very difficult!
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61 thoughts on “Chamathu Ponn Kondey by Venkatraman

  1. I totally agree with your idea that nothing should be imposed on the girls…yes..I too understand that it is meant to be a funny writeup….BUT….It is the duty of parents to teach the children …how to be dressed for a certain occasion,place, time….In the name of freedom if you go to xyz vegetable market in your sleeveless crop top and low waist jeans anytime of the day…then you are asking for trouble…to put it mildly…You have a certain dress code when you go to five star events and parties…which you very strictly follow…so why not do it if your elders ask you to come appropriately dressed for a pooja or the temple…

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    1. Thanks for the comment. At times, the dress code is made compulsory (just the way how it was imposed in Tamil Nadu temples). Then, you are obliged to follow it ‘legally’. But not otherwise. Parents do suggest what is right according to them. Ultimately, dressing is completely a personal matter. Each person knows what she/he is comfortable wearing and shouldn’t be judged on that basis. And if it is her choice to wear a sleeveless crop top & low waist jeans to a certain place which may seem conventionally inappropriate… it is still her choice based on her judgement. And no, she is not asking for trouble. The troublemakers need to learn – learn not to look inappropriately & learn not to judge that lady because she is dressed a certain way. Not just in our ‘culturally rich’ country, but a change will come in the whole world when it is not the girls who are told how to dress but the boys are taught how to behave. Appreciate your views but I had to clarify my stand. πŸ™‚

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  2. Very true!!!
    I think this community need to start respecting individual freedom more…
    Wondering how they would react to live in relationships and sex before marriage!!
    Whenever I talk of higher studies abroad I get “Kalyanam pannittum padikkalaam illayo?!! En vendamnnu chollarai? Mtech mudikkaratha 23 aayidum illayo!! appo mappilai thedalam!!!”
    (MIND VOICE : “I m not even thinking of marriage in near future !! How are you dreaming about the kind of spouse I should have ??!! Totally illogical “)
    When I talk about hanging out with a guy “Appidi ellam chuttha pdaadu..Athellam tappakkum. Nammava paarthal naa enna aakum ??!!! Ithellam nalla illai. 6 manikku munnadi hosteluku vandhudu kettayaadi kondey”
    (MIND VOICE : “Oh!! I just had 2 -3 tequila shots ..Now how will I say that…And I just dont care If “Nammava” spots me on a birthday party of a guy friend who works with me”

    And how did you miss the non sense imposed on us when we are having periods???!! lol πŸ˜€

    It is true I would like to get rest but whats wrong if i m okay with doing less tedious things like cutting veggies or whats wrong if I touch someone??!!

    I can say for 100 percent sure that the real face of the “Chamathu kondey” comes out once they are outside the family. Just like I am the chamathu kondey for my family :p :p

    This is for all the chamathu kondeys who read this –
    1. Its okay to get some fashion
    2. Its okay to obey the elders and learn some cooking – Will come handy sometime in life
    3. Its okay to behave normally during periods (Although I would say do not go to temples and in your pooja rooms -for sake of respecting beliefs of others )
    4. Its okay to get married at 28 or 30
    5. Its okay to drink or eat non veg ( As long as you dont get addicted to alcohol or get indecently drunk)
    6. Its okay to go on romantic dates or have a boyfriend.
    7. Its okay to have guy friends.
    8. Its okay to have sex before marriage as long as you use condoms and dont do it for fun of it . Just dont lie about such big things . Your family who brought you up has the right to know .
    9. Its okay to not marry the guy you had sex with – doesnt have to end in marriage all the time.
    10. Its okay to reject a guy your family found for you if he has had no girlfriend, crushes or exposure to women in general. Its okay to prefer a guy with more sexual experience (Even if its through arranged marriage)

    Life is short !! learn to live it as happy as you can !!

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    1. Personal opinions may be varied on eating habits, drinking alcohol and premarital sex. But there is something called right and wrong. One has to follow moral rules. It is not nice to glorify immorality, drinking alcohol and eating meat, when they are harmful to the body and polluting to the mind. Why should we be eager to imitate western behavior? Indian culture is nothing to be ashamed of.

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  3. Venkatraman Subramaniam _/\_ nailed it mannnnnnn!!!!!!
    you got me hooked on “tolanjai!” πŸ˜›
    LOVED the way you have written it !!! The hash tags are the wittiest πŸ˜›
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this πŸ™‚
    Hope to see a lot many posts from you in the coming days πŸ˜€

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  4. Brings back those days when my paati would tell me these things ! Now she is much cooler and gives me fashion tips on what shoes I should wear with my LBD πŸ˜›
    Although I dont relate to most of it, I’m sure all of these are still relevant to MANY today ! Absolutely loved your play with words ! Hope to read more ! Cheers !

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  5. So sad to see a lot of people making fun of some of our valuable culture as regressive. Before you jump the gun, do keep in mind that the Christian cultures have gone to dogs primarily due to the pseudo liberal crowd of the West and what remains is 40 percent pregnancy amongst teenagers and a drastic drop in marriages in Spain, forget about divorced. Now that I have said this let me come to #1, the seat of the mind is called as kuttistha chaitanya and hence in our culture it is mandatory to stick a pottu . the hair is the place of the suksma chittha, hence trying your hair makes the thoughts tied up and non random. The pranic energy is of a very high value during the period time, hence the Vedas talk about a vratham during the same time for women. Like it or not there is something called stri Dharma and purusha dharma, meaning the natural instinct of a women and man , in animals this nature or dharma is intrinsic, in man it needed a religion as the Hindu dharma to reinforce the same. I can go on and on on each of the above, but it is but sad that none of the authors of Vedanta and saints have not cared to write a commentary on the rituals of our dharma, perhaps rituals are not something to be written about but followed. Ask our selves, are our ancestors and the mriad of folks fools and we are the only intelligent people to have suddenly discovered this new found liberal living. While v the ancestors have been liberal in their thought which you might know from their lofty philosophy, it is only the conservative life style that has made such liberty in thought possible.

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    1. Ravishankar Thiagarajan sir, thank you for your comments.
      In continuation to my comment to Kalyani ma’am above, I would like to say that my concerns are: ignorance about the ‘reason’ behind these rules & the choice to follow them. I believe a lot of what you said about the Western culture happened due to ignorance of the people who practiced it.
      Thanks for bringing up the ‘chittas’. Not sure how many parents explain the chittas to their kids and then expect them to follow the rituals.
      In the times of gender equality, it becomes important to elaborate what Stree Dharma & Purusha Dharma are, how relevant are they today and would it be practical to live according to them today.
      Sanatana Dharma was conceptualised to explain an ideal way of living. As senior citizens, kindly take up the responsibility to educate it in the simplest possible manner with the supporting reasons… and then give them a choice. I am sure the younger generation will surprise you. Being liberal doesn’t necessarily mean being spolit. πŸ™‚

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  6. Hygienically speaking and healthwise it id better to take rest for 3 days .as regards thalai viruchindu irukkarathu. Even today on a death one is told to do certain things.i.e.nit to keep potty and not yo tie hair and with wet dress what all called inauspicious.100% change is not good for our culture.there us a meaning and sanctity in all our things.if all these are just to laugh as joke why the same chsmathu pin or pyan tell the same say 25% to their children.however we change we tamilians will not allow our children to live together without marriage.we are not animals after all.everything has got its own plus and minus points. Anything to extreme Is wrong.reasonable things have to be respected and adopted.

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    1. “reasonable things have to be respected” Totally agreed. And I respect your comments.
      Since you have taken it slightly seriously, would like to clarify that this post was written in good jest with the confidence that we TamBrahms can appreciate self-mockery & satire. πŸ™‚
      3 days rest is perfectly fine unless it becomes a concentration camp and the menstruating (there, I said the word!) women are treated as human beings.
      Truly, our forefathers implied a lot of ‘rules’… but a lot of them (if not all of them) had some scientific reason behind it. Over generations, people continued following them (may have even tweaked the rules or became lenient with them)… but without understanding the real reason behind each. Why? Just because they were ‘told’ to do so. Just because they were ‘expected’ to do so. And why does the current generation impose 25% of the same to their children? Because they have the same genes… how much ever they detest it and become rebellious about following it, they always intend their kids to be (and I am not saying this because it is the title of the topic) ‘chamathu’.
      No one is demanding a 100% change. (Hell, if that happens, what will happen to all our TamBrahm stereotypes :p ) Maybe whatever rules/commandments were imposed had its own reason too… so while imposing, just explain the reason too. And if it makes sense to them, it may only encourage them to follow it! Thanks πŸ™‚

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  7. These commandments were more relevant to the chamathu pon koyandais of 70s, 80s…max mid 90s… Eppo ellam indha mari rules ellam nadakave nadakaadu. Today’s Athais and Chittis are in step with their marumals. Yes each of what was written there has echoed in my ears for many years. Now my Ammai and MIL have reached the stage where they do not question why there is no pottu when I wear Western…

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    1. I have personally witnessed some regressive people even in today’s times. Fortunately things have been changing slowly for the better… hope the ‘restrictions’ and ‘compulsions’ stop and allow them to follow what they want to. As I said in the post, ‘let them live’.

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  8. hahahaha loved the article
    Thou shalt adorn poo with pottu in whatever outfit you are
    Thou shalt as far as possible study and marry an engineer or doctor or ca preferably in You Yes of Yay
    Thou shalt not sit kalu mele kal potundu bad manners

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  9. Oh my god…. I just relieved from all these stuffs….. As I fought and married non bramin guy, but the truth is that my fellow started being as chamathu kondey and forcing me to be rombaa rombaa chamathu aachara aathukaari πŸ˜‰

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  10. Hilarious and yet so true!!! Have heard a lot of these from childhood days but of course things are a bit different now πŸ™‚ Glad that in this generation, The Ammas’ and Appas’ , Mamiyars’ and Mamanars’ are becoming more liberal and they are allowing the chamattu penngal to be however they want to be!!!

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  11. OMG… Too good ..This was like my childhood relived…. Absolutely beautifully written .. Funny thing ippo naanom en ponn kondhey kitte ippidi daan chollaren.. Not all but most..lol

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  12. Tambrahm and Music was awesome.. I had saved it for my blog which is “in the pipeline” for god knows how many days.. πŸ˜› .. #thalamuzhugiaachu and “kannathulendu kai edu” ultimate.. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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    1. Great post. The last sentence – ha ha. Some of these should be thrown out of doors! I don’t know if many agree with me, but many of these traditions seem to be more in vogue in Tambram families abroad (esp US) than in metro cities in India. Perhaps to clutch at a culture that’s slipping away.

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