Blog post by Savithri Sundaram
Genus – Homo
Species – Tam-Brahm
Sub-species – Iyer,Iyengar and Palakkad Iyer
Variously known also as Paapan, Ayyaru, encompasses all sub-species and Brahmanan
Habitat – Originally the southern part of India.Increasingly to be found all over the world specially in America, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa, Australia. well I did say all over the world.
Plumage – The male of the species used to dress in pristine white veshti and shattai with his caste mark prominently displayed on his forehead. With evolution and displacement can be spotted in western attire. The female of the species is gloriously attired in rich colourful Kanjeevaram silks, and cottons, her ears, nose neck and hands sporting glittering diamonds and her hair redolent with the fragrance of flowers. With evolution and displacement is to be seen in western attire as also the ubiquitous salwar kameez. The pavadai, shattai and davani are preserved in moth balls and dusted and worn on special occasions – usually under duress.
Food – Herbivorous and rice eaters. With evolution and displacement we can find some carnivores too. Regardless of what wore they cannot do without thayir saadam. Libation of choice is of course filter kaapi served in a dabara tumbler. In descending order of preference Horlicks, Viva, Maltova and Moru. Tea, TEA….blasphemous. Instant, INSTANT.coffee…not even if it is the only thing available on the deserted island you are stranded on. Other more potent forms of liquid refreshment…Shiva, Shiva… only to be ingested and not spoken about.But things are changing.
Language – Tamil is the second language. As soon as Ambi utters a Tamil word he is identified as a TamBrahm. So distinctive is the lingo. As for the first language of a TamBrahm of course it is the Queen’s English.
Education – The true TamBrahm’s route has already been charted out when he was only an idea in the minds of his parents. If he happens to be based in Chennai then the school/s of choice are P. S Senior, or PSBB or Vidya Mandir or Sankara followed by any of the IIT’s, then IIM and the next flight to America. Anything else is sacrilegious.
Occupation – Averse to risk taking, they prefer white collar jobs. Apart from the Holy Trinity of Doctors, Engineers and Chartered Accountants, they make excellent teachers, bank/ railway / government officials.
Culture – It is de rigeur for both Ambi and Papa to learn Carnatic music and /or Bharata Natyam or play a musical or percussion instrument. The boys may rebel and even get away with it. Papa has no choice as she has to perform at pakkattu athu mami’s house for kolu and at the PPP……for the uninitiated….Ponnu Paakum Padalam.
Every TamBrahm worth his salt will migrate to Chennai for “The Season” in December. If you don’t know what I am talking about you automatically forfeit your membership to this club, my dears.
Religious beliefs – Devout and orthodox Hindus, tradition bound. Every large and small festival will be celebrated down to the last sheedai, or vadai or appam, or kozhakkattai or spoon of pongal.Flocks to temples in large numbers especially on festival days.
Marriage – made by Amma and Appa. Every relative is entrusted with the task of finding a suitable bride or groom. All hell will break lose if Ambi or Papa dares to choose his/her life partner. With changing times we now welcome East,West and North Indians with enthusiasm. The American, European, Far, Middle, South Eastern et al, is accepted with gusto. The ceremony itself is a happy blend of several cultures as is the cuisine. But Thayir sadam, no compromises there.Therefore has our Padma Lakshmi ensured that Ellen Degeneres featured it on her show? Vive la Tam-Brahm.