Ancestral House by Srividya

Blog post by Srividya Bharatrajan

The term “Our House”  brings memories of our Ancestral house where my Thatha & Patti stayed in an Agraharam in our native place in Trichy district. There was greenery all around. A canal used to flow closeby.

The house was huge.  It had a huge vaashal (front) Thinnai (portico) in the front , two huge halls  There were four smaller rooms adjoining the big halls. The house was very well ventilated with wooden beams.

The vaasal thinnai with an  inbuilt stone bench & backrest  was the place where all the kids of the house would spend maximum time of  playing all day long. Thatha had a fixed place in the thinnai where he would spend time with a visiri ( hand fan) and newspaper after the shiva pujai in the morning. We grandchildren had to take turns to fan him sometimes and we would grumble ” yen kaiya vallikardu thatha!” He was sweet enough to allow us to stop fanning him .The thinnai had a huge wooden door to enter the first hall which was called the ” rezhi”.

The main hall had lots of ummachi padam ( framed pics) on one side of wall where thatha would do “shiva pujai” daily. It was in the main hall  where everyone would spend time together, have meals, sleep.

We used to have food on banana leaves. Post food the operation “yechhal idurdu”  on the floor with cow dung was done by the ladies. We as kids from the city would say “yuck” – shaani ( cow dung)  na thoda maten!

Some afternoons we would sit in a semi circle  with our hands outstretched , Patti would tell us kadhai (stories) and place the thayirja, rasamja , kozhambuja on the palms. It was so much fun. Food bonded us!!

Afternoons were spent playing board games like “pallanguzhi” Anju kala ( 5 stones”, “dhaayam kattam” wherein the dice were cuboid  , and the board was drawn with a chalk piece on the cement floor.

The wooden staircase to the terrace was very narrow. On the terrace floor at a place above the hall was an opening. The idea was after the grains were kept in the sun for some time, instead of carrying the grains down, it was pushed through the hole on the ceiling of the hall ( floor of terrace) to avoid carrying the sacks down.We kids  equated this to a secret opening and were thrilled to see it in action every time!!

There was a separate room near the kitchen where firewood would be stocked for lighting the fire for the hot water .  They called this area the ” venneer room” ( hot water).

There was also an “aatukal” and “oral” in the back thinnai near the kitchen area.


At the backyard was a well,  bathroom with a makeshift screen arrangement that was kept during bath time for the ladies. Initially there was a dry toilet  in the area behind the kollai ( backyard) when we were very small, Answering nature’s call especially in the late evening meant carrying a torch!!. & Amma had to accompany us . It was a real pain!
Thatha understood our pain &  later an Indian toilet was built in the kollai area.

At the “kollai” backyard some vegetables were grown. Lots of mardani bushes were there. And we would apply mardani on our hands after the ladies of the house arachofied it in the ammi kal.

There was a well in the backyard and the older cousins would draw water from it and would try to teach us the younger ones too.

Evening time there would be lots of mosquitoes. A plastic sheet smeared with oil would be hung  ( just in case the mosquitoes sat on the sheet, they would get stuck). On the days we had mardaani applied on our hands at night , the kosus would have a feast on us!!There was no ceiling fan, Only one table fan used to be there and we would as kids take turns to be near it . The table fan would always be placed near to Grandpa.

There was a kovil close by and we would sometimes go there for umachi darshanam. Poo kaari would come daily in the evening with strings of malli poo nd kanahambaram for the ladies and petthis of the house. We would have lots of nongu  (palm tree fruit)

Going out meant travelling either in a bullock cart or bus. Since we would be there only for a few days, we would be pampered so much by all the neighbours and by my grandparents.
Looking back staying in a village had its charm. Life there for us as kids was carefree, so different from the life in the city where we were staying with our parents. Maybe  as kids it was fun time for us. And the generation of my mother would be always busy at the kitchen . Grinding the batter for some food varieties, pounding grains etc was done by the ladies manually. I realize it would have been tough for them. Today I am in that age bracket where I am supposed to be in the cooking department and I would certainly not enjoy being in a village ( if it was a time without gadgets like those days)
Now , that house has been sold. No one from the family stays in that village. My desire is that someday I would like to go  and visit the place during this lifetime.

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5 thoughts on “Ancestral House by Srividya

  1. Your post reminds me of my mum talking about her grandparents’ place in Agraharam which she used to positively visit every summer with her first and second cousins. Sadly, that house has been sold and like your case no relative lives there anymore either.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your blog took me 37years back to my grandparents home in Shekaripuram(Palghat). Vivid memories include :
    stoning mangoes for grandma’s Oorugai jar;
    the procession of dummy Aanai, Kudurai, Shingam etc every night during the theruvu koil Utsavam- a real treat to watch with Vadi(fireworks)& petromax light after gramdma wakes us in the midst of our deep slumber;
    Waking up when power cut disturbs our peaceful sleep with mosquitoes gleefully attacking us.
    Not to forget stealing paati’s tasty crispy murukkus from her tin boxes stored safely in her store room.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite nostalgic, all TB homes of long ago were similar.
    Great poets were born, one who saw the rice fields drenched in rainm wrote of his walk,
    (beats Wordsworth) watched little fish jumping out and dropping back, “How stupid can
    you be, do you notice the egrets watching out for the prey to show off?”

    Liked by 1 person


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