Of Thayir saadhams, Pazhams & Mandais – THE PROUD CLAN by Archanaa

Blog post by Archanaa Kumar

My school did not allow non-vegetarian to be brought in the lunch box (I am so glad), but then there were varieties of food packed in that small steel dabba and strong pungent smells of poondu, masala would float around between 12:20pm and 1 pm. Not that I disliked those fragrances (smell is a better word here?), just that too much of it gave me a sense of nausea. But Shalini’s poondu rasam was an exception, and I loved it- Amma hardly makes poondu rasam you see.

“What did I carry in my box?” you might ask, or you could just take it for granted that it was Thayir saadham and aavakkai/ maavadu with some veggies that amma would make for the day. Of course my friends called me thayir saadam, I did not mind, it has been one of the most refreshing meals ever, till date. And the deadly combos (combos that sell in Mc Ds and Pizza huts would have to do saashtaanga namaskaram and surrender to thayir saadam) are thayir saadam with vathal kuzhambu – sundakkai vathal it is …slurp, thayir saadham and veppelai katti, o yes we have narthangai maram at home and karuveppelai plants even today. Ok, let me not digress. Thayir saadham, the Tambrahm staple food I am happy to declare.

There was this boy in my class who was also pakka iyervaal, yes the thayir saadham category indeed , with the PATTAI and the RUDRAKSHA KOTTAI literally, no, he did not have the small kudumi though .I am camouflaging him as AMBI just so he doesn’t get pulled by his colleagues. Everyone in class used to call him PAZHAM (fruit), I am not sure why the name, may be associating with the gnyana pazham that our friend lord Ganesha managed to wittily win. Right, it is kinda apt, coming to think of it now. So this AMBI, was too good at studies, awesome Carnatic singer and had his vibhoodhi with a kunguma pottu in the centre of the nethi every day. To be frank, the sight of him gave a positive vibe, “Shantham”, I would term it. He was my competitor in class for the first rank, for the singing competitions and I would envy him for his cool headed wins (I was actually furious that he overtook me then) laughing at myself now for the silly stupid rat races,  it was fun nevertheless. I am sure you have met this guy in your life too, not ruling out the bleak possibility that you were one: D .Just a dose of nostalgia for the day, with some strong coffee –Besh Besh!!!!

Have you heard of stumps and bails, no not the real ones – the use Stumps and bails to refer to iyengars and Iyers. I got to know this recently in a discussion at workplace when the FC topic came up and they were like the quota for stumps and bails is meagre. “Which one are you?” they shot at me, I quickly imagined the stumps and bails and pat came the answer “Bails”. R. Ashwin “bails” out the Indian team quite often, now you know why ;).

We are a class apart, be it stumps or bails, and even in my neighbourhood there is respect, they quote “Iyer mama veedu”. The intelligent, helpful, calm group of people are my set of adjectives for Tambrahms and proud to be part of the clan. Speaking of intelligence, Mandais – yes there was this mandai ( to denote brainy) in my class too – not the personification of Tambrahm traits like Ambi , but an extremely clever Brahmin boy who would go places , my math teacher always said (kinda “ enga aatha appove solichu” dialogue in the movie) – of course he has gone places –doing high end research across the ocean. Paattu mami, iyer aathu mama, pattai, jadai, panchakacham, malli poo, maakkolam, appalam,pattu paavadai and the unique terms are endless.

Wherever we go we stand out unique for the very nature of us .Just one more thing and I am off for today. There have been so many changes since the day I was born (late 80’s – yeah about time to turn 30 😦 ) till date and we Tambrahms have also adapted to changes. We wear 9 gajam
(9 yards) and panchakacham when required but also wear formals and stand professional with head held high, cross-band across the chest and make our footprints all over the world in diverse fields. The very nature to learn and follow our religion, traditions and practices while adapting to the outside world and at the same time be open to changes that come our way and appreciate other cultures that surround us is what makes us unique. Irrespective of the pattai and jadai, we are Tambrahm – THE PROUD CLAN!


15 thoughts on “Of Thayir saadhams, Pazhams & Mandais – THE PROUD CLAN by Archanaa

  1. Though I stumbled upon this over a year after it’s been up on this site, I couldn’t help but comment on a lot of things
    I took offense with.
    1)Your school seems archaic and prejudiced in favor of vegetarians, presumably brahmans. I don’t understand
    why you have a proud tone when you describe it.
    2) “We are a clan apart”? “There is respect”? Is this 1916?
    Respect gained purely because of caste? Who knows how many tax evaders and wife beaters reside in
    those “Iyer/Iyengar veedu”s?
    3)”The intelligent, helpful, calm group of people”. Stereotype again. It’s precisely because of this mentality
    that we all suffer as a group. It is precisely because of this that the govt introduced reservation.
    Till we change this mentality that we are great just because we are born into a certain type of family,
    “quota for stumps and bails” will always be “meagre”. People like you are the reason why your cousin couldn’t get
    into IIM-A despite scoring the 99th percentile and why my son can’t get into Anna University despite 195/200 cutoff.
    4)”an extremely clever Brahmin boy who would go places ” extremely clever anybody will go places. Brahmins always had the
    edge over others ever since British Raj. We easily got access to education, English etc. Other people didn’t have that
    kind of leverage. How many of your Brahmin friends have an educated Grandpa/Grandma? How educated are your
    grandparents? In contrast, how many of your other caste friends have educated Grandpa/Grandma?
    5)”Wherever we go we stand out unique for the very nature of us”. I beg to differ.
    It depends on the person. I have no business telling this to anybody, but I have an asshole in my family who stole and
    escaped with 2 Lakhs of money in the ’90s. My friend’s grandpa was a drunkard. My greatgrandfather was a gambler.
    My maternal greatgrandfather was a male chauvinist who beat his wife. We are so called “Brahmans”. And I know what
    you’re going to say– “Those are exceptions”. I beg to differ. Idiots exist irrespective of caste and clever ones shine
    wherever they are. Please learn from Mr. T.M. Krishna. He’s a “fellow Brahman” too. He doesn’t care about caste or creed.
    He is helping so many less fortunate kids in the slums. Does he go around feeling proud of his jaadhi?
    6)Disclaimer– I realise you’re not specifically putting down other castes, you’re just being proud of yours. There’s
    absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nobody has to be ashamed of their caste history, whether slaves or slave owners.
    But, you should know the heavy history behind the “upper” caste. You seem to be well educated and you do have a weird
    sense of humour. You seem to be intelligent. I hope you can do your research to understand that while putting
    brahmanism on a pedestal and separating and being proud of “the clan”, you’re simultaneously undermining other people.
    It’s akin to a white person saying “All of us white people are intelligent and unique”. That would be considered
    borderline racist.

    “Mael sadhi enreer, Uyar kulam enreer, Manadhile thaazhndhu ninreer”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for propagating caste-based division and being proud of it too. I was going to share a piece of my wisdom but I feel it would serve no purpose.

      “… an awe for the Brahmins…” – seriously ?

      P.S: You should be really glad I didn’t point the grammar mistakes out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. PRIDE is what one is STUCK with, no one canchoose his birth mother. So one is left with it
    recognized with 700 years and the clan clings on to.
    But it does not make me different from others.
    The TB postings show that they do not know good Tamil, cannot write a sentence correctly, me too.
    None of their Revered Alwars were Iyengars, a group formed by Ramanuja, a SMARTHA, in the
    13th century. Converts are the best defenders!


    1. I understand your eagerness to express your views. The lack of proper grammar is a huge hindrance to your objective. As it is, I’m able to understand nothing from the pile of gibberish you’ve posted.


  3. Gyanam (rhymes with Dhyana(m)- Tamils add the m to it) means Knowledge, Vigynama is science, Gyanaa-Pazm can be translated to the fruit of knowledge.
    That is the only worthwhile Saram from the episode.


  4. Very well written 🙂
    Reminiscence of good old school days..
    True mom makes thayir saaham with little curd and more milk, and mango or lemon pickle beats any meal anyday.
    And the slight sleepiness it bring during the first period after lunch is such a pleasure and the freshness that little nap gives is so wonderful 🙂


  5. Very well written. Peace is quite smooth and your seem to have a flair for writing. Yes indeed we Tambrahm have adapted the new and yet proudly follow the tradition too. I am quite comfortable as coo in board meeting with coat suit and Thiruman nammam as much I am while delivering a lecture on technology or with panchakacham in a temple.



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