PAMPUKAVU

In Malayalam, pampu means snake and kavu is temple. Worship of snakes is perhaps as old as the land itself.The reason is obvious. When forests were cleared for human habitation, snakes were disturbed and snake bites are very common even in these modern times. So we try to appease the snake god.

All old houses had pampukavu. A small patch of land is marked off and the idol of cobra, made of granite, installed on a small mount. This piece of land remains undisturbed during the whole year except on the star day Ayilliam in the month of Kanni (September 16 to October 15, roughly) when just enough space is cleared of grass for enabling the poojari to sit and do the rites. Punnyaham(purification) ,Abhishekam(bathing) with milk, coconut water  and turmeric and offering naivedyam(things to eat) are the main functions.Now there are few houses with pampukavu. Pichakassery mana near the temple tank at Peruvanam is one where the virgin forest of pampukavu is still preserved, though too small to be called a forest! The whole Madangarli mana is practically a forest now with two pampukavu!

 

When I was a boy, my uncle at Pazhai used to do pooja at several houses.Beng old, he wanted to avoid it and told me to do it. I did protest saying I did not know how to do it, as I did not know the mantras.

He persuaded me as I may get some money as dakshina. The water for purification was made by him with proper mantras and I carried it in a kindi(a sort of pitcher). At one place, when I was doing pooja, a real snake appeared. I kept my cool and sprinkled punnyaham water on its head with all devotion! I was very much relieved when it withdrew to its hole !

WEALTH FROM WASTE

Japanese do not waste even urine. A number of useful minerals, including vitamins, are reclaimed from urine. Urban waste is processed for producing power, valuable compost being a by product.

In India, by contrast, disposal of waste is a problem, causing headache to the people and Government alike. In Trichur municipality, people of Lalur are protesting daily against dumping of waste causing unbearable stink.

There is a solution. The whole area should be walled off, temporarily with tarpaulin, to a height of twenty feet, after which, the wall can be tapered off to form a central hole to be provided with a chimney of considerable height . For the time being,the latter may be of polythene or some such material which will suck off the odious gas .

Will the authorities take note?

PURE COW’S MILK

When K.K.Raman’s cow calved, we started buying milk from him. I like milk which was a luxury till I started earning.

I was working at Ajmer. In those days, the main road was lined with shops selling milk and sweets. A big copper vessel, full of milk will be on the hearth, heated all the time. Milk brought from milkmen is directly poured into it from time to time and a thick layer of ‘malay’  forms at the surface, which is liberally added to the glass of milk, normally served in earthen cups. The taste is unforgettable! Milk and jelebi was the favourite breakfast of local people.

Nowadays, in all towns we get processed milk in saches and children do not even like the taste of pure milk

When I was young , cattle sheds housing a number of cows, was a common sight. There was no shortage of grass. Cow dung was used for plastering the earthen floor. It is supposed to protect us from tetanus and cholera. Scientists should take note of it and do some useful research. These days in Keralam, cows (not Raman’s) are fed artificial feeds , resulting in dung devoid of natural qualities. House flies and worms do not grow in it.

Bihar, the land of cowherd caste yadavs, is producing huge quantities of milk. In Keralam it is imported from Tamilnadu.

Raman says milking cow is strenuous. In this age of mechanization, devises for milking are a must.

TRAVELLING SALES MAN OF MY BOOK

My book CHILDHOOD MEMOIRS, page 140, cost Rs. 100, is still under print. As I like to walk, I carry some books with me .In Keralam, people who read English books are not common. Whenever I approach a likely customer, I have to spend some time, explaining the various thought provoking articles I have included in my book, like GLOBAL WARMING IS A MYTH. In the end, we depart as good friends. In educational institutions, many ask me to come again for informal discussions, which I readily agree!

 

Once when I knocked at the door, an elderly woman appeared. Without any enquiry, she quietly disappeared. I thought she may be a maid and wanted to tell her employer.After some time she appeared again  and offered to give me some change as alms!

RAJASTHAN ATOMIC POWER STATION-A TOURIST DESTINATION

RAPS is located in forest area, near the Chambal river, which is a good tourist destination.

The vast expanse of water in the Rana Pratap Sagar lake, the reservoir of the dam bearing the same name, itself is very imposing  and extends right up to the Gandhisagar dam in Madhya Pradesh state. The Atomic Power Station is on the southern, gentle slope. The opposite bank is a mountain where deer is a common sight! From the top of the hill housing officers’ quarters, one gets a panoramic view, covering dozens of miles.

As the depth of water in the dam is much less than required for working a turbine, Swiss engineers built a tunnel, leading the waters into it, situated at great depth, below the dam on the left bank, thus effectively increasing the height of water head. I think this is a rare achievement

In the forest in the mountain, a few miles away from the lake, is a water fall from some hundred feet or so. The water flows even in summer.At the bottom is a cave. Water drops fall continuously in the cave and is collected in a small rock bowl, naturally formed.

Now I understand that a jeepable road is available for tourists.

To the west of the dam, near the high way is the old Shiva temple, Baroly temple. It is a heritage under the department of archeology.Even though it was destroyed by Muslim invaders about a thousand years ago, enough beautiful carvings are still preserved in the granite structure for the enjoyment of tourists. It is worth renovating.

Every year, on Shivratry day, an unending stream of pilgrims visit the temple. The spot boasts of several springs and tall trees, home to a number of peacocks.It is a good picnic spot!

Charbhuja temple, with grand silver works and Bhaimsrodgarh fortress, both very near to the place, are worth visiting, the latter on the steep, vertical bank,which looks like a cutting in the rock made by invisible hands!Brahmani river joins the Chambal river at this point, providing protection to the fort from two sides. Beyond the Brahmani river lie fields of wheat and mustard (sarsom). In olden days Bhaimsrodgarh was the only inhabited area.

Kota is the nearest railway station

RETIRED PEOPLE AND THE BURDEN OF PENSION

 With better health care and living standards, average life span is increasing dramatically. The effect is a huge burden on society as whole. The liability of maintaining the old, including payment of pension, is causing concern in Government circles too. What is the way out?

 In most states, retirement age continues to be around fifty five, sixty in the Centre. At this age, a person is sufficiently experienced and reasonably healthy and active.Their brain power can be utilized by involving them in decision making, planning, investigations, supervision and in many other areas like research in history etc Bio data of retiring staff may be collected in a suitable website.Employers may consult the site for using their services in stead of engaging inexperienced and unreliable youngsters. Giving employment to new people, at the expense of prudence, need not be a prime consideration.

THE UNIQUE LAND OF KERALAM

What strikes a casual visitor is that, while people in the rest of India live in clusters of dwellings called villages, people here live in individual houses, surrounded by a patch of land, fenced off with bamboo or palm leaf railings.Until recently, there were no merchants or cobblers!People wore a simple white piece of cloth called mundu. Women had no blouse even in my childhood! Of course , footwear was unknown.

Food consisted of rice and vegetables cooked in water, without dhal.

Long ago, India was ruled by kings.But, Keralam was divided into sixty four gramam, each a village republic, ruled by local brahmans known as namboodiris, extending from Kasargod to Kanyakummari! The headquarter of each village (gramam) was a temple.

There was nothing we call a state.Peruvanam, Sukapuram, Panniyur etc. are some of these villages.

Namboodiries developed astronomy and medicine.Today, Kottakal Aryavaidyasala has great reputation outside Keralam too.Literary  and cultural activities developed simultaneously.Among nairs and namboodiries (except the eldest in the latter), there was no marriage ceremony.Just a liason called sambandham, which can commence and end at any time, was the order of the day! As it was difficult to identify the father, property was bequeathed from mother to children- a system termed marumakathayam.

Namboodiries are notoriously divided and quarrels among various villages became so unmanageable that a king (Cheraman Perumal) was invited to rule God’s own country!