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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Unique Picnic

                                The Unique Picnic which was a great Revelation too.

                                   The Unique Picnic which was a great Revelation too.


Plenty of information is available as dry data and details in hundreds of websites about places of importance/places to visit/ places to stay etc on the net about any region.

So, any travelogue is worthless if it repeats these information/details.

Travelogues must not be like mere pamphlets of tourism promotion corporations or hotels or resorts.

Everything in life is about what we observe? How we enjoy and experience whatever we observe? How we relate with whatever we experience?

Ultimately what matters most is how we recollect our relationship with our observations and experiences and relate it to our individual life and if possible to life as a whole.

It is not what we touch but how we feel what we touch that matters and that defines our sense of touch better. It will be subjective or personal but then it would be a truer expression than a dry narration.

So I thought I would pen down a picnic more about all that I observed and experienced on the route of the journey as well as the destination.

For me picnic is not mere sight seeing or fun and frolic. I consciously look to observe without prejudice the social, cultural activities of the people and try to gain some experience. My picnic was to a village, to be more precise my daddy’s birth place Karur. We went from Coimbatore by road. It was altogether not only a unique experience but also a great refreshing revelation.

Unique experience because it was

Unique route:-

The route from Coimbatore to Karur on both sides of the roads, in most of the areas, had a cleanly cultivated green landscape of paddy fields and serried phalanx of coconut and banana trees [ a thing which is almost non existent in Chennai ] and yonder the uncultivated natural splendor of the western ghats[mountain ranges]. Nowhere else in the whole world within such a small geographical area one can see so many temperature zones.

Unique climate:-

Being the first half January the coolest period in South India, there was that pleasant cool breeze neither too chill nor too hot.

Unique festival:-

We reached Karur on the day of Pongal, there was a unique festive mood, a festival of thanksgiving to nature.

Unique scenes:-

All houses, from the tallest dwellings to the humblest huts were spruced up, cattle well bathed and decorated, eye-catching ‘Kolams’ [drawings/designs] on the floor/roads in front every house, studded with cow dung balls decked with marigold and pumpkin flowers, raw sugar canes stacked criss-cross, villagers mostly farmers boiling Pongal [a dish made of mixture of rice, moong dal jaggery, ghee, milk, cardamom etc in hand painted mud pots whose rims were adorned with turmeric plants with the root.

Unique aroma:-

When this Pongal boiled and the froth spilled over the rims to the cheering sound of Pongalo Pongal the combined aroma of this dish, the jasmine flowers with which the ladies had adorned their head, the other flowers offered for prayer to the Sun God drawn on the floor and the smell of camphor all together combed the nostrils and lingered into the brain cells, the strongest impact of a unique fragrance which no artificial perfume can produce.

Unique dress:-

There I also noticed some old women wearing a unique dress world’s biggest, best, unstitched/untailored single piece of attire the nine yards sari draped with such adroitness that it made them look graceful and most importantly it covered the entire body except the face, forearms and foot.

Unique Revelation of simplicity:-

Revelation was that the simple and humble people are spontaneous, honest and humane.

They relate with everyone and everything without inhibition, ulterior motives or hidden agenda. They had religious fervor but not fanaticism, passion in performing the festivities but no parochial exclusivity.

Religion here was a way of life but not enforced through any priestly authority or institutionalized sanction or sanctity.

There was in fact contribution in some way or other from people of various religions.

Here religiosity manifested respect for time tested values, reverence for the bounties that we get from nature unasked for.

Life was lively with natural harmonizing variety but not enforced homogeneity, a sort of plurality much practiced but less publicized.

Uniqueness about their unifying spirit with nature:-

It was manifest in more than one way not because they were surrounded by nature’s bounty but the way they related with everything and recycling everything. I saw near Karur at Thavalapalayam the way villagers were feeding the cows after carefully removing the spikes of the leaves of sugarcane saying that cow’s like those leaves and they are healthy too but those spikes may hurt their throat so we remove them with our hands and then feed them. 

Incidentally these leaves are called Thovai and these information about man-cow relationship will never get known in media because it is wont make return of awards nor these humble village folks get rewards for waste management.

There was this free blossoming of happy human spirit and humane interactions, a sort of manifestation of immense cheerfulness unmindful of their material poverty, lack of academic qualifications, failure to update information on many subjects, lack of awareness of the latest trends in fashion and dress. But then cheerfulness is an overflowing spirit of the heart and this coupled with humble consciousness is real religiousness. [Religion etymologically is also from the Latin, religare (re + lig = 'to bind'), that is, a linking of the part with the whole. Linking ourselves (parts) with the Universal Divine Self (whole) and need not necessarily express any great religion based on specific institution or script].

It was in short a real PICNIC

Inspiring and
Cheerful experience.

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