Head Deepaavalis – a tale of promotions and bussvaanams

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It is the day after Deepaavali. In North India, it’s called Diwaali because they have a taste for Sanskrit consonants. So they swallow the “Pa” and the word ends up sounding like the area between San Mateo and San Jose or perhaps, a tennis shot Boris Becker specialized in.

More specifically, it was my Thalai Deepaavali. For the uninitiated, the prefix does not refer to this guy. It refers to the celebration of a married couple’s first Deepavaali, where families and well-wishers gather to

  • Hog sweets
  • Hog savouries
  • Help certain Tirunelveli based garment businessmen in the area of T-Nagar rise from abject poverty.
  • and generally employ several verbal tricks to subtly and unsubtly suggest that the couple needs to, well, turn into couple + 1.

Every maami and maama on whose feet we fell, collected cash served on betel leaves, and allowed yellowed-rice grains to be deposited in our scalp, spared no chance to tell the both of us that the future of the propagation of the human race rested on our shoulders. And therefore, we must positively produce a Homo Sapiens Infantus asap. But they did so in several interesting ways. I referred to it briefly in an older post – here

The Promotion seekers

“Dei. Ennada? Eppoda enakku promotion?” (Hey. What man? When am I going to get a promotion?)

Here promotion generally refers to the following.

  • Grandmother -> Great Grandmother
  • Father -> Grandfather
  • Mother -> Grandmother
  • Uncle -> Grand Uncle
  • Great Uncle -> Great Great Uncle

and so on.

The Accountants

“Dei. Oru number kammiyaa irukkey” (Hey. One number is less no?)

This is usually followed by a smirk/grin/wink to suggest that he is not referring to bank ledgers.

The Indirect Logicians

He: Dei. How old are you?

Me: 30.

He: (with expression bordering shock and the line-of-control in Kashmir) 30 ????

Me: Why? What happened?

He: By the time your first kid grows up and gets settled, you will be close to retirement.

Me: What if I adopt a 5 year old 3 years from now and get a head start?

He: Adoptionaa? That and all will not work.

Me: Ok. What about adogtion?

He: Adogtion?

Me: Adopting a pet.

He: Dei. Joke adikkariyaa?( Hey. Are you hitting a joke aa? )

The Closet Gynaecologists

The wife is usually subject to a different set of procreative pressures from the senior leddies in the family. And this is one of the most popular lines of attack.

“If you don’t have a kid right away at this age, you will have problems and complications later”

This is usually followed by some ominous case studies to drive home the nasty dangers of not adding one member to the human race by the next 9 months.

But we got past all of that without too much trouble. We then set out trying to finish all of the crackers. We separated out the girlie stuff (bussvaanams, sangu chakrams, sparklers, saattais etc) and the guy stuff (Hydro bombs, double-sound, rocket bombs and lakshmi vedis) and while it was fun aiming the rockets at neighbouring houses for a while, I soon got bored and we simply distributed all the remaining fireworks to a small boy who happened to pass by and the girl who delivers jasmine flowers home daily.

And that brings me to the Great Indian Population Leveller – Sweets and Savouries. Cumulatively, these deadly calorie filled taste-grenades do more to reduce our life expectancy than trivial things like air pollution. While Deepaavali sweets and savouries have increased in variety over the years, I made a list of what is considered to be traditional Deepaavali fare.

Laddoos – Made with Kadalai Maavu (Besan)

Mysore Pa – Not the ubiquitous Sri Krishna sweets variety, but the slightly hard, tooth-decay causing variety

Maalaadu – Powder balls designed to choke one’s mouth and spill all over the floor when being consumed. I am also informed that this one is more of Tirunelveli thing.

Thengozhal – Small, tubular, fried delicacy made with Rice and Urad flour.

Mullumurukku – Murukku originally designed as an oral equivalent of the ascetic bed-of-thorns.

Om Podi – Food item that starred in Ardh Satya. Also features in Bhel Puri.

Mixture – The classic recipe features Om Podi, Boondi, Puffed Rice (Aval), Chutney Dal, Groundnut, Cashew nut, fried Curry leaves, Asafotida and salt. Goes very well with filter coffee. But my personal favourite variation is the Cornflakes mixture from Sri Krishna Sweets.
And last but not the least, the legendary Marundhu – The digestif made out of 8 ingredients – Pepper, Rice/Kanda Thippili, Ajwain, Dried ginger (Sukku), Coriander, Chitthratthai and Adimadhuram ground to a paste and cooked with ghee (clarified butter) and jaggery. Eating this stuff is the digestive system’s equivalent of the Marathon runner grabbing glucose and water after every few miles.

30 responses to “Head Deepaavalis – a tale of promotions and bussvaanams”

  1. Voracious Blog Reader Avatar
    Voracious Blog Reader

    Om Podi: Oma podi signifying that Omam is being used.

    maruvi Om Podi ayiduthu

    Thengozhal: Thenkuzhal. Kuzhal meaning the tube.


    Adogtion: hee hee.

    The “Marundhu” is called Lehiyam, which I am sure you are aware of.

    Mysorepaagu: Yes, nothing equals the original one. They are not to be seen now-a-days in shops. 😦 Everybody hands out the Sri Krishna variety.

    Voracious Blog Reader

  2. Durga Prasad Avatar
    Durga Prasad

    Hi Krish,
    Good that you said deepaawali …..not diwali(I liked it).
    Any ways ……
    Belated wishes for deepaawali. Hope, you enjoyed alot with all the sweets listed above.

    Let me ask you one question.. (out of curiosity)..
    would you mind telling me how did you make your profile picture..??

  3. krishashok Avatar

    You are right πŸ™‚

    Open in photoshop, and apply these filters appropriately. I say so because the final effect depends quite a bit on the color/light characteristics of the original photo.
    Artistic>Poster Edges Filter (10,1,6) but adjust accordingly
    Noise>Dust and Scratches (1,1)
    Stylize>Diffuse (anisotropic)
    Artistic>Film Grain (2,16,10) adjust accordingly

    Hope it helps πŸ™‚

  4. Durga Prasad Avatar
    Durga Prasad

    That really helps…!
    Thanks very much.

  5. Voracious Blog Reader Avatar
    Voracious Blog Reader

    hey Krishashok,

    Forgot to wish you.

    Happy Thalai Deepavali.

    Sidenote: Thalai-key thalai deepavali-a??

    Voracious Blog Reader

  6. Ashish Avatar

    nice post dude..
    happy diwali ..I am in hartford these ……Ornob ..( thanks for screwing his name every time ..though you are not alone ) and Aditi just went back to India ..

    Keep hitting the keys!


  7. Marc Avatar

    Please avoid Krishna sweets. Their ghee and sugar laden milk sweets are nauseating.

  8. rambodoc Avatar

    Speak for yourself!
    Thenguzhal are not tubes, are they? They are spirals or cylindrical spirals or Mobius strip dietetic equivalents.
    Come to think of it, there was a hollow cylindrical one without the spines. I wonder what it was called.

  9. Indiaholic Avatar

    You never had to encounter the: “We are already 80, I don’t think i will ever be able to see a grandson. Sigh” types, have you?

  10. […] does that mean? Krish Ashok explains: It refers to the celebration of a married couple’s first Deepavaali, where families and […]

  11. krishashok Avatar

    Yes. Your geometric description is spot on. And I have no idea what the hollow one is.

    Well. The 80 year old types have enough grandchildren and great-grandchildren to worry about so they aren’t much trouble.

    He he. While you sit and suffer with $9.95 all-you-can-eat Pnjaabi buffet, your wife and kid will be hogging real Diwaali fare. Shame on you.

  12. Marc Avatar

    rambodoc, the next time I get some, I’ll mail them to you. I really can’t eat them. I tried.

  13. maxdavinci Avatar

    happy deepavali machi, its hard to get away from the dry fruit boxes, the 1000 wala ladis but then everything comes at a price…

  14. Giridhar Chandrasekar Avatar

    Wish u a very happy ajeet deepavalai… πŸ™‚

    I once read somewhere….. thala deepavali signifies that a person’s head is on the roll after that specific deepavali….. until then he is puthu mapilai… after that he is thala of the family…

  15. rambodoc Avatar

    If I am left alone for a day with their halwas and mysore paaks, I will do enough to grow breasts!

  16. Vasoo Avatar

    Hey Krish,

    Hope you had a great thalai Deepawali with the customary “eppo engalakku nalla sedhi solla pore”…:-))))

    the other way of asking is , if you have a niece or nephew – indirectly asking them – “ennada kutti eppo onakku thangai (or thambi) pappa vara poradhu”….

    Coming to think of it i thing “Deepangalin Oli” gotcha maruvufied into “Deepawali”

  17. Aqua Avatar

    Happy 1st Diwali to you and the wifey. fun post as usual. and believe me…it never ends. once y’ve had the first…the same motley crew will be back hankering for the second one! and a brand new set of reasons πŸ™‚

  18. Vivek Avatar

    hey thalai

    belated wishes for diwali. as usual your post brought a (happy) tear in my face. perhaps you ought to be a script writer for some movie like crazy mohan…..movie would be in tanglish i guess.

    oru doubt….did you have a talai onam as well πŸ˜‰

  19. Vi Avatar

    From what I learned, lehiyam is made mostly of ginger and marundhu is up of the ingredients you listed, na?

    Hope you had a lovely Diwali πŸ™‚

  20. Bikerdude Avatar

    My sympathies reg procreation πŸ˜›

    LOL about the chukkumo Laguthi Pali deepavali marundhu. Considering its main ingredients are ghee and jaggery πŸ™‚

  21. RK Avatar

    Hi Ashok,
    Elders of the family specifically your parents asking for a VARISU ie grand daughter or grandson
    is a genuine and usual request.
    Adoption or adogtion is not expected of from the
    newly married couple.
    The pleasure of having your own child is something different .
    As per Tirunelveli style instead of Marundu
    INGIGEERAM ie Ginger,jeera and dhania will
    be grounded raw and it will be made into a paste with jaggery and little ghee.
    Hope you had a nice Deepavali.

  22. krishashok Avatar


    Thank you πŸ™‚ I had a great deepaavali and hope all you did too.

    I know it’s a normal, usual request, but as long as the couple can keep saying “yes yes later later”, and the elders can cheerfully continue sprinkling rice grains on our heads, everything should be ok :).

  23. Rekha Raghavan Avatar

    Too late to wish you ‘Happy Thalai Deepavali’. As Giridhar mentioned, you are no more pudhu mappilai and will only have simple normal deepavalis in the future.
    However, welcome to ‘little over newly-marriedhood’ – you will have to face these qns until you silence them with the cries of a baby.
    You also left out one category – the ones who straight away assume something is wrong with one of you and that you ought to see the doc with no further delay.

  24. Pradeep Avatar

    Maaplai…sama gujaal pandre nee… Sirichu sirchu…vayaru ellam valikeethu…

    Adogtion, Adoption ellavam vena maaplai…suma try paanu ellam seriya varum…

    Super post dude…great fun…

    Tagged you…

  25. desigirl Avatar

    Mullumurukku – Murukku originally designed as an oral equivalent of the ascetic bed-of-thorns.

    how the hell do u manage to come up with these things???!!!

  26. krishashok Avatar

    thanks maams.

    honoured. I just think Tamizh people, in general, have a thing for good similies. The language is full of them. All I do is think in Thamizh and translate to English.

  27. desigirl Avatar

    am a good, honest to god tamizh ponnu. for the life of me i cannot come up with such isms! you go, dude!

  28. pr3rna Avatar

    The best Diwali ( Deepawali)post I have read so far.
    We have the same expectations about reproductive issues here in North India too. A couple of months after marriage the relatives especially the old ladies start enquiring about”good news” and there can be no good news expected from a married couple other than that of a new arrival in the family!!!!!

  29. Saffrontrail Avatar

    I spot one cycle gap la gender discrimination here πŸ˜›

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