Evening Prayers and Childhood Memories

Hello World!

That was the first computer program we had to write in BASIC, PASCAL, COBOL and C in the first year of the graduation. It seems Byron S. Gottfried was determined to make every Computer Science graduate to wish the world. Noble soul!

Later on, when I could actually lay my hands on the sales figure of the book over the years as a publisher, my doubts were cleared. He indeed made millions say ‘Hello World!’.

This is what happens when you start writing without having anything on your mind. I haven’t written anything for almost two months now. And this morning I was like itching to pick up the laptop and go sit on the terrace and scribble some gibberish. Alas! The humid weather and not a single leaf moving made me opt against it.

But here I am. Finally sitting with a blank document, struggling to write something. And then it came. Muse, of course!

Had the most beautiful fifteen day vacation in my life with all my loved ones in one place. And guess what by the end of it, Mom’s pension too got through. Nine months! The relief on her face is therapy to all of us.

evening prayer

Saw the pic above. That’s a regular practice in many of Kerala houses till today. Evening prayers. Reciting Namah Shivaya, Ramayana or other shlokas with elders in the family. The Nilavilakku is integral to several rituals and ceremonies in Hindu families in Kerala. As the sun rises, young girls of the family bring the lighted lamps to the verandah of the house, continued with evening prayers.

The last time I remember having this kind of evening was when both Muthachan (maternal grandfather) and Ammamma (maternal grandmother) were alive. In 1990. Ammamma, Amma or Mema (maternal aunt) would light the Nilavillakku (Nilam in the Malayalam/Tamil language means tall and vilakku means lamp), show it to the Thulasithara (the holy place in the courtyard where Basil is grown and worshipped) and the Paambum Kaavu (Abode of Snakes, is a traditional natural sacred space seen near traditional homes in Kerala) while slowly chanting Deepam, Deepam, Deepam and then put the lamp in front of the Mahalakshmi photo that was worshipped with special pooja on the first Friday of every Malayalam month. We were then made to recite Namah Shivaya. Mema would then feed us along with a story or two. Walking with her in the courtyard with just the moonlight to accompany us seems to be one of the most beautiful memories of my childhood. I was so attached to Mema that when she finally got married at the age of thirty, I created such a scene on the eve of her wedding. I was eleven then. That was not all. I bit into her husband’s hand a day after their wedding and prayed that it gets infected. I guess her wedding and subsequent change of residence meant another blow to my little heart which was already bleeding due to Dad’s foreign assignment. It felt like I lost her forever. I still love her, but that warmth has been lost somewhere in those fading lanes of my childhood.

A big thanks to Girija Aunty at the home stay for helping revive those beautiful childhood memories. By the way, she happens to be the namesake of my beloved Mema. Love you lots, Girija Mema!

Stay tuned to more such updates from my recent travel on this space.

21 Replies to “Evening Prayers and Childhood Memories”

  1. Ah! Good ol’ childhood memories. And to be able to relive those with your children – pretty priceless.
    I kept a look out for most of your travel tales and photos via FB, and I’m glad that you had a wonderful time. Of course, a pity that lil love fell sick, but i guess that happens with kids.

    Looking forward to the rest, Rex

    1. Priceless indeed. More so to be able to see them enjoying with their grandparents.

      Vacation was very good. Li’l Love is much better now. Having come back, it seems most of her illness was out of fear of insects, lizards and her little hyperactive brother. 😀

  2. Ah you just brought some beautiful memories of my own childhood vacations in Kerala rolling back, Rekha! That was beautifully expressed. I can imagine how wonderful it must have been for you relive yours with your kids. So glad for you.

    May you have many more such memorable holidays with your family 🙂

  3. Such beautiful memories, Rekha. So beautiful to do the things you did in your childhood with your children. Kerala is so beautiful and I saw your lovely clicks on FB. Having the entire family together is extraordinary. So happy that your mother’s pension issue got resolved as well.

    1. Thanks Rachna! We never had any vacations as children. So these trips are as exciting for us as much as it is for the children. Mom’s pension getting sorted is one big rock removed from my head.

  4. Good to read you could relive those fond memories and that this time your children were a part of that experience, making memories of their own. There is something so serene and lovely about the photo as well as the feel of your writeup. Enjoyed your pictures too on FB about your travels.

    1. Thank you so much, Beloo! I guess the trip was extremely important because I only get to travel to my home state once in 4-5 years. And when the entire family reunites at the same place, it is all the more fun. The kids enjoyed every bit of it, except for the mosquito and insect bites that took almost a week to heal.

  5. Hey Rekha, Those were the days, my childhood and yours seems so similar, Infact I live off the memories of my childhood in a small town in Kerala and the evening prayers were an integral part of it. I have also blogged about it long time back. So happy to hear that Teacher’s pension has finally gone through. take care

    1. Thanks Di! Mom’s pension was a pain for all of us. I guess having been financially independent for so long, she couldn’t bear the delay in the receiving it for someone else’s mistake. For those of us who have had wonderful childhood summer vacations in Kerala and are now settled amidst the crowded and dry metros, these memories are a reason to smile. 🙂

  6. Lovely traditions and I am sure it’s wonderful having to experience these with family. Some traditions stay with us and become part of who we are. Your post made me think of my childhood days.
    Btw – your pictures are awesome and I loved your FB updates. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Parul! I enjoy traditions and rituals because you get to learn a lot and can enjoy them irrespective of age. Also, sharing these is very important because I doubt the next generation will be able to witness even half of it. I’m glad you enjoyed the picture posts. I enjoyed sharing them too. 🙂

  7. So true rekha, This is a regular ritual and practice in my home too as we are maharashtrian brahmin family it is part of life, we all gather to say evening prayers, ganesh vandana n arti, ramraksha, devi stotra…etc. It gives such positive vibes to bless our soul. I try to keep the tradition alive your post was touching in the similar way.

    1. Thank you for dropping by, PraGun! Positive vibes. That’s the thing. And like you, I try my best to keep traditions alive. I want my girls to witness them as long as I can do it for them. They learn so much from these. 🙂

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