I ate sugarcane today after eons. I still remember the days of yore when we kids used to spread plenty of newspapers on the ground and then seat ourselves in a circle around them and chew and spit the sugarcane husks away to glory. This was probably a negative calorie activity since tearing away the sugarcane's outer layer, chewing the inner layer, spitting the husk out and navigating through the sugarcane eyelets (kanu) used to be quite energy-consuming. This was the macho (and time intensive) way of eating the sugarcanes - the cut and cleaned pieces were for sissies. We kids used to enjoy this ritual a lot and it was one of the highlights of Pongal.
Today, maattu (cow) pongal day, as I stuffed yet another vada into my mouth at my parents' place, I was thinking about how Pongal has mostly lost its significance for urban dwellers. After all, hardly anyone living in a city is tending to farms in their backyards that they can give thanks to their hardworking farm-animals or for a bountiful harvest. Still, considering that Pongal comes with its share of festival food and celebrations, I really was not complaining too much.
Later in the night, as S and me set off home, we bade good bye to my parents and took the elevator downstairs. We were about to walk out of the building when the strangest sight met our eyes. Standing outside the building was a cow and her calf!
The cow had tiny bells tied to its horns. Both the cow and the calf looked resplendent in the silk clothes covering them and the garlands of flowers and glittering paper hanging around their necks. In front of them stood one of the ladies of the apartment complex, venerating them with aarti as the animal-caretaker looked on.
So what if we can't give thanks to our own cows? Just rent-a-cow :-)! Still, it was great to see maattu pongal being celebrated in its true spirit!
There is still one more day of Pongal left tomorrow. So:
Wish you a very Happy Pongal!