Sunday, 25 May 2014

Laskmamma, now 70, tells me ...

She tells stories about customs … 

Lakshmamma is an Edduluvalu, a sect of the Dalits here. She says the tortoise is the aada bidda (literally ‘girl child of the family’, usually referring to the daughter who has been married away) of the Edduluvaalu. The tortoise is considered to be Sibbaalamma, their family goddess, also called  'Amma'. There is a story behind this. 

The daughter of the family had come to attend a wedding. She is not supposed to pound rice, but she started pounding rice for khajjalu (sweetmeats made of rice flour and jaggery). When she put the pounding stick aside, it got stuck to the wall. Then she left it there and set out for the potter's to get the ariveni, sacred pots that are the placed as the deity in marriages. As her children were troublesome, she put them under a bamboo basket and left. But the children turned into tortoises and crawled away. When she returned, she couldn’t find her children. Then she prayed to Sibbalamma to restore them, and promised that henceforth in her community married daughters would not participate in the nalugu ceremony before marriages. Even today the Eddaluvaalu have this custom, that married daughters keep away in thie ceremony.

Even now the Edduluvaalu do not eat tortoise meat, as the tortoise is Sibbalamma. If a tortoise comes home, they worship it with turmeric, kumkum, light karpooram before it and put flowers over it. They put a turmeric soaked cloth over it and release it in water. Lakshmamma said the tortoise used to visit her previous house in the lower street, but regretfully said it does not come here.

Lakshmamma describes scenes from long ago … how Yaavanna would come in yellow clothes on his horse. He would stop near the village temple, get off the horse, and sit down. People would treat him like a God and offer him worship with kumkum and turmeric. Coconuts would be broken before him and camphor would be lit. He would ask for a lamp and wash it with water and pour water into it and light the wick – the wick would burn brightly . Krishnamma, she says, conceived only after his blessings. When he blessed her Krishnamma  promised to give away everything valuable on her body – her gold nose ring, her earrings - after she conceived. But she waited in vain for him to come again, but he never came again.

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