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Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Coming of age - shobanam.
One of my village children, Kavya, has come of age. Varalu called up and told me. This is traditionally seen as one of the stepping stones in life, and traditionally a function called 'shobanam' is performed. The earlier function and first function for the child would have been the ‘purudu ceremony’ 11 days after birth. Now after the ‘shobanam’, the next would be marriage, and then the funeral.
This is also when the girl child starts acquiring some assets in her name. She would ideally get a pair of small gold earrings, or something more, or something less, as would be the family situation. This will stay her own through life, as it would be given publicly and acknowleged publicly. So through her marriage also this would be her own asset – a certain form of security.
Once the child attains puberty, a small hut is constructed of branches of the mushti (Strychnos nux-vomica) amd the uduga (Alangium salvifolium) trees. These branches keep away gaali (spirits) from affecting the girl. A broom or slippers are also kept outside the hut for the same purpose. Similarly a cow horn is also kept in a pot along with some mushti and uduga leaves. The girl stays in the hut for eleven days. Some broomsticks and mushti and uduga leaves are kept near the girl and whenever she steps out, she takes them with her. The spirits have to be kept away as they may desire to possess a girl entering puberty. The girl takes bath on the first, third, fifth, seventh and eleventh day. After the eleventh day she formally reenters the house. Each of these eleven days, the child is celebrated and vandi techchedi (cook and getting delicacies) is performed by a relative who brings the girl some sweets and savories, or a full meal. The mother makes the girl sweets, and also balls of blackgram, jaggery and til oil. The girl would also be given blackgram and jaggery daily. It is said that this helps the blood flow. She is also given steamed rice flour mixed with sugar. Govindamma, the village midwife, said that this helps the hips become firm and strong.
On the eleventh day the girl enters the house in a new saree, carrying a pot. Then she goes to the temple. After that the nalugu ceremony is done where everyone in the village anoints the girl is anointed with turmeric and given betel leaf and betel nut by everyone. All relatives come and it is celebrated almost like a mini wedding. On this day the girl’s maena mama (mother’s brother) carries her up and down the village street on his shoulders. Gifts are given, and the girl starts her collection of sarees with these gifts! For the first three cycles, the girl is kept outside the house. If she goes to school on those days a Calatropis gigantica flower is tucked into her hair, and she carries along a couple of broom sticks.