Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pani Tula and Nuani Tradition....Assamese Wedding Rituals

The wedding day started here with the groom's dad performing NAU-PURUSH SHARADHA(a special ceremony in honor of last nine generation ancestors from the groom's father side and the last three generations from the mother's side).It is like presenting the departed souls an invitation to this auspicious ceremony.Here you can see groom's dad performing the ritual according to vedic rules.
After the Shradha all the family members seek blessings from the priest to start the other rituals.Now you can see the ladies of the family preparing for PANI TULA which means collecting the sacred water for the ceremonial bath of the groom.This ritual is followed by both the sides.The bride wears a mekhela-chadar set presented by the groom's mom specially for this ritual and after the rituals she never wears that set again,it is left back or gifted to someone else.
Groom's mom and the other women mostly relatives and friends go to a river or a pond nearby to collect the water.A DULONI (a brass stand as you can see cousin of the groom holding in the picture above) is prepared which contains a lighted saki (lamp) over a heap of the same rice grain which was brought back from the bride's house during JURAN ceremony,one pair of tamul-pan(betel nut and leaves), a coin and a knife.Five earthen vessels covered with five mango leaves are needed - the main vessel is carried by the groom's mom and the other four by the other relatives.Ladies sing biya naam(wedding songs) and uluni(a special sound made by rolling the tongue inside the mouth).The group the proceeds to the river or the pond.
I don't have the picture where they collect water as i stayed back but i can tell you what happens there.On reaching the river/pond groom's mom takes the permission of the river to collect water by bowing .Here as the mother asks for the water another lady acting as the river questions her ..WHY HAVE YOU COME HERE? The mother replies MY SON IS GETTING MARRIED ,NEED WATER FOR HIS BATH FROM YOU.Again the lady questions WHAT YOU SAW ON YOUR WAY ?The mother replies I SAW LORD SHIVA AND GODDESS PARVATI getting married.Now the mother takes the knife in her hands and crosses the water thrice before filling her vessel with the water....all the five vessels are filled at the same time.Once done the group returns without looking back at the river site.
You can the see the group returning back to the house.The groom's mom sprinkles little water from the vessel at her house .Now they all go to the place where NUANI(ceremonial bath) takes place.
The groom follows his mom by holding an end of a GAMOSA(a traditional cotton cloth) while his mom holds another end.The group takes few rounds around the KOL-PULLI(a freshly planted banana tree),now the ladies keep the vessels on the ground and the groom sits on a special asana(seat).
The ceremony starts with the mother applying oil ,curd and a paste of haldi-mah(turmeric and urad lentils) the same process is followed by all the ladies present .Once this round is completed the groom's mom pours the sacred water from the vessel over the groom's head and again this process is followed by all the ladies present.WE smear the curd and the paste on each others face too.
After the bath groom wears a fresh set of cloth and seeks blessing of his mom and all the other ladies present.Within few hrs. the groom proceeds towards the bride's home for the main wedding ceremony.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thank You Speak Bindas

I was interviewed by Devang Vibhakar for his popular site visit the interview(click here) and let me know what you think of it.Have a great weekend ......all of you !!!Thank you !

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Juran .....Assamese Wedding Rituals

Well lets get ready for Juran a very interesting,fun filled pre marriage ceremony carried out one or two days before the wedding.It is going to be a long post even though i have tried to keep it as trimmed as possible.This ritual is performed by women.Here the groom's mom visits  the bride's house accompanied  by close relatives and friends.A function like this takes a lot of time and effort..Groom's mother gifts  the bride a lot many things on this day  right from the MAIN BRIDAL TROUSSEAU including an odd number of pairs of Mekhela Chadar(traditional assamese female attire,three piece in case of the main trousseau and two piece in case of an average) to  a complete make up kit(whoa),scented hair oil,a perfume,golden ornaments,sindoor(vermilion),a mirror,hair brush or comb etc.For other rituals two sets of things like coconut,doi(yougurt),two earthen pots filled with rice grains,a big fat fish,sweets or mithais,tamul and tamul paan bunch(betel leaves and nuts),haldi and urad daal for another ritual(it is used to bathe the bride and the groom at a later ritual).Once they reach the bride's house the groom's mom is welcomed by the bride's mom at the gate with a XORAI or BOTA in her hands which contains tamul-paan covered by a Gamosa.Some welcome the groom's mom by using a hand fan or bisoni and some using two paan leaves as shown here.Ajoli aunty(groom's mom) is being welcomed by Runjun's(bride's pet name) mom.My m.i.l and my husband attended this ceremony ....bride's home is in Tejpur a place four hours away from Guwahati.
Once inside the pandhal(tent),groom's side places a mat or a carpet on the floor which they bring along.A lamp and incense sticks are lighted(this too is brought by groom's side) .The groom's mom spreads few rice grains on the mat while the other ladies sing BIYA NAAM(weeding songs) and chant ULUNI(a traditional sound made by the women by rolling their tongue in their mouth....Sujata and Aparna i think you know what exactly it is).The bride arrives - her face and head covered by chadar ,she is accompanied by her friends and relatives.She sits near the groom's mom or from now on her mom-in-law.Aunty applied sindoor by using a ring to the bride's forehead and the hair parting.From now on she wears sindoor...if i am right Assam is the only place where a girl sports sindoor before her actual wedding takes place.Now the fun part begins..........
TEL-DIYA(tel means oil,diya means apply) aunty placed a bettle nut on bride's head over which the scented oil was applied on her parting thrice(she was extra careful not to disturb the bride's hair setting).
Now aunty and a couple of other ladies made the bride wear all the ornaments they had brought....i omitted those pictures because post was getting extra long) .The make up kit is opened ,little make up just for the name sake is applied ,scent is applied too -once done aunty took out the main Bridal- Trousseau which is always a white and golden mekhela chadar and reeha set and presented it to the bride as you can see here in this picture.The bride is shown her face on the looking mirror which groom's mom brings.But the bride is not allowed to carry this mirror along with her to the groom's house after they get married.Don't ask me why?It was very painful for me to part with mine as it was a silver framed beautiful my sister has it..huh..
In the picture below you can see all the clothes,gifts,etc presented to the bride.Now the bride is made to touch all the things like coconut,betel nut/leaves,yogurt(doi),rice,fish,haldi-mah....all these things are equally divided in two parts one is left behind to the bride's house another is carried back.The earthen pot is half filled by the rice grains given by the bride's side.
Bride's mom is gifted with a pair of Mekhela Chadar and a packet full of raw ingredients of a complete meal by the groom's mom as a token of thanks and gratitude for looking after their daughter for all these years so as now she is ready to leave their house.Touchy na?
Now many families keep the ornaments on this Bota and show it to all the people present.Before the refreshments and the meal is served groom's mom introduces the bride to all the elders and other people present ...the bride touches the feet of the elders ,in return elders gift her with any ornaments or in many cases money too.After the lunch groom's family returns back to their home..

 The next time when we meet i am going to tell you about Pani tula and the main marriage ceremony...till than take care. ....

Blog Updated :  Received this as a comment by reader Indrani Bordoloi .She says
Dear Indian Yarn,

In Assamese Culture white or off-white golden Baize mekhela -sador has very very significant role. Traditionally a married woman prefares to wear a white gold zari work assam silk mekhela sador only during anu Jurun ceremony of any bodies marriage. While again The Bridal Trousseau should be in white+gold combo for the actual wedding even I guess Assam is the only state where bride and bridegroom both wears the white golden costume for their actual wedding. Traditionally is believed that its glitters the colors like goldenish yellow which is a color of Vishnu or Krishna... typically Assamese follows Vaishnasim. interestingly in their wedding day the bride and the groom treats as Price and Princess also white reflects the symbol of purity and freshness significantly welcoming to their new life.

Well we have similarities wd Bengali Wedding becoz geographically again its our neighboring state.Like in Bengli have Kaal-ratri after the actual wedding we have Bahi-Biya where after the wedding when bride comes to grooms house the next day for the whole day nobody can see each others face, for the rest of the day or the next day when the Khuba-Khubuni will take place (Reception at grooms place)the following night is call Subha-Ratri or Madhu-milaan or 1st night :) Typically Yes the story of Beula-Lakhindaar has been believed that how Lakhindar dies after the snake bite on their 1st nyt and how Beula had go through tremendous pain and struggle to return his life back from Death God in West Bengal so being a neighboring state Assam also got influenced by the mythology and also it has been believed that after the wedding if none of the bride and groom can't see each other for one whole day the chemistry sparks basically in arranged marriages and they eagerly waits for the first night where a understandable and compromising life can ahead with love and care.

Putting vermilion into brides forehead by MIL is again has significant in Assamese tradition only instead of the groom the grooms mother puts vermilion on brides forehead or some times in absence of MIL any elderly lady do that (aunts ~Grooms) significantly before the Jurun Ceremony where all the gift specially cloths and Jewelries suppose to gift the bride along with the bridal trousseau that she has to wear in actual wedding all these items groom has to touch signifies that "not only I'm marrying u ..but with good grace and god and elders I'm accepting u as my wife and my whole family members and other relatives are welcoming u to our home and family. In jurun ceremony groom can't go or no young men are allowed to go accept very few elderly men from grooms side along with the ladies. Jurun is basically si ladies function.
Unlike Saree Mekhela-Sadors are in two pairs.

Kabita well written

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dulor Biya...A Glimpse Of A Traditional Assamese Hindu Kalita Marriage

Across the length and breadth of our country India we see many similarities as well as variations in the customs followed during a wedding.Last two weeks have been very hectic for us as Dul was getting married.Now let me take this opportunity to introduce you to Dul(a pet name),our families have been neighbours as well as friends for the last three generations.Once the invitation list is prepared the family starts inviting people personally,so it takes about a month or so to carry out the process.The wedding cards are very simply designed and written mostly in Assamese language and sometimes an additional English translation is added too.Traditionally the card or CHHITHI is presented along with two Paan Leaves (Betel leaf) and a Tamul(Tambul or Betel Nut) placed on a Horai or Bota(a brass metal stand) as shown above.
.Let me explain you that a wedding out here is a whole neighbourhood affair....for the last two weeks we all worked together and had fun together like a big happy family.Now a days most of the families book a Banquet or a Marriage Hall but it has been Burrah Da's(Dul's dad,he is popularly known by this name but i prefer calling him Uncle) dream to solemnise this marriage right from their home as they are fortunate to have a very large open compound .A big tent was erected a week ahead to accommodate 800 -900 guests for the reception after the weeding.
The tent was divided in two parts one was the sitting area and the another for serving the Buffet i.e. the eating area.It took two days to complete this structure.You can see these men working on it from such a height with out any support.Bamboo was used for the frame work and thick cotton cloth strips to hold them together,later it was covered by a water proof covering and interior was done just three days before the wedding.
This whole week i will bring to you different pre -wedding and post wedding rituals observed during DUL'S BIYA meaning Dul's Marriage.See you all in my next post.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A thought to the weavers of dreams

Shantaram’s eyes were weary. But he couldn't’t suppress the proud smile on his face. A masterpiece all the way, he thought to himself giving the six-yard wrap one last look. A brush of colour, a touch of tradition and an entire year of laborious craftsmanship... the meticulous weaves had finally taken shape. And it had been worth all the days of working round the clock for Shantaram’s family. After tying the knots on warp and weft threads, dyeing, colouring, weaving and finishing, the beautiful Benarasi Saree was ready. Thus starts an epic novel on the hand loom weavers of the most sought after Saree in the world - The Benarasi..

Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together".Benaras or Varanasi has the pride of being the one of the most famous Hand loom centers in the entire world. In fact it is among the few centers in the world that has painstakingly preserved the ancient tradition of hand weaving. The silk used for the saris was historically imported from China. Several first-millennium Buddhist texts mention Benaras fabrics, giving the indication that Benaras has been the center of fine textile weaving for at least two millennia. The earliest mention of the brocade and zari textiles of Banaras is found in the 19th century. With the migration of silk weavers from Gujarat during the famine of 1603, it is likely that silk brocade weaving started in Banaras in the seventeenth century and developed in excellence during the 18th and 19th century. During the Mughal period, around 14th century, weaving of brocades with intricate designs using gold and silver threads became the specialty of Benaras.

Benarasi silk saris are traditionally made in four varieties:
Katan (pure silk)
organza (Kora)
Georgette sari
Shatir sari.

Traditional designs of the brocade include jasmine (chameli), thousand emeralds (panna hazar), marigolds (gendabuti), betel nut leaves (paan buti), diagonal stripes (tircha) and the corner motif with a mango flower (konia). Originally the saris were embellished with threads made from real gold and silver for use by the royal family. In modern times, this has been replaced by gold- and silver-colored thread, making the saris affordable for the general population.

Making it affordable for the masses has also led to cheap imitations flooding the market, the power loom capturing the weaver's hand loom, rendering the rich traditional obsolete and endangered.
In a bare village work shed a man sits quietly working on a loom. Look closer and you notice that he is actually sitting in a pit dug into the earthen floor. Hari Ram is middle-aged, non-descript but his fingers weave magic as he works the traditional l pit-loom. A length of pink silk slowly emerges, shimmering with gold threads worked in elaborate mango motifs. He is weaving the traditional Benarasi saree for a bride to wear at her wedding. This silk is the stuff of dreams, of dowries, of rituals and sacred traditions. today thousands of Benaras weavers like Ram have little work and it fetches a pittance. Kumaoli village, where Ram lives, once had 70 looms. Today, there are four left. In dozens of villages around the holy city hand looms lie dismantled, broken, decaying. The women and men who worked the looms have now been forced into manual work to survive.
How did things come to such a pass? A fatal combination of mechanisation, computerisation and globalisation has ruined the hand loom work of Benaras. Traditionally, people here wove only silk. Mulberry silk yarn was sourced from distant Karnataka and processed by weaver families in and around Benaras who used it to weave silk, brocade, tissue, crepe, organza and other fine materials on their hand looms. Traders from the city would come to the weaver families to buy their products. The weaver could command a decent price for his labour.
Then came the power loom. Many rich traders set up power looms and copied the traditional Benarasi designs. A power loom can churn out in one day a saree that may take a weaver 10 days to make on a hand loom. Power loom sarees are light weight and cheaper and most customers cannot tell the difference between power loom and hand loom fabric.

A dying art, an incomplete trousseau! There are organizations in support of this art, a movement that has started to protect and cultivate this rich heritage of India. This is a tribute to the craftsman, to the wonder of an age old tradition, to a movement that is forming to bring back a dying art. Let's not blindly buy imitations when the originals are not only priceless for our wardrobes but also ensuring that a weaver's family gets his due!!

The current scernario has the Human Welfare Association (HWA) demanding a separate ministry for the handloom sector. Arguing for the aggressive promotion of the Handloom Cluster Development and Handloom Mark and Silkmark schemes as well as Geographical Indicator protection for Benaras handlooms. HWA has organised public protest by weavers, burning Chinese silk and demanding a ban on dumping.

HWA also started the Taana Baana cooperative which provides livelihood to over a thousand weaver families, helping them with credit, design development and marketing support, as well as alternative income generating opportunities. It has a small retail outlet in Sarnath and a turnover of Rs. 70 lakh. But, given the scale of distress among the weavers, Taana Baana is at best a demonstration of what needs to be done for the industry as a whole.

Posted by Sujata

Monday, November 23, 2009

Paithani Weave Of Maharashtra

56 kms south of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, on the banks of river Godavari, there is a small town called Paithan.

The town was the capital of the Satavahana empire that ruled the Southern and Central India more than 2000 years ago. And here, during that time, some weavers started creating poetry on silk which came to be known as Paithani.

The artisans would draw threads from pure gold and silver and intricately weave them with gossamer silk threads. The fabric thus created would be so dazzling that it inspired awe in everyone. The Greeks mentioned the silk of Paithan in their records. This precious fabric used to be imported to many countries in exchange of gold and other precious metals and stones by Ancient Indian rulers. Originally meant for the women of the royal household, the Paithani silk sari was the most coveted garment of those times.

2000 years later, sheer dedication of the weavers has kept the Paithani weave still alive in India. Though not drawn from real gold anymore, expensive zari (gold or silver yarn wrapped over polyester yarn) threads, procured from Gujarat and the best quality silk from South India are intricately woven together to create the magical Paithani saris that continue to mesmerize Indian women.

The weavers use the traditional wooden looms. Multiple spindles are used to produce a linear design. The weavers count the threads of the wrap for each part of the pattern and using tiny pins, interlock the silk or gold threads on the weft. The borders have creeper or floral designs. The pallav (the end of the sari) is woven in gold and the patterns are created in silk. Distinctive motifs such as stars, peacocks, mangoes, flowers, petals and coconuts are woven on the pallav.

Weaving Paithani is time consuming. The simplest of the saris take at least a month to complete. The more ornate ones take around three months. The skill has been passed on from father to son for generations. The weaving involves minute detailing and is stressful to the eyes. But the weavers are extremely dedicated to their craft and they toil for months to create exquisite patterns and designs.

A Paithani is expensive and why not...a Paithani is almost like an heirloom. It gets passed on to the daughter from the mother in most Marathi families. The sari is precious not only for the intricate weave of pure silk and gold but also for it's significant role in the culture of Maharashtra. Wearing the Paithani, is almost like wearing a 2000 year old heritage of this glorious country.

Pictures Courtesy: Mangalam Sarees
                             Palavi Handcrafts
                             Google Images


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Xewali / Shewali : Edible flower in Assamese cuisine (Night Flowering Jasmine)

Xewali phool or the Night-flowering Jasmine (scientific name:Nyctanthes arbor-tristis) is used widely in Assamese cuisine not only because of it's availability but also because of it's various medicinal properties. Assamese cuisine is fascinating to me because of it's inclusion of various herbs and greens-some of which are unique in characteristic.

In this post i am focusing the use of this flower which highlights the folk medicine culture in our food habits ....if somebody is interested an expert advice is suggested.Like many traditional Assamese household we too have this small tree or shrub right in front of our house.
The flower contains five to eight petals and a bright reddish orange centre,it is highly fragrant,if you pick the flowers your hands smell good for a very long time.One interesting fact about them is that they bloom only at night time as you can see here in these pictures.I took two shots one at day time where you can see many buds and another at night when you can clearly see the blooms.As soon as the first rays of sunlight hit them they fall ,it is a beautiful sight when you see a lovely and sweet smelling white carpet of Khewali-phool first thing in the is always rush hour for me at that time so could not manage one picture of the same.My mom-in-law and my kids collect the fallen flowers in a plate , some of which are offered to God later and most of it goes straight to the kitchen.Unlike other flowers this flower can be offered to God even if they are collected from the earth(or are fallen ).
One very interesting mythological story is attached to it...Lord Krishna brought this heavenly flower to earth ,now both of his wives Rukmini and Satyabhama wanted it to be planted at their own courtyard.Krishna solved the tiff between the two by strategically planting it at Satyabhama's courtyard so that the flowers always fell on Rukmini's courtyard.Now coming to its medicinal properties... many believe that it is a very safe de toxifying agent ,we also use decotation of its leaves for low grade fevers and body aches,many use the paste of leaves to the skin as it is believed to help in certain skin conditions.Pramathesh informed me that it is consumed empty stomach in the morning as an anti malarial agent.It is also used as a very safe purgative for kids and helps in relieving dry cough,faintness .I love it because of its unique flavour and can compare it very little to the flavor of Jasmine tea.
I admit that when for the very first time it was served to me i was scared to try it out but others assured me that i need not fear and must try it...and i did.I love it for its unique flavour and is prepared in various ways as i am a vegetarian i like this RICE-VERSION...where flowers are added to pre-cooked rice and fried together ,very less oil and no other spices except for turmeric and salt is used here to preserve its aroma and flavor.Assamese food is served in courses,so it is always served first because of its slight bitter taste,it is also termed as TEETA-BHAAT(bitter-rice) .Another very popular variation is FISH CURRY by adding these flowers ...loved by my kids and other family members.

A special thanks to Pramathesh and his friends from the office who helped me know the scientific name of this flower.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Indian Saree

The Sari, it is said, was born on the loom of a fanciful weaver. He dreamt of a woman. The shimmer of her tears, the drape of her tumbling hair, the colors of her many moods, the softness of her touch. All these he wove together. He couldn't stop. He wove for many yards. And when he was done, the story goes, he sat back and smiled and smiled and smiled".

Friends, let me tell you the tale of the Indian Sari, the 9 yards of unstiched cloth that graces the feminine figure with ardour across our country and even at times on the international ramps.The etymology of the word sari is from the Sanskrit word 'sati', which means strip of cloth. This evolved into the Prakrit 'sadi' and was later anglicised into sari. There is ample evidence of the sari in the earliest examples of Indian art. Sculptures from the Gandhara, Mathura and Gupta schools (1st- 6th century AD), suggest that the sari in its earlier form was a briefer garment, with a veil, and usually no discernable bodice.
There are also several references to the fact that in Southern part of India the sari had been for a long time one piece of material that served as both skirt and veil, leaving the bosom bare.
In North Indian miniature paintings, (particularly Jain, Rajasthani and Pahari schools from the 13th to the 19th centuries) the sari consisted of the diaphanous skirt and an equally diaphanous veil draped over a tiny bodice.

Gradually this skirt and veil were amalgamated into one garment, but when and how this happened is not precisely clear. One theory, not fully substantiated, is that the style was created by Noor Jahan (d. 1645) wife of the Mughal emperor Jehangir (reigned. 1605-27). Perhaps it would be more accurate to speculate that the confrontation between the two cultures, Islamic and Hindu, led the comparatively relaxed Hindus to develop a style that robed the person more discreetly and less precariously.Indian civilization has always placed a tremendous importance on unstitched fabrics like the sari and dhoti, which are given sacred overtones. The belief was that such a fabric was pure; perhaps because in the distant past needles of bone were used for stitching. Hence even to the present day, while attending pujas or other sacred ceremonies, the men dress up in dhotis while women wear the sari. Thus even though the different waves of Islamic expansion (13th - 19th century AD) resulted in new versions of stitched garments, the primacy of the sari and its gently changing form couldn't be changed. Even today, when the Islam influenced Salwar-kameez (loose trousers with a tunic) is an increasingly popular garment, the Sari continues to hold its sway. The flow it confers to the natural contours of the female form enhances the gracefulness of the fairer sex, as no other apparel can.
In the following posts on this page we shall continue to bring forth the various weaves, textiles and drape forms of the saree as is worn in the different parts of our country.

The images used in this post are courtesy Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and also copies of folklore paintings from India.

Posted by Sujata

Monday, November 2, 2009

Phulkari - the embroidery of Punjab

Folk embroidery is one of the most enriching part of the craft heritage of India. Some time back I had written about Kantha, the needle craft of Bengal. This post, I will show case the Phulkari, which literally means the flower craft, of Punjab, one of our most vibrant states.

The origin of Phulkari can be traced to 15th century A.D. The women of Punjab, stitched beautiful dupattas or head scarves for their daughters or the brides of their sons. The cloth primarily used for these shawls or head scarves was home-spun and dyed locally. This strong and long lasting material was cheap and also kept the wearer warm during the bitter cold winters. As the embroidery required counting of threads while doing the straight darn stitches, the coarse weave of the fabric made the task easier.

As these scarves were meant for brides, the base material was generally maroon, scarlet and other red toned   bright colours. The thread, which was silk, were yellow, golden or green.These threads, also called pat were brought from Bengal or Kashmir. Motifs were taken from every day life. Flowers were  the most common pattern. But so were stars, birds, specially peacocks, animals, and scenes from everyday  village life. Intricate geometric patterns were also rather popular.

The Phulkari embroidery is done by straight darn stitches. The stitches are actually worked on the wrong side of the cloth. The pattern takes shape on the right side. The main surface of the stitches are about a quarter or half centimetre long while they are very minute on the reverse. Using long and short darn stitches, women create innumerable designs. Shading and variation are achieved by expertly using horizontal, vertical or diagonal stitches. This gives the illusion of more than one shade when viewed from different angles.

Earlier, the women never traced any patterns on the cloth. They just carefully counted the stitches to create a design. In the absence of a traced pattern, the designs generally passed on from mothers to daughters. Along with the daily chores, a daughter learned phulkari from her mother and contributed to her wedding trousseau.This embroidery was such an integral part of the women of Punjab that one reads or hears of many folklores and songs describe the joys, dreams and yearnings of young girls while embroidering Phulkari.

This craft was never meant for commercial purpose. A Phulkari embroidered shawl was considered to be a gift for young brides. But now this art thrives as cottage industry. There is a decline in Phulkaris embroidered at home. Now, many men have learned this craft and sell Phulkari embroidered bedspreads and curtains, cushion covers and wall hangings. Now Phulkaris are also done on sarees and kurtas and machine embroidered Phulkari dupattas are readily available in the markets at cheaper prices. This obviously has harmed the skilled Phulkari workers. But most importantly, a mother's love for her daughter, which was so painstakingly expressed in the hand crafted designs, has gone completely.

Bride Photograph courtesy:

Posted By Aparna

Monday, October 26, 2009

Robab Tenga : A Big Citrus Fruit

Robab-Tenga is a very delicious and popular citrus fruit from Assam.It is very similar to a Pomelo and Grapefruit .It tastes sweet and sour and is a favorite amongst my family members specially the kids and me.It weighs around 1-1.5 kg at times,has a greenish yellow pitted outer covering.It is considered very auspicious to offer this fruit to God in many rituals and at the time of some specific festivals.I have tasted this fruit in some other parts of India too like Arunachal and once in Karnataka but the one we get here in Assam is the best in taste .It is highly recommended to handle this fruit very carefully because if treated roughly it gets bitter in taste,i had two very over enthusiastic volunteers to hold the fruit while i was about to click the picture( my kids),but the weight of the fruit was little heavier for them to balance,the result was shaky pictures.Finally i settled for this picture where i stuck Robab Tenga between two large spaced bars of grill.
We peel this fruit only minutes before we want to consume it because it gets bitter once you store it after pilling off.As you can see it has about an inch thick spongy cushion like inner covering......God's perfect packaging to save its taste getting bitter from minor falls and bumps.The inside fruit varies in color from a light pink to a dark pink .I divide the fruit into two parts and slit the back of the fruit one after another you open up the fruits ,large seeds are discarded and the pulp(????or the fruit) is removed very carefully from the thin you can see in the picture.To this we add a little salt,chopped green chillies(after removing kid's portion) and a teaspoon of mustard oil which gives it the final more pictures after this stage we don't want to get this treat bitter .
This year the price of this fruit is doubled,i don;t know why? Last season we paid 5 bucks for one while this year it was 10 bucks.We have many trees of this in our village house so we do get our more than fair share from time to time during the season.Have you seen or tasted this fruit before?If yes,share your experience if not you are welcome to Assam ,but be sure of this time of the year(SEP---NOV).