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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pillayar Nonbu - Part 1

Pillayar Nonbu is a very unique and important festival for the people of Chettinadu i.e. Naattukottai Nagarathars. On this day Lord Vinayagar/Ganpati is worshiped by observing a fast. It is celebrated once in a year in December, on the 21st day after Thiru Karthikai or Periya Karthikai as the way we call it. The Nonbu / fasting which is for 21 days begins on the Thiru Karthigai day. On these days, only one meal (palagaram) a day is taken. 

I hope to write about this function elaborately and in parts, since it is a very important function as far as Nagarathars are concerned and the upcoming children don't seem to have the exact direction of how and why the function is to be done. Hope these posts will be helpful to everyone. So today, in this post I am starting with the Organizing of the function.

Organizing Pillayar Nonbu.  

The 21st day, the last day of the nonbu, is the day when Sashti converges with Sathaya Nakshatram.  It is a day of total fasting and the regular meal recommences after the final prayer has been offered to Pillayar.  During the 21 days a thread from a new Veshti/Dhothi is drawn and kept before the God. On the 21st day all these 21 threads are collected and twisted together to make the wicks needed for the function.

On the day of the Nonbu a special pillayar is placed on the Nadu Veetu Kolam (a special kolam which is put only for auspicious occasions) in the pooja room together with a bunch of auspicious flowers (avvarampoo), tied around a small stick. The pillayar is beautifully decorated with flowers and garlands. The prasadams are placed before the God.

The very important prasadam on this day is Karupatti Paniyaram, which is a paniyaram made using rice, jaggery and karupatti. This dough is also used make small pyramid shaped pillayars with a small wick, consisting of 21 threads, dipped in ghee is kept in centre of the pyramid. This is called Elai. Then comes  Vellai Paniyaram made using raw rice, Ulundu vadai, Thirattupaal made using milk. The other offerings are puffed gingerly seeds, puffed rice, puffed maize, puffed millet, Kadalai(peanuts) urundai, Ellu Urundai, fruits, beetle nut leaves, paaku, etc.  

Then the eldest couple make a house using strands of threads dipped in kolamaavu, on the walls of the swami room or where the pillayar is placed. This is called "Thumbu Pidithal".  

After all the preparations for the function is over, the ceremony/function is started with the blowing of the sacred conch shell/sangu. The eldest person in the function lights the Elai Lamp i.e. the small pyramid shaped maavu with the wick in the centre. The first one he takes in the name of the God. Then the next one he takes for himself. And then gives one Elai for each those present in the function. It is the custom of the recipients to worship Pillayar, then receive the Elai and swallow it whole which symbolises that the Holy Spirit will become part of the devotee. An expectant mother receives two Elais. The number of Elai should be in odd numbers. Supposing you are 4 members in the family, then the no.of Elai should be 5. If you are 2 or 3 still the number of Elai should be 5. 

After the Elai distribution is over, the prasadam distribution is done to the people present in the function. That is the food items which had been placed before the Pillayar during the Poojai. 

So this is the way Pillayar Nonbu is celebrated by the Nagarathars of Chettinadu. 
To summarise the function.
1) Preparation of the prasadam, mainly Karupatti Paniyaram and Elai Maavu.
2) Nadu Veetu Kolam (Click on the link for the Kolam)
3) Thumbu Pidithal
4) Distribution of Elai by the eldest male member in the group.

Information Source :

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chettinadu Kolam For Pongal & Marriages

Here I am putting up some Kolams, which are used in some special occasions in Chettinadu. These kolams are called Nadu Veetu Kolams. We put it for Pongal, Pillayar Nonbu, Marriages, House Warming Ceremonies etc. These kolams carry a special importance in all our functions. It brings out the artistic creations in each girl. The kolams here in the photos have been put up by my sister, Kanthi Akka, in Madurai. And the photos have been taken by my Niece.

Pongal Kolam

Nadu Veetu Kolam

Pongal Kolam 

Pongal Kolam 

Here are some kolam by my maami Mrs. Mani Megalai. 

 Nadu Veetu Kolam

Pongal Kolam 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palada Payasam

A very happy New Year to all the Tamilians and Keralites. For this tamil new year I wanted to try something different than the usual things I make. So this new years special was "Palada Payasam", a Keralite special. After I had a chat with my friends over the phone I got a Recipe for it. Came out very excellent.

Palada Payasam

Ready made Palada - 1 1/2 cup
Milk - 2 lt
Sugar - 4  cups
Cardamom Powder - 1/2 t.sp
Broken Cashew - 1 tb.sp
Ghee - 1 tb.sp


Wash the Palada in water and soak it in hot water for about 10 minutes. Rinse it in cold water again. Cook the milk and Palada in a pressure cooker. Put the cooker in sim after the 1st whistle and wait for about 10 to 15 minutes. Switch of the gas later on. Once the pressure is released, open the cooker and put the cooker back on the stove. Now add the sugar, cardamom powder and let it boil. Keep stirring. Let it simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. Strew the roasted cashews on top and serve it hot.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Thattai is a traditional South Indian snack. It is an all time favourite one. It is always welcomed and relished by people of all ages. Available in the sweet and snack shops round the year. But still always home-made ones get a thumps up compared to the shop brought ones. It is very difficult to resist our temptation from Thattais.

This recipe is from a blogger friend. When I was searching for a Thattai recipe some years back I came across this recipe. Didn't keep a track of the bloggers name and web address. This recipe is very wonderful and a never let down recipe. The Thattais always come out crisp. It is very simple and easy to make. Doesn't involve any strenuous process.



Raw Rice - 3 cups
Black gram - 1/2 cup
Roasted Bengal Gram dal - 1/2 cup
Bengal gram - a handful
Dry Red Chillies - 15
Shredded Coconut - 2 cups (optional)
Asafoetida Powder - 1 tsp
White Sesame Seeds - 2 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil for frying


  1.  Soak the rice for 1 hour, drain the water and grind the rice in a mixie to a fine powder. Sieve it twice.
  2.  Soak Bengal gram in enough water for about 2 hours.
  3.  Roast the black gram in a dry pan to a golden brown colour. When cooled, grind it to a fine powder and sieve it once.
  4. Grind the Roasted Bengal Gram with the red chillies, asafoetida & coconut to a fine paste.
  5. Add the ground paste, powder, ghee, curry leaves and the soaked dal to the rice flour with enough salt & knead to a soft dough.
  6. Take a clean plastic sheet. Grease it with oil. Take a small ball of the dough and place it in the center of the plastic sheet. Place another greased clean plastic sheet.
  7. Flatten the ball placed between the plastic sheets with a rolling pin. Flatten it as thin as possible.
  8. Cut it with a round cookie cutter. 
  9. Make a small batch of it and fry it in the oil. Remove it and place it on a tissue paper.
  10. Allow it to cool for some time. Preserve them in an air-tight box.


Oats is also called as the "Wonder Grain". It is high in fibre. Oats have a rich blend of fibre which slows down digestion. That means your body gets a steady stream of energy as carbohydrates gradually flow into your bloodstream.

A bowl of oats keeps your blood-sugar at a high but safe level for a quite a while. So you feel energetic for a long time before wanting to eat again.

Source : Reader's Digest