Today is my mom's birthday. Last weekend we had gone to her native village Thengovanoor near Mannargudi. While it was obviously an emotional trip for her, I was intrigued by the changes wrought to this place in about 50 years.
Few kilometers from Mannargudi, on the way to Thiruvarur are a couple of small villages Vadagovanoor and Thengovanoor. (North and South Govanoors). Its a tract bound by Vennar and Koraiyar rivers. Seemingly fertile land littered with ponds, canals and small temples.
My great grandfather's house was in the agraharam of Vadagovanoor. Surprising that as recently as 50 years ago, a part of this tiny village could have been off-limits to the rest of the community. Now the agraharam has vanished, with the Brahmins leaving for urban Tamilnadu and thence to California, I suppose.
Apparently the four village gods (Mari-amman, Kali-amman, Pidari and Ayyanar) guard the boundaries while Pillaiyar occupies the center in Vadagovanoor. Mariamman being our ancestral god.
Someone has posted pics from a Kumbabhishekham at this temple here. Thengovanoor also has its set of temples.
Change seems to have caught with our family too. My great grandfather had ran away and made a little fortune in Dhaka/Calcutta before returning to settle down. My grandfather had moved his family out to Thengovanoor, to live close to his lands. No agraharam in Thengovanoor, ours being the only Brahmin family. My grandfather was the village Munsif before he himself moved to Calcutta. The house still stands, but it now belongs to someone else.
My mom's elementary school was just outside the house thru the back gate and overlooking a rather large pond. Today there is a panchayat building there. My mom caught up with one of her classmates and a junior, to make a for some teary eyes and later, a good snap.
The neighbors gushed about the beautiful girl who went on to become my mom! Apparently I didn't get those genes or I blame it on the sun burnt Vellore district where I grew up. Or more honestly, over-eating.
For high school, my mom and uncles rode a bullock cart (themselves) to Koothanallur. This larger village being a exclusive Muslim community with palatial mansions in well aligned streets. Ayesha Palace being a particular hit, for it supplied ice-water to kids on the way to school. I remember many Muslim mansions in Vaniyambadi also have taps outside. Such nice people.
My mom eventually went to college in Kumbakonam. She has a certificate in rifle training, a sporting achievement I could never match. Oh, wait. I was the UKG rabbit race champion.
Here's the post from last year's trip to my dad's native village, Umayalpuram.