I just finished praying for the health and continued long life of a husband whom I don’t have yet.
This is Nombu, a festival where the female gender, married or otherwise, prays for its husband to live happily. We put a sweet dish with butter on top and a banana, on a banana leaf, and then after a bit of prayer, we pick up a yellow thread with some flowers tied to it (also placed on said banana leaf) and tie it around our necks ourselves, thereby kidding ourselves into thinking a handsome hunk did so.
The actual prayer is translated as follows:
“I eat this sweet dish thing that has not-yet-melted butter on it
Under no circumstances should my husband separate from me”
Two things struck me immediately. One, it’s going to get dashed difficult for the husband – there must be so many things to do a day; loo, office, winking at neighbourhood chick and so on – and if he must never separate from me, it would make things a trifle awkward for the both of us. And two, assuming they meant separate in the long-term sense of the word, what is the connection between buttered sweets and preventing divorces, annulments and separations? Rather quite the reverse, I thought. More buttered sweet –> fatter and fatter –> less probability of lifelong sweet nothings from the husband.
While in school, we unassuming girls would report to school the next morning with yellow threads around our necks, sitting ducks for boys who were still at that awkward age when expressing affection towards girls takes the shape of incessant ribbing and insulting – you know, like Calvin here. For days afterwards, we used to get called Married Madhavis. Desperate to get the thing off my neck, like the Ancient Mariner and his albatross (speaking of which, have you ever heard of an albatross in any other context?), I used to get told by my mother than one week was the Standard Thread-wearing Time and then I could cut it off throw it into the well. I used to wait for the day with an eagerness that my grandmother thoroughly disapproved of. “Yenna dhaan kalyanam pannindu kizhikka poradho!” (I doubt what significant things she will get married and achieve!) she frequently exclaimed.
Thankfully, marriage is a long time away.
In other news, further shopping happened today. I also met the charming owner of Creperie, a small kiosk selling, well, crepes and sandwiches outside Globus. (A crepe is a French pancake, apparently, that can be stuffed with sweet or spicy fillings.) She sells heavenly vegetable sandwiches that I can vouch for but I saved the crepes for another day, not having much of a sweet tooth. If you wander about Globus on Thiagaraya Road, you might want to pop over to the entrance and order a Choco Banana Crepe which she assures me is her specialty. She’s also planning on opening a restaurant soon- good luck with that, lady!