Monday, September 6, 2010

Amy's Valaikappu

Many Indian or Tamilians know about Valaikappu. The ceremony with rituals for the benefit of future mother and the foetus. I got an opportunity to attend Amy's Valaikappu. It is usually celebrated in the future mother's parent's house. The One I attended was conducted by colleagues as neither of their parents reside in India. Ananda Mahto, an American with Indian roots, teach communication skills at Tata-Dhan Academy. Amy Jensen Mowl, his wife is Programme Head, Longitudinal Studies, Centre for Microfinance, Chennai. The programme was planned at 10. 30 - 11.30 am. I and Aadhi reached the venue by 8. 30 itself. We were busy watching Amy getting ready for the function.

Amy looked like a princess, the credit goes to Ms. Venkateswari, the beautician who prepared Amy for the memorable event, the sister of the host, Ms. Shanthi Maduresan. Shanthi madam was so caring to conduct this memorable event for every one of us. As it was on August 15th, Indian Independence day, Ananda and many others joined the venue around 10 am.  Many DHAN and Tata-Dhan Academy staff and students of the academy joined the occasion.
Ananda and Amy were brought to the dias where the rituals were performed.
What made this a special occasion is the presence of Ms. Banumathi, Rathika's mother, who explained the reason for performing each and every ritual. A glimpse of it - Valaikappu is performed during the last months of pregnancy as the foetus starts realizing all the activities - can hear and observe. The expectant mother is made to wear a lot of bangles mostly glass ones of red and green colors. the colour are to please the eyes and the sound to reach the womb as music. Arti is performed to clear the evil notions of others (if any). Five or seven flavored food is to tell the future mother and foetus about diversity of life.
Several of the others present at the function wanted to know whether there were any similar events in the US. The closest comparison would be a "baby shower", usually held around the same time. While baby showers have become mostly commercial now, it is also a good opportunity for women who have had babies to buy small gifts that they know the mother-to-be would find useful. 
Ms. Shanti Maduresan (the host) was Amy's stand-in mother to organize everything. Amy felt immobile because of the weight of all of the flowers, great food, and, of course, getting to see everyone out of work.
Amy said unlike in Indian culture, Ananda followed Amy, and she decided to work in India and she actually got Ananda involved in DHAN Foundation by introducing to DHAN Foundation through the ART programme.
About Amy and Ananda:
He was born in Trinidab, a small Island in West Indis, in 1978. He lived there until he was 11, then moved with his mom and his two brothers to Santa Barbara, California. He live in Tamil Nadu for the past five years. His education is BA in economics from the University of California; MA in Education, in Curriculum and Istruction from the University of Phoenix. 
Amy holds a Master's degree in Public Administration / International Development from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, as well as a BA degree in economics from the University of California. SHe is currently Head of the Centre for Microfinance's Longitudinal Studies Programme where she is conducting a comprehensive survey of 10,000 households in Tamil Nadu. 
Amy and Ananda:

Amy and Ananda met in Physics/Philosophy class 13 years ago when Ananda was just 18, and Amy almost 21. From that point on, it was pretty clear that they were meant to be togather, but they intentionally delayed getting married until some six years later when they were both finished with their undergraduate degrees. After Amy finished with her master's degree, two of them decided to explore living and working in India, and they've been living and working in Tamil Nadu for about 5 years. During that time, they've adopted several street cats as their children, but in early 2010, they decided that it was time to bring a little human on board ;-)


  1. The English is very easy and understandable. Superb amina, u r doing a great job.

  2. மிகவும் ரசித்துப் படித்த பதிவு. எனக்கு, பல விஷயங்களில் ஆனந்தா முன்னுதாரணம். ஆமிக்கும் ஆனந்தாவுக்கும் மனமார்ந்த வாழ்த்துக்கள்.

    ஆனந்தா, ஆமியை சந்தித்து, இந்த வலைகாப்பு நிகழ்ச்சியை எப்படி உணர்ந்தார்கள்.. என்பதை கேட்டு அதையும் பதிவு செய்திருக்கலாம். மற்றபடி மொழியும், நிகழ்பதிவும் சுவாரசியமாக இருந்தது.