Avaniyavattam seventy years back in my village Chelakkara , Kerala
I am sure you would be surprised at my spelling of Avaniyavattam. That is what we used to call the Upakarma or Avani avittam during those days in my little village of Chelakkara.(Even today , I am not familiar with names of Tamil months) While all the 18 villages of Palakkad were agraharams , Chelakkara was far removed from them and was a very small village , which we in our lingua used to call Otha madam i.e Homes separated from each other by a compound surrounding them. WE were an island amidst Malayali homes and our best friends were Malayalis .Whenever we wantd to discuss anything seriously within our homes , it was in Malayalam .In our village most of the vegetables were home grown.Things like tomato or Kothamalli were not simply available. I always thought that the way we celebrate festivals was different from Tamil Brahmins of Tamil Nadu and possibly also from Palakkad Agraharams.
Avaniavattam used to start in the early morning with young boys taking a Stick of Palasa tree(PLasu) and going to every Brahmin home in the village jointly shouting
“Avaiavattam Komanam ,
Ambi poranthal Shobhanam
Akka porantha Ukkarai,
Ammaan porantha Ayiram panam,
Patti porantha Bakshanam
Patta porantha Pazhukka Vadi”
(since it was so long ago that I heard this , I might have committed mistakes. Do correct me.)
In every home , the mama would be waiting with a Kaupeenam to be given to each boy. In some rich house they used to give Pattu KOmanam(silk Kaupreena) and some very rich houses they would give 4 Anna coin (25 paise coin). Only boys whose poonal is not celebrated can go for this.
On the avaniavittam day , early morning all boys whose poonal is over and all Mamas as well as Thathas have to get their hair cut. Compulsorily During those times , there were two village barbers called Govindan and appukuttan. People would be queuing up to get their cut early moning. After bath, all people would have a break fast of Idly and then around 10 Am they all would go to the Samoohathu Madam(community hall of the village and the front courtyard of the temple. There were two vadhyars in the village during those times. Saminatha Vadhyar who belonged to the chelakkara village itself and Sami Vadhyar who had come from Ayilur and settled down there. So the avaniavattam would be observed in two places. All the young boys whose poonal had not been celebrated would have a Kalla Poonal .Most of the Mamis and girls also would come there.After Madhyaneekam (now almost no body does it) , followed by Brahma Yagnam and the Maha Sankalpam every one assembled there would go to the village tank to take bath .Only on that particular day we would be able to see all mamas and Thathas jumping in to the tank one by one to take bath.After the bath every one would go back to the Vadhyar. The women folk would have brought dry cloths for them to change .Then after Kanda Rishi Tharpanam, there would be a community Veda Parayanam, followed by Gayathri Homam.It was at this time all those who were attending their first avani avittam would be undergoing special rituals like tying of the deer skin and a rope made of flax tied around them. By that time , the Mamis would return home to prepare the avaniyavattam feast .
I am recollecting all those pleasant memories after going to Upakarma arranged by an industrialist in Koramangala, Bangalore . The camaraderie or the homely sweetness which we had during those times has completely disappeared. All people only want to change their poonal and rush to office .Things are bound to change but should it change so much , that we are not enjoying the only male centric festival of Tamil Brahmins.