Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Last Supper...

It must have been 12 year back. We had all assembled at my dad's tharavadu in our native place, Arakulam in Idukki district. My grandparents, my dad's two brothers and their families were all there.Everyone assembled at the dining room, with appachan at the head of the table and ammachi at the other end, their three sons and the bahus at the other chairs and we six grandchildren on our feet. The electricity was out and there were candles lit.I didnt understand what it wuz all about until my mom said we were goin to celebrate the last supper...a long-standing syrian christian tradition that was getting lost with the arrival of nuclear families. My aunt brought in some appam with a cross made of dry kuruthola on it...if i remember right its called inriappam...i guess the cross placed on it gave it the inri name(my other grandma used to jokingly tell me "ninakku inri appam puzhungi tharaam" when i demanded something different be cooked and placed in front of me and i wud wonder what the hell that was!). Ammachi lead the short prayer followed by which appachan cut the appam in many peices and dipped it in a green syrup(tasted like thengapal with a touch of cardamom and sugar) and handed it to everyone in the order of seniority. The bread was bland but with the syrup it tasted so sweet. It was a magical moment of family bonding and love. I knew I would look forward to this occasion every year henceforth but sadly it never happened...and soon it didnt even matter to me. Our families moved apart irrevocably despite the best efforts of my dad...pretty much like the irritatingly unreasonable sob-story family sagas we see on tv serials. I always wonder if we'll ever be able to sit around a table on a maundy thursday evening with pappa at the head of the table(ouch...our dining table is round) and mummy, jisha, me, our spouses and our kids hovering around...ooh sounds too good to ever become true...the irony is I who write all this has been accused of running shy of family, and of words which speak a thousand noble thoughts and never reflecting in my actions! I plead guilty to the charges.


Praveen said...

I guess its great to have a get together if you have large relations in the paternal and maternal side. And you have described the gloom of never being able to meet regularly pretty well.

silverine said...

Hey Jiby,
Lovely post on a truly significant day.
Maundy Thursday is something I look forward to every year. It brings our large extended family together. My family celebrates it the same way you described after the Maundy Thursday Service.

My makes the 'appam' with a cross atop made of a cutting of the palm frond from Palm Sunday Service. With it she also makes the 'paal'. Both taste like manna from heaven. The Inriappam is a formality as few people like it.The 'paal' that she makes only on Maundy Thursday is something I will sell my soul for. It is simply delicious.

It signifies the wine and the 'appam' signifies the bread that Jesus broke at last supper.

No amount of cajoling, pleading, threatening, weeping, sulking will convince her to make it on any other day. It is essentially made of Jaggery, Coconut Milk, and flavourings.

More than the eats I like the solemnity of this ritual in our house. Also this day and the next day i.e. Good Friday the men stay off drinks!!!! :)) Saturday night is Easter Service and the end of dry day for them :)

These are some of the rituals that I adore and look forward to.

Jiby said...

praveen, very true...i feel sad at how families are shrinking away from each other these days...if my parents had like a hundred cousins and kaaranavanmaar they were close to i would be lucky to count even 20 in my fold...fortunately friends have filled in the void.

hey silver...thanks for filling in the gaps in my post....actually gaping holes i feared to tread into for fear of being factually incorrect. yeah, we used to fight for "indriappam" and the "paal" too but were always met with a flat NO.

Matter of Choice said...

Its been about 8 years since i tasted the "flesh and blood" of christ!.

Those were the days..when i wuld be sent off in the evening to do my annual confessions (we dont have weekly one's in our community) and then return in anticipation for the appam paal, which ofcourse she makes only once in an year.

In an interesting twist to the tale, my parents would never allow me to waste this appam paal..saying its a sin!. Me initially would fill my entire plate with the appam and drink a few glasses of paal too. Towards the end, even this great dish will finally fill my stomach. And then, i will not be allowed to get up from the table before my plate is licked clean :)