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Years of cultural conditioning appears to leave us with fascinating zones in our psyche. As the Avittam star shines distinctly today in this month of Aavani, it also heralds the time for renewing the Brahman’s sacred thread, poonal – to a fresh new one. It was a scurried morning of activities. Cleaning, ablutions, setting out the religious paraphernalia, cooking, and observing silence, as the male member of the family chants the verses and changes his poonal. These pre-planned structured and deliberated activities transformed the usual quiet and predictable cereal-milk-oat meal mornings. It was a bit of work and preparation, but somewhere amidst the morning hustle, arose this inner feeling of quietness and comfort. A feeling that resonated with a certain familiarity of smells, sounds, duties, orderliness and … the warmth of my childhood and of my joint family.

As I finally sat down with my breakfast, the quietness of the burning oil lamp and the scents of the Vedic sacred ash casted a serene awareness to my senses.