Some Memorable Tamil Rhymes for Tulika Blogathon - 4

We are a family which speaks more often in English or Hindi than in our mother tongue – Tamil. We are more comfortable in these languages, and don’t even know to read and write Tamil properly. But there is one field in which our mother tongue comes first, and we discovered that when my son was born! We most often spoke to him in English/Hindi, but when it came to playing with him, the first songs which came to mind were the ones our grandmothers sang – in Tamil! We had to try hard to remember the words of some of the songs and rhymes, but somehow, we enjoyed those a lot more than any English rhymes we could sing….. In fact, for the first time I realised how wonderful they were, and thought of recording them for posterity. As things happened, we had no time for that, and we soon forgot all about them as my son outgrew that stage…. Thanks to Tulika, and their fourth blogathon, I now have a chance of re-remembering some of them…. so here I go….

Note: please excuse mistakes, since I cannot claim to even have got the rhymes right…. after all, we seem to remember these only when a kid is born in the house, and the gaps between them have been so huge that we have forgotten more than we learnt!

Here is one we played often with Samhith when he was really small….

Kai veesamma kai veesu
Kadai ku poghalam kai veesu
Mittai vanglam kai veesu
Meduvai thingalam kai veesu
Sokkai vangalam kai veesu
Soghusai podalam kai veesu
Kovilluku poghalam kai veesu
Kumbittu varalam kai veesu

This one is for really small kids, just waving their arms, and pantomiming going to the shop with mother…. Translated literally, it means,

Wave your hand, child, wave your hand
Let’s go to the shop, so wave your hand
Let’s go and buy some sweets, so wave your hand
And let’s eat it slowly, so wave your hand
Lets go and buy a dress, so wave your hand
And wear it happily, so wave your hand
Let’s go to the temple, so wave your hand
And pray and come back, so wave your hand…


Here’s another one which is Samhith’s favourite… He loves it even now, and every time he is with a smaller kid, insists on playing it with him/her!

This one is to teach a child to eat well, and also share his/her food with others. We hold the child’s hand and mimic cleaning it, putting a kolam (rangoli) on it, placing a mat and then a plate on it. We then mention mimic serving the food the child likes, usually rice, lentils, ghee, curry, etc. and then mimic giving him/her a bite. A bite is then given to each and every member of the family, whether present physically or not. Once the child has had enough of this, we go on to wash our hands, moving our fingers over the child’s hand towards the armpits so that it tickles. Even today, Samhith laughs his head off at this point!

Perukki, mozhughi, (sweeping, mopping the floor)
kolam pottu, chemmman poosi,  manai pottu,(putting kolam (rangoli) and placing a mat)
 thattu vecchi, saadam pottu, paruppu pottu, nai vittu, (placing a plate and serving food)
pesanji, pesanji pesanji…(mixing the food)
paapaku oru vai… ammaku oru vai, appaku oru vai…etc… (one bite for baby..one for mother, one for father… and so on… with names of all family members and friends)
kai alambarutuku pogalam, poghalam, poghalam…(going to wash hands)

Here is one more….. Before I mention the one we used to sing, here is the original… I found it easily on the net….

Aanai aanai
Azhagar aanai
Azhagarum chokkarum erum aanai
Katti karumbinai murikkum aanai
Kutti aanaikku kombu molacchidaan
Pattanam ellam paranddhodi poccham!

The song refers to the elephant of Azhagar – a form of Vishnu worshipped at Madurai. Azhagar also means ‘the beautiful one’, so it also refers to how beautiful the elephant looks. Both azhagar and chokkar (Chokkanathar – the form of Shiva at the Madurai Temple) climb on the elephant. The elephant is strong enough to break the tied bunch of sugarcanes easily. The elephant grows up and develops tusks, and the whole city runs away in fright!

My grandmother apparently sang a slightly modified version of this song, probably just to extend it….. Here it is…

Aanai aanai
Azhagar aanai
Azhagarum chokkarum erum aanai
Aanai vandhudhan topilai
Kulungi pazhuthuthan mambazham
Kudirai vandhudhan topilai
Kulungi pazhuthudaan goyyapazham
Kutti aanaikku kombu molacchidaan
Pattanam ellam paranddhodi poccham!

While most of the song remains the same, the fourth to seventh lines are modified. In her version, the elephant enters an orchard full of mangoes, and ripe mangoes fall off the trees….. A horse enters the orchard and ripe guavas fall off….I have always wondered where the horse suddenly turned up from, but this version has stuck in my mind, and it is now impossible for us to revert to the original!


Here’s another one I remember…..My mom says that my grandmother was the one who taught it to me…. It’s obviously a corruption of the original rhyme, but we have got so used to this version that we just can’t think of any other words to this one….

I have absolutely no idea about what it means – maybe it did mean something in its original form, or maybe it is just a nonsense verse, but it is fun to play, and Samhith enjoys it even today!
There are two parts to this song + game. We start with all the players’ palms on the floor, and point to one finger after the other as we sing this song –

Killa pandi
Kee pandi
Maa pandi
Malli pandi
Meena yennai kudichavale
Taarum taarum vazhakka
Taru pola gopuram
Seetha Devi mandapam
Kai vecchi kaal vecchi madak!

At the word ‘madak’, we bend the finger pointed to, at that time, and start again with the remaining fingers. The game continues after both the hands of one player are ‘gone’, at which stage, the player keeps his hand behind him.

We now start the second stage of the game, asking the player the following questions, to which he replies with the answers provided –

Kai enge? (Where is your hand?)
Kaaka kondu pochu (The crow took it away)
Kaaka enge? (Where is the crow?)
Marathu mele (on the tree)
Maram enge? (Where is the tree?)
Vetti pottachu (it has been cut down)
Vetti potta thundam enge? (Where are the cut pieces?)
Veragu eruchachu (they have been burnt)
Veraghu erucha saambal enge? (Where are the ashes?)
Pal thechachu (they have been used to brush teeth)
Pal thecha tanni enge? (Where is the water used for brushing?)
Pull molachachu (grass has grown there)
Pull enge? (Where is the grass?)
Aanai kudarai thinnudhutu (elephants and horses have eaten them)
Aanai enge? (Where is the elephant?)
Aranmanai vaasal le (Outside the palace)
Kudirai enge ? (Where is the horse ?)
Kottai vaasal le (Outside the fort)

At this stage, the player looks upwards and says...

Maanathu le paar mayil aadaruthu…. (Look up in the sky, the peacocks are dancing)

While the others look up, the player brings his hands out and shouts...

Kai vandhudhuthu ! kai vandhudhuthu ! kai vandhudhuthu ! (My hand is back! my hand is back! my hand is back!)

This one never fails to amuse Samhith who eagerly waits for the last portion!

These are just a few of the songs that I sang to Samhith and which he enjoyed. There are a few more common ones like sainthadu amma sainthadu, kaaka kaaka, and nila nila vaa vaa… which are commonly used by all Tamil speaking people….. I am sure there will be people who will write about these, so I have not mentioned any of them….. And I am sure there are many more which I have never heard of! There would be a veritable treasure trove of such rhymes from all over India, and I look forward eagerly to Tulika’s collection! I am sure it will make an interesting read!

Comments

  1. That was a beautiful post... I have heard these sung by my father to my neice..Good that you chose to write about it. It was indeed a trip down the memory lane.

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  2. What a lovely post! The deepest traditions are in the nursery rhymes! I think your son is lucky to know them!

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  3. Hi Anu,

    So glad to read this post. We too have tried learning some of these to sing to Aakanksha. Unfortunately my memories are worse than yours and so I can sing Hindi songs (film ones but those meant for kids) better than I can sing any other songs. So she is learning Hindi through songs! She sings (a modified version) lakdi ki kathi etc. But I did know (through my mil mainly) a few of these Tamil rhymes you have mentioned but didn't know the prequel to the kai enge and our ending was "pal thechinda kolam enge, mela paar, kai vandudth". So nice to read the long version. You should write the other ones as well, the ones you mention that are so common, it would be useful for people like me! :) Only one that we say that you have not mentioned (probably it is one of the common ones) is the punakutti punakutti one. Aakanksha does love these as well as the English nursery rhymes and the Hindi songs. She even knows a Kannada one - Bala having grown up in Bangalore knew it! Rambling comment ... mainly wanted to thank you for this post.

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  4. Even tough I don't understand the songs but I do understand what you are trying to say.

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  5. Absolutely LOVED this post.. Brought back some amazing memories.. :))

    My baby cousin also loves mammu pottu pappu pottu, actually i think all kids love it.. she also likes

    Aram seiya virumbu
    aaruvadu sinam..
    iyalvadhu karavel
    eevadhu viLambel
    and so on...

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  6. hey, i'll pass this on to some of my friends who will surely appreciate this. BTW, my teacher, Prof Marathe has compiled one such book of rhymes. Would have shown it to you if I had known you were interested in this :)

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  7. @jayasree: thanks.... i first heard my mom sing these to my cousin sis and then we all learnt them all over again for samhith! and it was fun!

    @Joy: thanks a lot! i so totally agree with you! nursery rhymes have so many interesting stuff in them!

    @Urmila: I didnt even know you wrote a blog! why havent u written anything recently????
    as to the songs, there are so many more, and i just have to talk to my mom to find out some more... unfortunately the post got too long as it is (all my posts just seem to go on and on..) and i thought i would stop there.....and as to the punakutti one,i read about it on another blog, but it isnt one i have heard at home.... so much for knowing the common ones! and great to hear that Akanksha is growing up multi-lingual.. cant wait to see her!

    @Mridula: thanks a lot! i am sure there are many such hindi songs too.... ask some older people for them,, and chavi will love them! kids seem to love these songs more than the english rhymes...

    @Aaarti: thanks..... and i do remember hearing that one sometime, though i cant remember where...thanks to Tulika's blogathon, i am learning more and more rhymes!

    @Usha: hey, thanks... would love to see your prof's compilation...and as to my interest, i was never interested in these till samhith came along.... and i realised that these were much more fun than the english or hindi film ones!

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  8. Anu
    nice post.I remember kai veesamma...and my son learnt karuppu mukku kaka ....when we were in chennai.

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  9. I didn't know there were so many in tamil :( My mom taught me only english rhymes... and those are what I remember till date... Am trying to learn some of them :)

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