Stories from my home – 4: Bala’s oil pot


We don’t always have to travel to seek stories; they are right there in our homes. I never cease to be amazed by how much we take things around at home for granted and this series is an attempt to remedy that. In “Stories From My Home“, I re-look at many of the material objects surrounding me at home and attempt to document and share the precious memories associated with them.


This true story begins more than a 100 years ago.

Every morning at dawn, in a small village of Southern Tamil Nadu, little Bala would set off to bathe in the Thamirabharani river with other girls in the street she lived in. She would carry bath oil in a little bronze pot, some payatham maavu (or green gram powder), and a change of clothes. Bathing was a fun and elaborate ritual that also involved play with all the other girls who came to the river with her.

Years went by. Bala grew up and got married and newer responsibilities meant she no longer had the time for the elaborate bathing ritual that she once followed; there was only time for a quick scrub and dip in the river. The oil pot soon fell into disuse and eventually became a plaything for her daughters.
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Bala’s daughters too grew up, got married and left the village to live in far off cities. The oil pot remained behind, abandoned and forgotten. Years later, while on a visit to the village, Bala’s oldest granddaughter saw it and immediately took a fancy to this oil pot and with Bala’s permission took it back with her. Continue reading “Stories from my home – 4: Bala’s oil pot”