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 Post subject: Samathiya Sadangu
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 4:43 am 
Samathiya Sadangu


I have been asked to read a paper where mention is made of the above ceremony, whereby young girls aged 13 are 'shown off' to friends, family and others as a way of saying they are available for marriage. As this publication is going out nationally I want to check on its accuracy. The author got information directly from Tamil communities in England who are practicing this.

Can you help? I can find nothing on it through Internet searches.

Good wishes

Ronny Flynn - UK

 Post subject: "bathing ceremony"
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 4:48 am 
"bathing ceremony"


I think you mean a traditional ceremony of Sinhalese and Tamils in
Sri Lanka when a girl gets her first menstruation (celebrate the first
period). This indicates the "little girl" has become a "big girl", a
reason to celebrate. The parents isolate the child for few days and go to
the astrologer to get the most suitable time to have her bathed. This is
actually a "bathing ceremony". After the bath girl gets many presents
mainly gold jewelleries and nice cloths etc. The party is in the day of
the bath. There is no "showing off" or "ready to get married". Usually in
Sri Lanka married age of women is between 24 to 30.

See also the text I found in the internet.

Good luck,

Coming of Age for Tamil Girls

It is surprising that Ramya Gopal did not come across girls from Tamil Nadu communities who traditionally celebrate the coming of age of a girl with religious fervor (Oct/Nov/Dec, 2004). Excepting for the brahmins, most of the other communities do celebrate this event of a girl. Among Saiva Vellala people, especially from Tirunelveli, this is very prevalent. Quite often such celebrations are done on a scale equivalent to a wedding. It is called sadangu function, or, in pure Tamil form, called by the equivalent of sacred bath ceremony. The priest is present, and the girl is given a bath ceremoniously surrounded by women relatives. The girl's friend or a relative girl of the same age is dressed like a bridegroom and will be seated alongside the girl on the podium where the rites take place. The men folk are also invited for the function. The girl's maternal uncles are supposed to gift her richly; the girl's grandparents are supposed to gift her saris. Although the custom is on the wane, it is very much visibly present in the society. In an average year I attend at least one such function! My own granddaughter had such an event last year. We had the religious formalities done at home with a limited number of very close relatives attending. In the evening there was a grand reception where all kith and kin were invited.

As a side note to your article on the hazards of kumkuma in the same
issue, this writer in his professional career as an environmental
scientist has come across babies who got poisoned with lead due to their
mothers anointing their foreheads with vermilion powder to protect them
from common cold and fever!

K.S.V. Nambi, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India, ksvnambi@sancharnet.in

In reporting on the Hindus of Toronto, our feature story in this issue, we
discovered that the coming of age ceremony for girls is enormously popular among Toronto's Sri Lankan Tamils.

 Post subject: Thank you
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 4:49 am 
Dear Rohan

Thank you, this is very informative and useful. I would not be surprised if
the person who wrote the article has misinterpreted the event and may
therefore spread false information if left to publish it. I will now be
better informed to challenge the article.
Best wishes and thanks again


 Post subject: Menarche - the first menstrual period
 Post Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:40 am 
Menarche - the first menstrual period

Menarche is the first menstrual period, or first menstrual bleeding. From both social and medical perspectives it is often considered the central event of female puberty, as it signals the possibility of fertility. Timing of menarche is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, especially nutritional status. The average age of menarche has declined over the last century but the magnitude of the decline and the factors responsible remain subjects of contention. The average age of menarche in the United States is about 12 years and 6 months. To maintain a regular menstrual cycle, fat content of the body must be 22% or greater.

When a girl gets her first period in Sri Lanka, the exact time and day are noted. An astrologer is consulted who predicts many things about the girl's future based on the time and the alignment of the stars. The family then prepares their house for a ritual bathing, in which the women of the family wash the girl's hair and scrub her all over. She then puts on new white clothes from her underwear to her shoes. Printed invitations are sent for a party where gifts and money are presented to the girl.

Description of the Kota halu ritual
Kota halu - A girl's puberty ritual

@ Jørgen Østergård Andersen, 1997

Ten sequences of the ritual can be identified:
1. Gayatri was isolated and enclosed in a room of the house for 7 days.

2. Gayatri was lead from this room to the wash house outside the house
covered with a white cloth.

3. Gayatri was washed and cleansed, and water, which was purified with
herbal plants, was poured from a pot, which was broken afterwards.
Gayatri presented her jewellery - i.e. ear rings - to the dobi-woman and was dressed in a new, white dress and was covered by a new white cloth.

4. Males - including young boys - were excluded and the women took
Gayatri to the entrance of the house.

5. In front of the entrance of the house Gayatri cleansed her face and hands with water, which was purified with jasmine flowers.

6. Gayatri broke a coconut in the doorway of the house, and an omen was
taken from the two halves.

7. Gayatri was lead inside the house and was shown some objects on a mat on the floor (fruits and foodstuffs), which was surrounded by 12 oillamps. Gayatri put out the oillamps.

8. The dobi-woman held a winnowing fan above Gayatri upon which a
offering was arranged with a bunch of banana and other fruits.

9. Gayatri removed the white cloth and threw it away.

10. The males were called upon to join the group of women, and Gayatri
bowed to her parents and to the adult women and men in the gesture of
añjal|pu†a.. Gayatri was blessed by each adult person, who presented her
with jewellery - including "adult' ear rings. Finally everybody had breakfast
and were invited for dinner the same day.

Relevant questions to be asked before explaining the meaning of the ritual
and the kind of data needed for describing, explaining and interpreting the

* Informations about the 10 minutes, where males were absent and excluded, What happened?

* Informations about the night before the ritual. The dobi-woman (an old
woman from the washers caste) spend the night together with the girl.
What happened? Did the dobi-woman give instructions about womanhood?
etc. Why should she stay at all during the night before the ritual?
Does the dobi-woman fear Kalukumara - the Black prince? etc.

* Information about the emotions and feeling of the initiant. Does the girl
(Gayatri) fear the demon (Kalikumara)? how does she feel about having
her first menstruation? etc.

* Informations about the fixation of time during the ritual. The time of the
kota halu ritual was selected by an astrologer, who drew a new horoscope
for Gayatri. Did the astrologer give instruction for the ritual? and
what did the horoscope tell?

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