What does being a Malayalee mean to you?
Is it speaking the language?
Is it liking the spicy food?
or is it something else?

There is a reason for the above question.
Last Onam, as usual I was telling my kids the story of Onam and I asked them where do they think Malayalees are from.
Baby said Singapore
Toothless said United States of America
and Yaya said Malaysia, Perhaps India!
To make matters worst, I asked them what Language do they think Malayalees speak and they voted unanimously for Malay!

I hate myself for not teaching them about their ethnic background.
Somehow I assumed cooking meen curry and mooru and the buying Tinkle and Magic pot would somehow teach them about their cultural background.
I was clearly wrong.
I would like to undo the damage.
What should I do?

12 thoughts on “

  1. Quite a task…start introducing words…then sentences and some malayalam movies (comedy). That’s what I did and it worked to some extent with reluctance though.

  2. Vindys: Thank you
    braham:Please tell me how would learning the language help? My children don’t have any Malayalee friends to talk to.No one in my family talks to them in Malayalam either. Would talking and understanding malayalam give them their cultural identity?

    Sridevi: They can parrot whatever I teach them..they know to sing Raki parakkunna chemparuthey and Onnanam kunnil mel koodu koottum thathammey..

    Abt movies, it is very hard to find a malayalam movie that can be classified under U or even PG category. There is way too much violence in most movies( that I watched), even in the comedy type movies.I am hesitant to let them watch violent movies right now.
    I don’t think Malayalam movies are produced with children in mind. ( my dear Kuttichathan not included)

    None of you have answered what is being a Malayalee means to you. Can anyone tell me?

  3. I am not a Malyalee, so I cannot say what being a Malyalee means, but I do know what being a Kannadiga means and I think it will apply here too:

    1. It means my comfort food is saaru anna
    2. It means that I get the insider jokes on my people
    3. It means that I will always celebrate Shankranthi, not Pongal.
    4. It means I know and appreciate songs / movies in that language that others wont!

    But I guess if you asked my grand mom what being a Kannadiga means, she will have a totally different list. So don’t fret so much about what you celebrated/went through. Just make sure your kids have enough nice memories of their own!

  4. Chaos: Thank you very much for answering.. You know, while reading your comment I had the classic Archimedes moment.
    I had made Mysore rasam and we had Anna saaru( the Christmas lunch 1992). Obviously I couldn’t replicate the recipe when I have been trying to make Kerala style rasam all these while!
    Because of you, I remembered what I made and today I made Mysore rasam for supper. Even Baby who normally hates anything spicy drank it!
    Thank you so much for leaving a comment.

  5. Glad I could help! Hot Saaru anna is the best remedy for cold winters, especially the black pepper version!

    PS: I am not able to leave a comment using my wordpress account!

  6. I am not a malyalee, but I agree with Chaos.
    Its upto what the induvidual grows up with.

    My thought of being a Kannadiga might be totally different from what my brother feels about it. And yes this cannot be forced.

    Tell them what you know, let them decide what they want to accept and let them decide where they belong to. If they are too young to understand all this, then why induce the feelings now itself

  7. sarah – we have somewhat of the the same problems – though we speak only malayalam at home, which i think you could also do. there are basic ‘teach yourself malayalam’ videos. there are a number of kerala videos (probably even on youtube) that you can use to show them their motherland. you can also. Eventually your interest in your origins will rub off on your offspring- if not today, tomorrow. but be prepared for that day.

  8. To me, being a mallu means embracing the my state with all of its good things (the beauty of coconut trees swaying in the wind, the wonderful smell that emanates from warm/hot soil when rain falls on it etc etc) and bad things (the horrible politicians, trade unionism etc etc), celebrating onam, vishu, reading balarama, poombatta, boban and moli, the history of kerala and stories like parayi petta pandeeru kulam… all this and more…

  9. i would say start from the very beginning, slowly, with a aa e ee u uu of the language. getting the base of the language would be a major key. then, talking it out also. you could once a while communicate in malayalam to them. once you have the language, the rest will come on its way.
    i guess you can selectively collect some malayalam movies on your next trip to kerala. there are many of them which are fine on children.

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