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avoiding our roots...

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hello to all,i live in north india and was initiall avoiding my tamil brahmin roots but something drove me towards it i want to learn about my roots and culture hope this site would help me do the same.

this initial intro from dattatri sparked off some old memories. who knows where this thread will end.

i grew up in madras, en route to the great north. all my relatives would spend summer in kerala and at that time the only way to go to north was to come to madras, stay overnight and proceed on.

by north, it could be any place north of vindhyas - bombay, delhi, calcutta etc.

one consistent impression, i remember, is that all my north indian domiciled relatives felt superior to us southern living country bumpkins.

this is a genralization and perhaps flawed, as i am looking at it through the distant mirror of time.

but the fact remained that intermittently or among themselves they would speak hindi or variations of it. they would quote ghazals. they would actually understand the lyrics of what rafi or latha sang, unlike us, who did not know even how to identify a song.

they always had chapatthis with their meals, with rice playing a second fiddle. new words like sabzi, dhal, aaloo, press wala etc would be bandied about the house, much to the bewilderment of folks like us who used to call the same, upperi, paruppu, urulai or isthiri aaLu.

the north was where the jobs were, and had it not been for an accident of history, yours truly would have been living in an hindi speaking land.

also, these folks, spoke loud when they came to madras.

what was interesting, was the complete reversal of behaviour, when on odd occassions, we returned their visits. they would never speak loud in the streets (the northies had no such retiscence), would talk in hindi, whisper in tamil and above all did not quite mingle with the dhalwallahs, as what they used to boast back home.

when i first saw the movie padosan, i was shocked. not only did we have no kudumis in my family, but nobody had such an awful tamil accent. and all my relatives in the north considered themselves more modern and sophisticated than us.

a lot of things did not jive.

which comes back to the initiation of this topic... why would a TB hide his roots while growing up in the north.

thank you.

ps.. i have some relatives who even northindianised their names: sarma became sharma, kailas became kailash; viswanathan became vishwanath... and so on.. :)
Kunjuppu sir,

Is North-South variation is this much???? So bad. For the first time, am hearing this. I have not been to North India till now. I heard that many of the south indians are living there. I thought that they will be developing our culture there and make them to astonish. But, it is the other way around. Ok. Let we see what the others are telling. Am much eager to know about this sir...



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i am talking about over 40 years ago - 1950s, 60s.

at that time, atleast to those of us from kerala, all the jobs were in bombay or delhi or those far off places.

i realize ofcourse that the situation has now changes.. ie chennai, bangalore and hyderabad are on par, i believe re job opportunities.

also, hindi was not a liked language in madras. things could have changed.

people of my generation, ie closer to 60, might have related stories like mine. younger ones may have different perspectives.

would be interesting to see both and compare how the march of time has changed perspectives.

thank you
may be it is a reversal of trends now.infact 90% of our tamil people settle down in Bangalore/Chennai/Hyderabad/Coimbatore only after their retirement..it has happened even 10,15 yrs back in our family..they plan their settlement in south 3.4 yrs before they retire.


My father in law was in Delhi during service and is back to Chennai after retirement.

Initially my brother-in-law hated Chennai. But now he is also fully settled.

Chennai is not heaven. But people in North India prefer Chennai after retirement.

May be Mumbai and Delhi are costly for retired people but rent is quite cheap here as compared to other places.

Rest of the expenses are almost same.

All the best


Active member
I have been in the South of the Vindyas my whole life.I am now looking at the issue in another way,Even we living here do not know or are unable to trace their original roots.
I initially joined this group only to see if I can trace my ancestral roots.

As per our family tradition we moved over to North Malabar (PLEASE NOTE NOT PALLAKKAD) 250 YEARS BACK.We are known as pandikarans,That represnts the 'P'in my initials.Now going back further we were originall based in a village in Tirunelveli where there is a Veeraraghava Swamy temple.We belong to the Atreya Gotram.
I have tried several avenues to trace the village.BUT IN VAIN
It is a question of seeking ones original roots,


Active member


personally, i see nothing wrong in seeking roots. i am not so sure, if, even this is the issue here.

if possible, if dattatri comes back with more requirements, there may be folks here with ready hand info that might be of assistance to him.

i for one, read dattatri's note, from my perspective, of youth (i imagined him to be in his twenties), growing up in north, more comfortable with hindi and overall not familiar with TB deep traditions.

by the fact that he is here, i also supposed, that he is somewhat of a practising brahmin to a comfortable extent, probably familiar with our food (though not overtly fond of it), does not see tamil films or read tamil books, and definitely unaware of our temple heritage and culture, let alone the literary one.

such folks, i am familiar with, in the context of my own family, as our own movement north started in 1920s, and virtually stopped since 1980s.

i hope that explains where i am coming from.


i did not see anyone here objecting to seeking one's roots. it may be a natural curiosity or simply verifying certain genetical characterestics. who knows?

i too am from north malabar. have always understood our family as having palghat roots, as do all of us pattars from the towns around kozhikode.

it is very exciting to know, that here too, there is different roots from generations back.

i think, it is too bad, that we, in our tradition or culture, do not have a detailed written family records. in the west, this was provided by the church and the state.

the west still has village records when shakespear married ann hathaway or when columbus was christened.

birth, marriages, deaths and land transactions were dutifully recorded. though that did not give details of family life, it provided a view of family lineage and movement of folks.

i hope, you can now understand dattatri's query from a more nearness of timelines.

but, on the other hand, we all may be mistaken. he may be removed for several generations ie hundreds of years from the south. in which case, this too is exciting, for i never knew that TBs migrated to the north, prior to 1900s when the british government needed a whole lot of clerks to manage tax collections, all over the then expanded british india (burma, ceylon included).

now, perhaps, you feel comfortable, to give, in your opinion, and there are no right or wrong answers here, as to why some TBs living in the north, wish to hide their TB roots. not many responses have come for this query.

thank you.


I understand the question as the following :

a) Is it right to hide one's root ?

b) What makes some one hide his/her roots ?

My short answer to (a) would be 'depends....'. I would suppose that one wouldnt be too proud to claim that they are from the lineage of say a Godse or a Hitler.

Ofcourse that's stating the extreme coz the TBs have not done anything as shameful as them but there's a certain reluctance among the NI TBs to do a public display of their TB roots.

I had a colleague, TB, brought up in Delhi who could speak fluent tamil and read too, but curiously whenever he spoke with his brother, he would slip into Hindi. I didnt understand.

I guess it has to do something with trying to avoid the 'Madarasi' tag.

Culturally there are some challenges that a TB has to overcome. If one was lucky enough to migrate early, there shouldnt be a problem, so these are for 'late' migrants.

a) North Indian by and large is a bigger social animal than a TB. A religious festival in north has so much of a community angle while the celebrations down south are personalized. Ex : Ram Lila, Pandals.

Down south, there's still the exchange of sweets/savouries during a diwali or the ubiquitous sundal during a kolu, but i guess the driving reason is to do a dipstick check of whose 'kai murkku' has come out topper this year or which mama's veshti is brighter in the kolu steps.

The community angle is certainly more muted in South.

b) There's a natural bonding in North due to the surname factor. Mehtas, Sharmas, Guptas, Mehras, Kapoors have a natural bonding while there's no such equivalent in South. Infact most NIs cannot still come to terms with the fact that TBs dont have a 'surname' concept.

Now a TB has to make the adjustment to being more sociable in North than he would have been had he stayed back. After several years in North, this could possibly put him in a situation where he cannot relate back with his TB roots. The mental adjustment that one has to make between North and South can be a bit too much for a few.

A few others could possibly not want to identify with their TB roots because they may believe in a certain superiority of the North culture. The culture of north is more or if i may daresay all pervasive in India.

North Indians have brought Holi to South India while we have not been able to transport a Karadayan nonbu for ex to North.

The demographics are in favour of the North and hence it certainly pays to be 'more north than south'.

Even today, a hindi speaking politician is more successful than a pure tamil speaking, unless you have the bargaining power of a mu ka.

In summary, i dont think there's anything wrong in adopting or merging with the north indian culture. It is still possible to retain the TB culture atleast inside the precincts of one's household.

However looking down on the TB culture / roots is something i dont approve of.


Active member
i hope that dattatri vikram, who proved to be a catalyst to this thread, will enlighten us as to what made him avoid his TB roots.

i presume he is still living in the north.

based on that single statement, i think, this was an interesting exercise, as each of us made assumptions based on our own experience or knowledge, and built up on it.

good stuff.

to continue the story: i went to college where the majority were from the north, though not north indian ie plenty of 1st generation children of transplanted TBs.

it was a delight to meet so many folks from the north, as till then, i had very little reaction with hindi speaking peoples.

the friendships that have lasted over 43 years have been equally divided between north and south, as far as i am concerned, and no such thought of which part of the desh someone originates, colours any of my views.

in that context, i had not thought about my then prevalent feelings re north domiciled relatives, till this note drom dattatri, rekindled some long forgotten incidents and memories.

perhaps, in my tweens and teens, i was relflecting my own insecurities on playing host to those better travelled than i was. after all, in those days of 1950s, 60s.. madras was, i think, more parochial and more traditional than today.

also, today in tamil nadu, we are job spinners, with folks from the north seeking their livelihood here. perhaps, that too, adds confidence, for it is a better feeling to be net job dispenser than dispensee.

surprisingly, my then flashy cousins of the north, are still on the best of terms with me today.. except for the fact, that i am far too much an inciter for change... whereas those erstwhile sophisticates are now the prime anchor for tradition and status quo within our community.

the earth has certainly moved :)

thank y'all.


The path that bore our imprint
The root that that gave it’s all
Is turning back on them civility
Disowning, sign of upward mobility ?

Should plants forget their nurseries
Transplanted to a bigger garden
Should our roots be forgotten
To win more respect in our Eden

Whom are we trying to impress
Ignoring mother for the mistress
Umbilical cords we snap and fling
To be more loyal than the king

Adapt all that is new, embrace
Do it with poise and full of grace
With your roots don’t be taciturn
Never go far to the point of no return


TB community has become a migrating community. Personally I moved from a village to a City. My children are moving out of India.

Already within India, we have so many geographicals sects. Bombay, Delhi, Bangalore, Kerala and Tamilnadu have individually substantial TB population.

The first generation will talk about the roots vehementally but the subsequent generations will dilute it over a period of time.

May be after few generations, they will again try find their origional villages.

Some of my relatives in Kerala have started visiting their native villages regularly after four or five generations. Most of the people in Trichur visit Kattumannar Koil in the banks of Kollidam near Chidambaram. Most of the people in Payyanur (Near Cannanore) visit my native village Tappalampuliyur, near Tiruvarur.

Generally when they experience a bad period, they go for `prasnam' and then start discovering their roots.

My view,better remember the roots but at the same time don't get obsessed with the root.

All the best
dunno why shd anyone try to avoid their roots.

these days i see a growing interest in so many people wanting to know where they come from..

i think it is natural to seek out where one comes from...only thing is that sometimes we can end up with 'cosmic dust' (mere dust) as the 'origin' :)
How about extrapolating Kunjuppu mama's experience with his relatives to TBs in the US especially. They are the worst in denying their heritage, roots and culture. I am currently in the UK where there are not that many TBs. But in the US where there are lots more TBs, why do they abandon their culture as soon as they go?.
To my knowledge, nobody leaves/forgets the roots just to suppress one's true identity. But, going in search of a better future takes one far away from where one started. Then, there may not be any interest left to return to one's roots or the roots may still seem unattractive.

I will answer Kunjuppu's questions on this.

There is a general tendency in most of Indians, not just Tamil Brahmins, to venerate people from far off places as if they are from heavens. I have personally noticed that our own relatives/friends from USA stay top on this hierarchy and next comes people from Delhi or Mumbai or Kolkata. May be, places like Bangalore and Hyderabad may come next. We don't respect locals so much, for reasons not known.

It is wrong. A person who works in a petrol bunk or a small restaurant or a shop in a foreign land say, USA or Dubai commands greater respect and enjoys more fame than a Professor working in a local college. Is that not unfair and unjust?
My first posting in Central Govt job was in Delhi. I came to Delhi in 1981. From then onwards, I am roaming around within the limit of vindhyas, i.e. after Delhi, Kanpur, Bhopal and then again Delhi. Everywhere I was fortunate enough to get a TB community. Kanpur I was a member in the Ram Navami Committee and there were bhajanais, seetha kalyanam etc. etc.. and I enjoyed (being a bachelor) a lot. In Bhopal also lot of TBs. Everybody still holding their roots of TB community, doing sandyavandanam, visiting temples, Avani Avittam congeregation etc. etc. So living in North India does not mean that swe should leave our traditions. North Indian still follow their traditions wherever they go. Likewise we should also be proud to follow our TB traditions. It is not a taboo. It is a practice. It is good to our mind, family and above all to our country.
IN Delhi also, nowadays, I have attended lot of Radha Kalyanam, Seetha Kalyanam, Bhajans, suvasani poojas etc. etc. So I can proudly say that North indian TBs are not drifting away from their traditions.


Active member
How about extrapolating Kunjuppu mama's experience with his relatives to TBs in the US especially. They are the worst in denying their heritage, roots and culture. I am currently in the UK where there are not that many TBs. But in the US where there are lots more TBs, why do they abandon their culture as soon as they go?.


please no kunjuppu 'mama' .. though i am thrillingly embarassed by being addressed such.

please not any more. plain kunjuppu would be sufficient, if you don't mind.

you have to explain some instances or examples of u.s. desis 'abandoning their cultures'. what do you mean by that?

please elaborate..thanks.
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Active member
Dear amala Ji,

On what basis you are saying these words? (see the highlighted sentences). Are you generalizing from a few instances/hearsays?

I have been living in the USA for the past 40 years and I do not see in general what you are claiming. May be your definition of what our 'culture' constitutes is different?


How about extrapolating Kunjuppu mama's experience with his relatives to TBs in the US especially. They are the worst in denying their heritage, roots and culture. I am currently in the UK where there are not that many TBs. But in the US where there are lots more TBs, why do they abandon their culture as soon as they go?.


Active member
thank you b v raaghavan.

your career mirrors most of my relatives who came of age in the 50s and 60s into the job market.

if i may please be of bother to you: kindly go to the first post in this thread - it is an introductory note by one dattari virkam.

judging by the note, i suspect the man to be in his twenties, but having grown up in the north all his youth.

what do you make of that note.. particularly, would it be relevant from the eyes of your children, whom i presume have followed you all along to places where your career took you?

i do not anything wrong in dattatri's note.

i see only an adept adaptation of a person growing up in a different society from the one he belongs - ie one set of norms at home and one different outside.

i took one aspect of it, ie through the eyes of a madras native to his north india domiciled cousins, when i was young. but there are other interpretations of the same situation, as imagined by the several notes here, all dealing in one way or other re rootlessness as a result of migration.

i think i will also write a private message to dattatri .. maybe he will be pleasantly surprised at so much conversation over so small a note :) and maybe he will explain further what he meant?

not sure where யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர் fits into all this though!!

thank you.
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With all due respect KRS mama (hope you don't mind me referring to you as mama) I beg to differ. I know far too many people in the US and I'm not even talking 2nd or 3rd generation, who abandon their culture in varying degress.

Some stop wearing their poonal after sometime of living there, others start eating non-veg and I'm sure its not becuase vegetarian food is unavailable. I know a few who even changed their names to western sounding names. These are not hearsays but people that I personally know.

I am very amused because if they are born and bred there I can understand but these are mostly NRIs.

Obviously I am only generalising from what I know and I agree there are exceptions like yourself but the general rule prevails does it not. There will always be exceptions to everything, but we can't argue on exceptions surely.

And Kunjuppu sir I shall try my best to not call you 'mama' but I have been taught to respect elders ;)

Dear amala Ji,

On what basis you are saying these words? (see the highlighted sentences). Are you generalizing from a few instances/hearsays?

I have been living in the USA for the past 40 years and I do not see in general what you are claiming. May be your definition of what our 'culture' constitutes is different?

I know far too many people in the US and I'm not even talking 2nd or 3rd generation, who abandon their culture in varying degress.

Hello Amala:

I have no problem with the suffix "mama" but you may not care to use it for a heathen like me :).

I know a little bit about USA. I was once up to my eyeballs in TB culture in the USA. Let me assure you, many people who have migrated out of India to the US -- and I suspect to other places as well -- feel deeply disconnected from their roots and turn to religion and the TB culture they left behind in India. They are ever eager to reestablish this connection. Another motivating factor to keep the culture fire burning is their fear that their children may otherwise be lost to the TB culture.

This is evidenced by the proliferation of temples in the USA. Sometimes it seems that for every unkempt temple in TN there is 2 or 3 gleaming ones with wall-to-wall carpet here in the US. Even a small town like the one I live in has a temple, albeit a Gujarati one.

Middle-aged people turnout in great numbers, many wearing katchcham (women with six yards madishar, and men in pancakaccham, inside out and loosely hanging) and celebrate all religious holidays with gusto -- chanting Veda in multifaceted cadence and singing bhajans and what not. Some men even sport shikai that can double as stylish pony-tail come Monday. These people in India would be so busy they would not have anytime to spend on TB culture. To each their own, which is better, "God" only knows (h/t Socrates).

-- mama :)
From mama to you -- hope you won't chicken out of this post :)

p.s. Amala, please ignore this little exchange between two silly men (hope K wouldn't mind including him in the silly group just this one time!)
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Dear Sirs,
At 0430 am in , Arunchala Ashrama New york and at Novo Scotia, Canada (I visited Canada recently) you can participate in the Vedic Chanting which is on regular basis done, followed by Lalitha Sahasranamam . Some of our people are not only following traditions but also inspire other country men to follow also . There are three Americans in New York Chant Vedas with very good accent .

The longing for our culture increases as you go away , as against
the Newton '
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