Hospitality “rules”

Being born in a typical Tamil family, the first exposure to stories were surely the Mythological ones and certainly not the Fairy Tale ones. Starting from Ramayana, Mahabharata, the stories would venture into Saivism, Vaishnavism….these are the age-old methods of teaching tradition, culture, religion to the children, grooming and molding them from young age.

The thing I am talking about right now, here, relates to Saivism and the 63 Shiva devotees, who excelled in showing their devotion to Lord Shiva and attained Moksha or Nirvana. These 63 Shiva Devotees are called Nayanars and each one’s story is an amazing test on their bhakti quotient by the God himself.

Now, here is one story of Siruthondar Nayanar, which I would like to highlight upon.

Siruthondar Nayanar was a Brahmin, living in a small village, in the region of Kaveri river.  He was well versed in Sanskrit literature, Vedas, Ayur Veda and in the art of war.  His name originally was Paramjyoti. The Chozha King, on knowing his verstality made him the commander in chief of his army.   Paramjyoti went to Vatapi, for the war against the Chalukya King.  He defeated the king there and came back with a Ganapati statue, from Vatapi, called Vatapi Ganapati.

One day a Siva Saint, following the Baivara type of adoration, came to his house.  He told Paramjyoti, that he wanted to eat the human flesh of a young boy of handsome body and pious nature. Siruthondar decided to give his own son, as food, since he could not find any other boy.  He brought his son from the school and told his wife to cut him and cook him, as food for the Bairagi.  His wife did not hesitate even for a moment. He cut the son and cooked the body and kept the head separately. Soon, the Bairagi came to sit for food.  He asked for details.  When the lady said that the body of a boy had been cooked, he also asked for the head to be cooked!  A little later, the Bairagi sat for food after bath. He asked Siruthondar to come along with his son for eating.  When Siruthondar said that his son would no longer be available in company, he said that he would eat along with the Bairagi.   He was then told: Go and bring him!  Not willing to disobey the guest, Siruthondar and his wife, went outside and made a mock-call!   The son, Seeralan, came before them and said: O you are calling me.  I shall sit with the Swami.  As the parents were perplexed and excied, Siva appeared, with his son and Uma!  The family immediately merged in His Abode!

The above story taken from here.

As a young girl, I’ve been scared to hear this story first. And surely I had conflicting thoughts like…

I made a vow that I should never have a son – What if the Lord Shiva comes and asks for him ??? or

What if I don’t pray to Lord Shiva – then he’ll not come to test me like this !!!

It sounds silly to me now, but as a child, I was totally disturbed, whether to really pray to Lord Shiva or not…Lord Krishna with his merry-making seemed a better alternative.

This was the fear which was sown into the minds of a young girl, that we need to be totally hospitable to our guests and treat their every wish as our command.  And I’ve seen my amma slogging in the kitchen on her one day weekend break, Sunday, cooking and more cooking for guests, as that was the time when people visited us. Now, we see each other only in FB…thats a different issue altogether.

I am not telling that my mother shouldn’t have entertained guests at her home. It’s a lovely feeling….but I think she forgot to draw a line and the guests poured in weekend after weekend – see, my amma cooks damn tasty dishes.

Now, my question is, why didn’t my mother say that she’s not feeling too well to entertain guests, on a particular weekend ??? Is it a horrible thing to say – Dont come to my home, as I am not well ???

First, these guests are our relatives or our friends. If we can’t put the truth out about our health to our own relatives and friends, then whats the meaning of that relationship ???

I certainly feel that a person has all the rights to cancel a dinner or a lunch, when they are not up to it, health-wise or emotion-wise. This person should be the  deciding authority and certainly it’s not a decision of the guests.

Why don’t we learn this simple thing in life and learn to draw lines when needed and learn to say a NO, when required ??? Is that too hard a thing to do, when your health or emotions are concerned ????


It’s wonderful to entertain guest

Eat and laugh with them

Have a gala time together

Also there’s a line to draw

A No to say

When we don’t feel up to it

Probably this is better

Than ending in the