Until a few years ago, in Telugu household, education used to start from home. Mother used to be the first teacher. Whenever she found time, especially while feeding the two or three-year old child, mother used to make the child repeat what ever she recited. These recitations used to be the first lessons of education for children. A very common scene comes to my mind here. A mother feeding her son or daughter under the pleasing and cool light of full moon night, picking little quantities of food from a small bowl made of silver held in her hands and gently placing it into the mouth of the child who is comfortably placed in her lap…she reciting this poem and the child repeating it as best as it could! One of the top most popular poems used by mothers in such recitations is this ‘chaaTu’ poem told in ‘aaTa veladi’ meter by a person whose name is not known:
cheata vennamudda cheMgalva poodaMDa
baMgaaru molatraaDu paTTudaTTi
saMdetaayatulunu sirimuvva gajjelu
chinni kRshNaa! ninnu cheari kolutu!
చేత వెన్నముద్ద చెంగల్వ పూదండ
బంగారు మొలత్రాడు పట్టుదట్టి
సందెతాయతులును సిరిమువ్వ గజ్జెలు
చిన్ని కృష్ణా! నిన్ను చేరి కొలుతు!
With a little handful of butter(1) and a garland of red water lilies
With a golden lace around the waist(2) and a silk cloth around the loins
With amulets to ward off evil and anklets of lustrous small bells
You are there little Krishna! I stand before you and adore!
Notes: (1) Lord Krishna in the form of a child is always presented with a handful of butter, which He is famously fond of (2) The Telugu word ‘molatraaDu’ generally means a string of colored cotton thread, usually red color, that is tied around the waist of a male. It is a common sight in Indian household that children are adorned with these strings made of silver.