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Recently my Mother-in-law got our attic cleaned.  My In-laws have been in the same residence for the past 60 years. So, you must have guessed that the attic had many heirlooms of the bygone era.  The treasures in the attic included many  Brass Utensils that my mother-in-law brought as a part of her dowry.

brass india photoPhoto by TheLivingRoominKenmore

One interesting image was circled in Whatsup last year. It showed a room full of brass vessels with a caption. – Women’s Gym and Trainer –  Mother-in-law.  Yes, these vessels were very heavy.  Washing them was a bigger chore. Women took these vessels to the tap and scrapped them with tamarind and lemons all through the afternoons as they gossiped with neighboring women.  I felt there is a need to revisit the era and see what these utensils were used for.

Here are some of the Brass Vessels that our grandmothers and mothers, especially from South India, used……

  1. Brass Kuthu Vilakku –

Kuthu Vilakku is a lamp which is lighted before Gods in the Pooja room. It has five nozzles for lighting five wicks on auspicious occasions.  It denotes courage, longevity, health, wealth and learning.  The kuthu vilakku comes in various sizes sometimes more than 3 feet.  This is one brass item which is still in use during festive occasions.

  1. Pooja Taali – Brass Tambalam

Tambalam resembles a plate and comes in various sizes.  It was used for holding pooja items or using during ceremonies.  It is called pooja thali in the north belt.

  1. Brass Vana bosi

Brass photoPhoto by

This is a round vessel used for storing water or other provisions.  It sometimes came with two handles on both the sides.

  1. Chakli Press- Brass Muruku achu
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Women used this Chakli or muruku press to make heavenly savories like Murukku, Ribbon Pakoda, Chakklis etc.

  1. Tongs – Brass Idiki

Brass tongs were used to lift hot items from the stove.  This was one of the Brass Utensils that the bride carried to her in-law place.

  1. Idli steamer set – Brass Idli Kopparai

Most utensils that are made with stainless steel now were made in Brass years ago.  A complete Brass  Idli steamer – Plate was used by my grandmother to cook fluffy Idlis that were as soft as jasmine flowers.  Idli steamers had holes in them to let the steam through.  One had to pore idli batter on a cloth placed on the steamers to cook in this Idli Kopparai.

  1. Perforated ladle or Brass Kansattuvam

Kansattuvam is a perforated ladle in brass which was used for removing deep fried food out of oil.  A bigger Kansattuvam was used for making boondis for laddoos and mixture.

  1. Storing vessel with handle – Thooku

Thooku is a Long thin cylinder like brass vessel with a handle.  It was used to store oil or ghee.  It is the vessel which I search for goodies that my mother hoards during the festival seasons.

  1. Paniyaram vessel – Appakaralu

This brass utensil is used making the famous Paniyaram of the south.  Appakaralu has some seven pits that is first  filled with oil.  A batter of rice and lentil and spices poured into it to make fluffy paniyarams.  This  fried dumpling tastes heavenly with a sauce or mint chutney.

  1. Brass Pots or Vengala Pani

Venagala Pani is a small Brass pot used for cooking rice.  It was presented mostly during the first Pongal (Sankranti) which the bride celebrates in her husband’s household.  The brides family has to give this vessel for making the Sweet Pongal

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Some of the small Brass Utensils that were used are:

tiffin box photo

Photo by bandita

  • Big Brass pots for storing water
  • Coffee filter,
  • Small Brass cups for serving dessert
  • Tea filter, Seasoning utensil called Valkachi,
  • Sattuvams – ladles used for stirring,
  • Kendi a closed small vessel with a spout for drinking water.
  • Sombu which is called Lota in Hindi We use it for drinking water.  Most temples offer consecrated water  with tulsi from this vessel
  • Two or three-tier Tiffin boxes
  • Tumbler dabara sets used for drinking beverages like coffee and Tea
  • Paaysa kinnam used for making the sweet pudding called Payasam(kheer in the north)
  • Brass Salladey used for straining water
  • Sambadam a set of more than 3 storage containers (with lid) in an increasing order

The usage of Brass utensils has decreased with time.  One of the difficulties is in handling these heavy vessels.  With working women, the washing and other chores associated with it becomes even more challenging.

People now are waking up to the importance of brass vessels.  Studies show that these Brass Utensils have elements that can ward of diseases like cancer and Diabetes so common now.  Many are hence bringing them back to their kitchen racks.  Others are using one or two of these, especially on festive occasions to bring back the aura and to ingest the good elements that these products provide on using.

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Brass Utensils Used By South India In The Bygone Era

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