I am 55 years old and I have been weaving mallippoo right from the age of 12. My father and grandmother are from Sri Lanka. I was born and brought up in Azhwarpuram and moved to Tallakulam later for a living where I was fascinated to see women weaving jasmine in front of the Prasanna Venkatachalapathy Temple. Their deft finger work to string the flowers together impressed me. Later I learnt the technique from them. I earned well enough to support my parents.
After my marriage with Ramamoorthy, I was blessed with twin boys and two girls. I lost one of the boys in a road accident when he was 15. I gifted my house to my second son and I live in a rented house now. My youngest daughter is studying M.Sc. Computer Science.
Each flower has a different weaving technique. I string around two kilos of flowers a day. Earlier, I used to tie around four to five kilos but the age is telling on me. Till recently, people split stands of banana sheaths and used them to tie the flowers but now we use cotton and nylon threads.
My husband was a painter but I forced him to join my business. He takes care of the garland section now. I feel happy that all my family members help me to run the show.
I start my day at 5 a.m. and stay here till 10.30 p.m. in between I visit my house which is nearby to prepare food for my family.
(A fortnightly column on men and women who make Madurai what it is)