Coconut country

Elanthoppu: Tradition in a ‘nutshell’

We tend to see what we want to see. That probably is the reason why I found it difficult to attribute the presence of three coconut trees on the shores of Elanthoppu, to chance.

Only a few minutes ago, a resident of Elanthoppu, 5.5 km before Mamallapuram on East Coast Road (ECR), had decrypted the coastal village’s name, for me. According to him, the village has nearly 60 houses and each household keeps coconut trees on its premises, following a hoary tradition. ‘Elan’ refers to tender coconut and ‘thoppu’ to a grove.

So, when I headed to the beach, this stand of three coconut trees (the image has only two of them) swaying in the wind, took on a new meaning. It’s not uncommon for coconut trees to be found near the beach. On the same coastline, at Kundrukadu in Covelong, I have seen coconut trees standing not too far from the beach. But, these three trees strike me as odd, as the neighbouring stretches of the shoreline don’t have coconut trees, unless I have missed something.

Were these trees planted decades ago as a symbol of this tradition? Most likely, not. To confirm the story about this village, found on the other side of ECR, I make a visit. The houses in the village found bang on ECR have coconut trees. In fact, a house that has now been converted into an eatery still retains its coconut trees.

However, most residents don’t attach much significance to this fact. One of them just shrugs if away, “Our forefathers probably did this for some reason.”

Actually, not just Elanthoppu, but also the neighbouring locality, called Pattipulam, is dotted with coconut trees. In fact, there is an equal distribution of palm trees. And, on ECR, you will know Pattipulam has arrived, when you see vendors selling tender coconuts and nongu (palm) fruits by the side of the road.

So, this section is generally coconut-rich and a section of the population has probably given this a larger meaning — that seems to be a reasonable inference, doesn’t it?

Let me admit that I did not knock on the doors of all the sixty houses to confirm the story. I however don’t mind doing it sometime, just to meet an iconoclast who is aware of the tradition, but does not want to keep it. I am sure there must be one — if not, some — of them.

When you are visiting Tiger’s Cave, you may visit Elanthoppu as well, as it is just half-a-kilometre away.

(Hidden Trails is a column that shows you how to be a tourist in your own city)

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 10:06:30 PM |

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