The alternative was a punkah. Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines it as “a fan used especially in
Operating the fan was done by servants known as punka wallahs taking turns. The cord would be passed through a pulley on a door or wall. Drawing on the line moved the fan to and fro, creating air circulation.
Originally the punkahs were made of bamboo or light wood frames and
Not only the palaces and the bungalows but also churches in
How many generations of punkah wallahs have passed on after spending their lives tugging the ropes of the punkahs? What thoughts went through their minds while sitting outside an office chamber during the day, or bedroom at nights, silently carrying on the monotonous chore hour after hour?
Most of them were men of honor. Many secrets, heard, seen, while keeping their masters comfortable, went along with them as they vanished into history.
[The photographs (copyright reserved) are from the ancestral home of the Thekkanattu Parayil Tharakans at Olavipe, Kerala. Click on them for enlarged view.]