The author cleaning the garden as a part of KEEP THE CAMPUS CLEAN CAMPAIGN in KADAPA in 1997
During my college studies in the late fifties in Alagappa College, Karaikudi, Tamilnadu there was a great, respectable English Lecturer who used to say “AN ENGLISHMAN can write VOLUMES and VOLUMES on a BROOM STICK”! These words are still green in my fading memory!
In those days I used to wonder at the possibility of writing volumes on a broom stick-not a very significant material in a man’s life. Writing volumes on an insignificant thing……………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????????????
But then with age advancing, experience swelling I began to feel that writing “pages” if not “volumes” for an Indian, writing English, cannot be much difficult. He writes and it is for the readers to accept or reject the language and contents, style and subject!
In Indian ethos, CLEANLINESS is next to GODLINESS and it is Indian’s priority whether it is personal or domestic, official or societal and none need to teach us the value of cleanliness. That the Governments spend in crores for maintaining cleanliness in the country for decades is a proof positive for its earnestness.
A sweeper’s main instrument for carrying his duties is the BROOM STICK and it is to him a God sent helper. Yet a sweeper feels and prays thus in my ENVIUS THOUGHTS:
A SWEEPER’S PRAYER
Oh! My Lord! The benevolent Creator!
Grateful I am for making me a sweeper
To make our homes, the roads and city cleaner
Give me the mind to do my duties clear!
Easy it is to clean the roads and homes sure
Before let me sweep my mind with dirt that stinks
Bless me with the art of making men’s minds pure
It is too much to ask of Thee, King of Kings?
My broom stick is too weak to do that I know
Thee and Thee alone can make it strong and show
We can cleanse our minds too with Thy grace and love
Help me play my part with the mind of a dove!
Cleanliness of the home and mind important
For the men to be free and noble constant
Let me sweep, sweep well honestly with fervor
Seeking all Thy blessings, support and favor!
Mind and body clean and noble sure dear
To Thee, and the world we know very clear
Yet we are not able to make wholly pure
Bless me Lord, to succeed in my effort to cure!
A lady sweeper on her duty with her tool.
Yes; that is a sweeper’s prayer and I do not know whether this prayer will be granted in full by the benevolent God! But let us go on with our broom stick, hoping for a great day when the whole world will have people with clean and noble mind and the whole human society will enjoy peace and poise, health and happiness, plenty and prosperity!
I hear a distant voice: ” Oh, man! In which age you are?The days of the broom sticks are gone and today is the day of VACUUM CLEANER!”. Does not matter , purpose of both are identical and the technological favor only helps one to do it with greater ease and felicity! Cleaning continues to be the goal and objective!
Today’s vacuum cleaner- yesterday’s broom stick!!!!
Born as human beings we are all of us- President to the pauper, Principal to the sweeper, CEO to a chaprasi, Scientist to a cleaner- every one should have at one time or other in our life, made use of a BROOM STICK- or a VACUUM CLEANER!
BROOM STICK has its own history! Let us have a look at it.
A broom is a cleaning tool consisting of usually stiff fibers (often made of materials such as plastic, hair, or corn husks) attached to, and roughly parallel to, a cylindrical handle, the broomstick. It is thus a variety of brush with a long handle. It is commonly used in combination with a dustpan.
In many Asian countries, however, brooms are not always made of stiff fibers, as there is often a distinction between a “hard broom” and a “soft broom”. Soft brooms are made for sweeping the walls of cob webs and spiders, and are very important for that reason. Hard brooms are made for the harder job of actually sweeping dirt of side walks.
Any word in any language has its own etymology and here is that of a BROOM:
The word “broom” is derived from the name of certain thorny shrubs (Genista and others) used for sweeping. The name of the shrubs began to be used for the household implement in Late Middle English and gradually replaced the earlier besom during the Early Modern English period. The song Buy Broom Buzzems (by William Purvis 1752–1832) still refers to the “broom besom” as one type of besom (i.e. “a besom made from broom”)
It has its own manufacturing history in different parts of the world and I reserve this aspect for a thesis to get my Doctoral research degree!
BROOM STICK has a vast history behind it and have a look at it from European angle:
The broom stick was an important fixture in ancient homes through out Europe. Most homes were made of wood, straw and dirt floors. The only way to keep a home clean was to sweep out the old. This concept is even documented in the Bible.In Isaiah 14:23 (KJV translation) I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts.In Luke 15:8 “The Parable of the Lost Coin”: “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?”
One of the earliest forms of the broom is known as the Besom Broom. They were made of twigs tied to a handle. The bristles can be made of various materials such as straw, herbs, or twigs.
The shaft is round to represent the branch of a tree. This associates the broom with the Tree of Life which was an important symbol in ancient pagan Europe. Traditionally a Besom broom is made from hazel wood and the bristles are birch twigs. These brooms were often found just inside a dwelling hanging with bristles up to ward off evil spirits, negative energies and to protect the home and all who dwell within it. It could also be found hanging over a door with the bristles facing in the direction of opening of the door. They were relatively inefficient as a cleaning implement and needed constant repair or recreation. Today Besom Brooms are still crafted and sold at garden centers as an outdoor broom. You can also find decorated and scented versions (ie: cinnamon besom brooms) in craft stores for indoor decorations. The brooms relation to sweeping away negative energies and use for protection makes it a wonderful tool for magical practices and rituals. Consequently it wasn’t a big leap for European pagans to use the broom as a tool.
There is a lot of delicious thoughts on “HOW DID WITCHES COME TO RIDE BROOMSTICKS?”
The popular icon of a witch is an ugly old woman riding across the sky on her magic broomstick and wearing a pointed hat. But as with all mythologies there is an element of truth behind the image. Witches did ride brooms, after a fashion, the brooms were magic, in a way, and the pointed hat was the mildest of the punishments inflicted on them for their activities! Look at the witch below!!!
A typical witch-an old ugly lady with a broom stick and pointed hat flying in the sky!!
Look at the broomsticks made from coconut tree leaves widely used in Tamilnadu, India.
When an Englishman can write VOLUMES and VOLUMES on a BROOM STICK, I was eager to write at least a 1000 words! I have successfully accomplished my goal! It is for my esteemed viewers to judge the quality of this write .
Photo by Nivetha.
The author with a traditional coconut leave- stems made Broom stick in his home!