Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

wikimedia commons

In the rhyme, the reference to cockle shells, bells, and gardens probably refers to Mary Tudor's Protestant graveyard.

The Reformation in England seems to have inspired a great many rhymes, cleverly worded to hide the gruesome reality of the time. Children's imaginations and memories have changed the meaning of these rhymes, but in truth, they have allowed the legacy of England's monarchy to carry on for generations.

The rhyme Mary Mary Quite Contrary has a rather threefold history to it. It is speculated that Mary refers to any of the most popular Marys in history. Since it cannot really be traced, it is simply assumed that Mary is a reference to all of them.

Mary (Mother of Jesus) is believed to be the primary reason this rhyme was written. Her garden is supposed to be an allusion to the various sacraments and monuments in Catholicism. The great bells, saints, pilgrims, and churches that populate various parts of the earth might be what the cockle shells and bells refer to.

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots Image source: wikimedia commons

The most popular, and widely accepted allusion, however, is that of the two Queen Marys. Mary Tudor (Mary I) and Mary Stuart (Queen of Scots) were queens who upheld the catholic faith, but whose lives were markers of persecution and tyranny on England and Scotland. Caught in the midst of the founding of a new world religion, both the queens vehemently opposed Protestantism. Mary Tudor reigned before Queen Elizabeth I and was the first one to oppose the new regime. She hated how it had broken her family, and went about promising to uphold a religiously diverse England, but as soon as she took the throne, brutally murdered as many Protestants as she could.

Mary Tudor, Queen of England. Image source: wikimedia commons

Mary Stuart, on the other hand, gained power during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. Contrary to her contemporary, she was the one persecuted for her faith. She had great ambitions to overcome Elizabeth I and reinstate Catholicism in England, but she never came through with her plan. Elizabeth was too powerful for her.

In the rhyme, the reference to cockle shells, bells, and gardens probably refers to Mary Tudor's Protestant graveyard. She was responsible for the death of many Protestant priests, and perhaps the downfall of newly instituted Protestant churches. During her time, England was also a vassal nation to Spain, and therefore, the keeping of bells in the garden could refer to the Church bells in Spain. The graveyard could also belong to the many children she miscarried. She could not have an heir, which is why Queen Elizabeth I became queen. 'Contrary' refers to her inability or her incompetence in restoring England to the time when it was entirely Catholic.

Bedroom of Mary Stuart, when she was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth for treason. (Image source: wikimedia commons)

Cockle shells also bear phonetic resemblance to Cuckold, which was a common practice in England during the 16th and 17th centuries. Mary Stuart's husband was famously known for this. Hence, if the rhyme were allegorical to her life, cockle shells bear reference to this allusion.

Keywords: Mary, Tudor, Stuart, Rhyme, Cockle Shells, England, Reformation


Wikimedia Commons

Holige, ready to serve

During the festive season, kitchens are filled with people trying to find a space for them to work, while they contribute to the eventual feast. In India, festivals are one of the most important things that bind families and friends together over food. Diwali is of those festivals that apart from being known for the colors and lights, is known and remembered by the elaborate dishes that each family doles out.

In Karnataka, parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and South India in general, making obbattu/ holige/ puran poli is a festive ritual. Known as Holige, more popularly in Kannada, this dish is eaten as a dessert because of its sweetness but can be eaten as a meal in itself because of its nutritious value.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Wikimedia Common

Kerala Kalamandalam admits girl students after 90 years

Kerala Kalamandalam that teaches the globally recognized art form of Kerala -- Kathakali, has for the first time in its history of 90 years, admitted girl students.

In class VII of Kalamadalam, out of 10 students admitted, 9 are girl students for its Kathakali course. Kathakali is a highly masculine art form with even the female characters being portrayed by men. The attempt is being welcomed across the world.

However several women had started practicing Kathakali in 1970 and 1990 and K.K. Gopalakrishnan, renowned art critic of Kerala in his research book, 'Kathakali Dance - Theatre', said that some women from foreign countries had trained for some short-term courses in Kerala on Kathakali.

Most of these performing women artists were either trained privately by Kathakali masters but this is the first time that Kalamandalam is taking in girl students for its long-term programme.

T.K. Narayanan, Vice-Chancellor, Kerala Kalamandalam told media persons that giving admission to girl students in Kalamadalam was a demand for several quarters since long and that this academic year the governing body has decided to give admission to girl students in a full-time programme at Kalamandalam.

Training at Kalamandalam from school days would expose the students to the teaching and guidance of experts and a diverse pool of teachers of the institute who have huge exposure and deep knowledge of the subject. (IANS/JB)

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi government would arrange free-of-cost travel for senior citizens from Delhi to Ayodhya.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the Delhi government would arrange free-of-cost travel for senior citizens from Delhi to Ayodhya.

"I want every Indian should be fortunate enough to have a 'darshan' (visit) of Ram Lalla. I am a small man but Lord Ram has given me enough and I will use my position to help people to come for darshan here," Kejriwal added after offering prayers at the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya on Tuesday.

Speaking to the media, he said, "I pray to Lord Ram to help India move ahead in the world and bring prosperity for 130 crore people."

Kejriwal, who visited the Hanuman Garhi temple, said he was fortunate enough to be in Ayodhya and seek blessings from Lord Ram for the welfare of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and the rest of the country.

The Delhi Chief Minister had arrived at the temple town on Monday and attended the 'Sarayu aarti' where he interacted with saints and seers. (IANS/JB)

Keep reading... Show less