Monday, May 21, 2012

Episode 5: A Magical Marriage

In this feature, we outline the chapters of The Legend of Ponnivala as we've laid them out in the animated and print series. The sub-story descriptions are those that occur in each episode, and are drawn from our Teacher's Handbook.

Lord Vishnu tells a hard working shepherd orphan that he is eligible to marry his bosses’ lovely young sister. This god tells the frightened boy his parents were also farmers and arranges a magical forest marriage. But the girl’s family are upset at this match and banish the newlyweds. The couple leave to seek the boy’s ancestral home, Ponnivala.

Trial #2: The Hero is Tested and Bullied for a Second Time

Once the hero is back in his familiar surround Vishnu appears once more, again in disguise and again uses sacred ash to cast a spell. This time he gives him clearer instructions. He is to explain to his “bosses” who he is and how he is related to their sister. Then he is to immediately demand her hand. So the next morning the elder brothers of the lovely girl now find the boy standing in their path again. This time he finds the courage to speak. He tells them that he really the son of a powerful farmer and thus their equal. But the two brothers react badly and give the boy a severe beating for his egotism. He falls unconscious and the men then place a big stone on him, assuming he will die.

Trial #3: The Hero is Tested for a Third Time a helper intervenes

When the shepherd regains consciousness he is still under a huge stone. But now he sees Vishnu standing beside him. He moans and asks the god for help. Vishnu throws magical ash on the brother’s palace and it catches fire. The servants rush out. They ask the two brothers to stop the fire. Suffering themselves now, the two men go to the temple to find help. There they see a beggar (Vishnu in disguise) and address him as a learned man. Gradually Lord Vishnu reasons with the brothers and explains that they really are related to the shepherd boy. The men listen and accept this “revelation.” They then lift the stone off the suffering boy. But these men still refuse to marry their sister to a former palace servant.

The Problem is Resolved and the Marriage Arranged

The old beggar demands that the girl be given to him. The brothers resist. But the wise man points to the fire consuming their palace. They now see they have been “set up” for a bargain. They consent to hand over their sister to the old man in exchange for his promise to stop the fire. He does this and the girl is sent to the edge of the village to meet him where he said he would wait. This god-in-disguise now arranges the wedding in a no-mans-land outside the village in a forest. Only the other gods attend. Once the wedding is over the brothers leave several gifts and signs on the path indicating that their sister is never to return home. Instead she and her husband are now to leave the area entirely. The newlyweds walk away from the village.

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