Monday, June 18, 2012

Episode 15: The Truth Unveiled

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.

Family clansmen attack the Ponnivala palace, sending the King, Queen and their baby daughter into exile. The couple flee to the forest and end up living in a humble hut. The Queen has to work to feed her suffering family. But a surprise is in store when two sons they don’t know they have, start asking the local goddess about their true parents.

The Royal Couple Are Forced Into Exile

The scheming clansmen now begin to threaten the king, using the excuse that he has no male heirs. They beat and bully the family mercilessly until the latter become resigned to leaving their lands and to seek refuge elsewhere. They first go to the village where they have traditional ties and loyal workers. But these allies warn that their presence puts them all in danger of being beaten and further harassed by the same clansmen who just pushed the couple out of their palace.

The Wandering Family Finds Refuge in a Horse Stable

The king, queen and their little baby daughter now leave their familiar Ponnivala territory all together. They decide to retreat to the forested hills where a group of tribal hunters live. There they are offered safe haven and a good meal. But a problem soon appears. The destitute family is offered food by their hunter-hosts, but they try (politely) to refuse. The hunter king suspects (correctly) that this refusal is for caste reasons. In simple terms the farmers perceive themselves to be superior to a group of hunters and don’t want to take food from the hands of this “inferior” community. Now the hunter king gets angry and the only refuge he will offer the destitute couple is to set up house in an old horse stable.

Two Sons Learn The Truth About Their Parents

They have no food and the wife of the king is forced to offer to do common labor (pounding rice) in exchange for food supplies. The other women of the village reject her as too frail and inexperienced to do hard work, but with the help of Lord Vishnu she manages to husk prodigious amounts of paddy rice. Meanwhile the boys grow fast, cared for lovingly by the goddess. One day she is singing a lullaby to the boys that makes a vague reference to their parentage. The younger son (the aggressive one) instantly demands to know who their real parents are and where they are located. The goddess now reveals to the boys their true identity and promises to return the twins to their parents as soon as she can discover their whereabouts.

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