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.The two rulers of Ponnivala lie dead after a great battle. Their sister reads the signs they left and knowing they have given up their lives. She burns the palace. She then sets off on a to find her brothers’ bodies. When she does she revives them briefly for a last conversation. Memorial pavillions are built. Then all three rise up to find a place beside Lord Shiva in his world above.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
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.The two warrior-brothers of Ponnivala lie sick. They are cured after humbling themselves before the palace she-dog. Coming to the heroes’ aid, the dog attacks, weakens the boar but leaves the final death-spear throw to her masters. The forest hunters seek revenge in a huge battle. The heroes win, however their time on earth is now up. They gift their lives to Lord Shiva.
A Big Apology that Yields ResultsThe kings now sends for the forgotten dog. When she is found and brought to the war camp the younger king offers her his apology. She volunteers to help and asks her two Lords to go and wait with their great boar spear at the top of a huge rock. The little dog then finds the great boar, challenges it, chews on its ears, bites it with poisoned fangs and generally weakens it greatly. As a consequence the huge boar runs in pain and distress toward the high rock. The little dog rides along on the boar's tail.
The Boar is Killed and The Meat Divided Into SharesJumping off the boar’s tail the little dog advises the heroes to throw their spear now for the final kill. The weapon hits its target and the great boar dies, but not before it calls out to the hunter's little sister in its distress. The hunters declare war. Lord Vishnu himself descends from heaven to lead their army. But just as these fighters advance towards the heroes Lord Vishnu asks them to pause and wait for him Then he approaches the heroes in the disguise of a washerman. They have now butchered the boar and divided the meat into seven portions in preparation for a ritual feast. But the washerman begs for a small piece of the sacrifice. The elder hero (when his brother has stepped away from the scene), offers the leftover boar’s head to the washerman instead. Lord Vishnu drags the head away.
The Heroes Die In A Heroic And Sacrificial WayNo sooner does the washerman leave than Vishnu is back leading his army of hunter-warriors. Very soon the two groups meet and start to fight. But the younger brother soon turns to his powerful assistant with a question. “How can these guys keep coming and coming? We have killed so many!” he comments with exasperation. Then Vishnu does something significant. He creates a vision such that the young twin can suddenly see hundreds of fighting hunters emerging. one after the other one, from the Lord’s right palm. This shows the hero that Vishnu himself has “created” the entire war. It is his play, his illusion. The hero draws his sword against Vishnu but the power of the god freezes him in his tracks. The Lord then asks the twins to spend one last heroic moment fighting their enemies. Both join in briefly and together they kill a few more challengers. Then, weary of battle, the two men go to wash the blood off their swords by wading into a nearby river. At that moment Lord Vishnu (hidden in the branches of a tree) shoots the younger twin's protective chest thread off with a freshly made flower-arrow. Both heroes now recognize that this is Lord Vishnu's private sign to them. that the time allocated by the gods for their lives on earth is almost over. Accepting this message, the two heroes and their loyal assistant all commit heroic suicides on a hillock overlooking the river bank. The two brothers fall forward, the younger one first, each on his own battle sword. The assistant follows suit, but uses a pointed tree branch instead, since does not carry a sword of his own.
Lord Vishnu Takes The Heroes’Spirits Up To HeavenLord Vishnu soon arrives on the hillock where the heroes have died. He now takes the spirit lives of these three men back to heaven in a tiny golden box. There he presents all three to the great god Shiva. And reminds him of the bargain made long ago. When he brought the lives of the heroes back, Shiva was to return his conch shell, and also a sacred powder box. Shiva makes the exchange graciously. Back on earth, the loyal little sister sees that the signs of her brother's well being have changed (the coconut has broken open, the jasmine flowers have wilted, the sandalwood powder has dried up, the water in the pot has disappeared and the burning wick of the little lamp has gone out) She knows that her two brothers are now dead. Saddened and horrified she wonders what to do.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
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.The twin rulers of Ponnivala set off on a great boar hunt. Their sister asks them to leave signs that they will be O.K. Her dog, angry at being left behind, curses the heroes. They fall sick. Meanwhile, the First Minister leads an unsuccessful attack. The boar slaughters all their warriors. Lord Vishnu reveals the heroes’ true problem. The dog wants an apology.
The Heroes Dress For WarThe little sister is all-seeing and senses that her brothers will not return from their battle against their hunter enemies. Knowing that her brothers are going into battle, she asks that they first let themselves be carried through the streets in royal style so that everyone can say their “goodbyes.” Then they go into the palace dressing room and adorn themselves with fine silks. They also tie on sacred, protective neck threads. Furthermore, even through the sister knows that she will not see her brothers again, she still wants to be double sure she has some sense of what is happening. So she asks them to provide six signs that will indicate the day-to-day state of their well-being: The sister wants her brothers to present her with: a whole coconut, a burning lamp, a ripe mango fruit. fresh flowers, a dish of water, and a small bowl of turmeric. The two brothers supply these on a tray for her to keep close to her side. Next they send their huge assistant ahead to set up a war tent. The fighting men from the 56 “revenue” villages under their leadership gather for the fight.
A Little Dog Sickens The Younger Hero With A Powerful CurseAs the two heroes ready for departure and stand on the palace porch, their little sister runs towards them. The brothers tell her they are laving for the war. They ask her to bless their swords. She only cries. Then, with tears in her eyes she bids them goodbye and they take their leave. The two men depart on horseback for the great war. The fighters have taken all the fearsome dogs of the kingdom with them but they have overlooked the tiny little palace dog. She is insulted and now goes to the family goddess. There she begs that a curse be placed on the younger twin. Afterwards she goes and finds a deep hole where she will hide, out of the sight of all who were left behind at the Ponnivala palace. The curse request is passed by the family goddess to a “sister” who is the fearsome and warlike Kali. Then Kali causes it to leave the little dog’s secret den and fly through the forest all the way to the forest camp. Soon the younger twin falls ill in the heroes’ war tent. He can no longer fight. Fear of the boar's three day ultimatum hangs heavy in the air.
The Heroes’ Assistant Offers To Lead The Fighting Men HimselfThe heroes’ huge assistant now offers to go and locate the boar's hideaway by himself. After finding the beast he plays his horn to the boar, tricking him into a deep sleep. The brave assistant then sneaks into the boar’s lair and pulls out nine of the great enemy’s back hairs. Then he quickly returns with these to the war camp of the heroes. When these are burnt in a small fire the smell proves that he has indeed carried back boar to prove his success. He now knows where the enemy is hiding.
There Is A Wartime Disaster
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Ponnivala team was in Baltimore MD for the 2012 FeTNA Silver Jubilee Convention. Tamils from all over North America converged on the spectacular Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall from July 6-8 for a weekend of music, food, networking, and cultural exchange.
At the welcome dinner on Thursday evening, Dr. Brenda Beck was asked (unexpectedly!) to come up to the podium and say a few words (in Tamil) about the Ponnivala project. Her speech was received with raucous applause, and chants of "Brinda! Brinda!"...which of course took her completely by surprise!
As part of the official program beginning on Friday, Dr. Beck gave a Powerpoint talk on the Ponnivala story, outlining why this epic is so significant to a deeper understanding of Tamil culture.
On Saturday, the team hosted a Parcheesi game for kids. Parcheesi is a traditional Indian game that was a favourite passtime of the heroes of the Ponnivala legend, Ponnar and Shankar. In our version, a board 4 feet by 4 feet is used, covering a large area of the floor. The kids at this event were divided into girls' and boys' teams. It was an interesting and fun experience, because although individual girls ended up getting to the centre of the board first, the boys strategized together and ended up landing all four of their markers in the centre at the same time!
All-in-all it was an exciting and enriching experience, and we hope to be invited back to next year's FeTNA Convention in Toronto!
FeTNA, the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, is an umbrella organization of Tamil Sangams that function within North America. Founded in 1987, the inaugural assembly of 400 people was held in the spring of 1988 in Broomall, Pennsylvania. Since then, FeTNA has blossomed to include dozens of North American Sangams representing thousands of people across the continent. Find out more at www.fetna.org.