Thursday, July 12, 2012

Episode 24: A Curse Revealed

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 War

The 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 Curse

As 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 Himself

The 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

The brothers are still too sick to fight so the assistant offers to lead the attack by himself. He takes all of the fighters and all of the dogs with him. This becomes a miserable failure. All the dogs, and all the fighters except the assistant himself, are killed by the monstrous boar. Lord Vishnu then descends to earth to help. He takes the disguise of a fortune teller. Then he approaches the heroes’ war tent and is welcomed inside. Reading from a traditional palm leaf manuscript he carries with him, the fortune teller reveals that the sickness the one brother is suffering has been by the little palace little she dog. It is what hangs over their tent and has caused them so much ill-fortune. He advises the men to apologize to the tiny creature and invite her to join them in the war effort.

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