- Shankar, the younger of Ponnivala’s twin rulers, is angry.
He has just been insulted by a huge wild boar. News has come to
the palace that this great beast has just ripped up some of his
- Shankar and his brother Ponnar are listening to the news from
the family flower gardener. This man has just run to the palace to
report the boar’s rampage. He is covered with mud and is still
shaking in terror. He is telling the twin kings this story:
- “I was on my way to the fields for my morning round of
flower picking but nothing was normal. Instead of fine sugarcane
and lush, ripening paddy I saw devastation everywhere I looked. The
tall stalks of cane had been ripped out and the dam holding back the
water in the irrigation tank had broken. Clumps of roots lay
everywhere and all our previous plants lay overturned in a sea of
muddied water. Then I went to the palace flower garden. It was
ruined too, but one tree was left standing. I climbed that to
survey the damage. Just then a huge wild boar appeared beneath tree
and started to bully me. He was far bigger than anything I have
- “That boar told me to climb down and face him on the
ground. I refused. So he struck the tree with his huge tusks. The
tree broke into two and I went flying. I landed in the mud some
- That beast followed me. He ordered me to stand up and turn
around so that he could see my back.
- “Then he wrote a message in the mud that had stuck to me,
using his right tusk. He addressed his words to you two, the great
twin rulers of Ponnivala. I know this because he read it aloud to
me. He has declared war and demanded that you both meet him in the
forest within three days. He signed his letter ‘King Komban.’”
- The brothers thank the gardener for the news, and for his
bravery. Then they send him to rest and go straight to the palace
courtyard to consult with their sister Tangal. Because she has
special visionary powers, Tangal is not surprised by what her
brothers tell her. She already suspected that something terrible
was about to happen.
- Tangal thinks for a moment and then tells her brothers that
she wants to conduct a test. She asked them to follow her to the
family’s Ganesh temple. She asks them to bring their swords. She
also takes a moment to get ready. As they walk out of the palace
together her brothers notice that she has carried with her a white
cloth. She is also holding something clenched in the fist of her
right hand. They don’t know what she is bringing with her.
- Once the three siblings reach the temple, Tangal lays her
white cloth on the ground. Then she opens up her clenched fist and
shows her brothers what she has brought. There in the palm of her
hand are a bunch of black peppercorns and equal number of mustard
seeds. Tangal explains: “This is my test. I am going to throw
these seeds in the air. I want you both to throw your swords. You
must fling them upwards in such a way that they split every pepper
forn and every mustard seed into two!”
- Tangal proceeds to throw her handful of omens into the air.
The two brothers follow suit and throw their swords upward with
mighty thrusts. Soon the swords return to their owners hands.
Meanwhile the mustard seeds fall back onto the white cloth.
- Tangal then looks at the result. She makes a mental note of
the fact that most of the seeds have indeed been split. But there
are just two that remain uncut, one peppercorn and one mustard
grain. She sees this because of her special powers of vision. Her
brothers do not notice this detail.
- Tangal is worried by the results of her
test. She understands that the outcome is predicting the worst.
Her brothers will never return from the war they plan to wage
against the great King Komban. The split seeds indicate that many
others will die. But the two un-split ones show that their own
“heads” will remain intact but soon serve as seeds, seeds that
will get “planted” and then serve to begin an entirely new era.
Tangal’s beloved brothers and their lovely region known as
Ponnivala, will be no more.
- But Tangal is afraid to tell her brothers about the truth of
her vision. She knows that they will not accept her words and her
verdict. So she lies to them saying: “Dear brothers, all the
seeds have been split in two. My test has determined that you will
win this war and come home safely.”
- The three siblings return to the palace. Shankar quickly
calls his trusted assistant Shambuga and orders him to raise the
family’s old war drum from its resting place at the bottom of
Ponnivala’s great irrigation tank.
- Shambuga does this. He cleans the drum and refits it with a
fresh leather head. He even performs a short puja ceremony for it.
He also readies the family’s huge boar hunting spear.
- Meanwhile, Ponnar and Shankar proceed to their palace
dressing room. There they put on their finest fighting silks.
- They also perform a short puja worship for Lord Vishnu,
asking for his blessings. And most important of all, they now put
on their protective warrior chest threads.
- Now Shambuga begins to beat the family’s great war drum.
Its deep “tum, tum” sound can be heard throughout the kingdom.
- The forest animals are startled and afraid. They jump and start to run wildly in all directions.
- The fieldworkers in the area, all of whom are loyal to their
twin Ponnivala masters, know the meaning of this sound too. They
prepare for a great hunt and assemble with their fighting sticks at
a place reserved for just this purpose. It is called “Heron
Valley.” They wait there for their leaders to arrive.
- But Tangal is not quite ready to say goodbye to her brothers.
She wants them both to take a palanquin ride around all the hamlets
belonging to the kingdom of Ponnivala.
- The twin brothers agree to this. As they pass by the homes
of all their loyal supporters everyone stops to admire and bless
- Then Tangal herself says her last goodbyes. She cries as she
bids them farewell. She knows that she will never see her two dear
- Now that all is ready the two brothers prepare to leave. They mount their fine blue-black steeds at the front door of the palace. It is time for their departure!