Friday, August 29, 2014

Ponnar and Shankar Part XV: Two Shrines Built

  • The twin kings of Ponnivala are now dead. Like true heroes, they have left his world of their own will, leaping skyward to make a brave fall onto the sharp tips of their own swords.

  • Their sister soon discovers the tray of signs her brothers left behind. Each marker has wilted, dried, rotted or broken in half. She knows these two fine men are no more.

  • Tangal begins a brave search to find her siblings. Letting her hair down she wanders in the forest alone, as if possessed. If in her right mind, she would never dare to enter this wild place by herself, an unknown space where many dangers lurk. But she is oblivious to all that. She must find her brothers’ dying place.

  • After a very long time, and with help from the king of the cobras, Tangal finds a Sun Maiden sitting on a pillar deep in the forest.

  • Tangal brings her a tier of freshly made earthen pots and asks her to fill them with substances that will help bring her brothers back from death.

  • The Sun Maiden, after much meditation, has obtained special powers. She is like a lightning rod that can conduct cosmic energy downward from the heavens, in this case that flow utilizes her own body. She uses these powers to fill Tangal’s pots with various special liquids, plus certain magically endowed fruits and grains.

  • Then this same yogini then offers Tangal her golden goose. She tells it to carry the young maiden over the mountain tops and the deep jungle to the heroes’ dying ground. The goose knows where her guest’s brothers’ bodies lie.

  • When Tangal reaches the sacred spot she sets out her seven pots and begins the ritual steps needed to resurrect them.

  • Soon both brothers, and also their loyal assistant Shambuga, have sprung back to life. They are surprised and very happy to find their sister talking to them.

  • Half crying, Tangal begs her brothers to come back to the family palace. She wants them to start over again and rebuild their fine Ponnivala kingdom. But the conversation does not last long. The two men say it is time to depart. Tangal has no choice in the matter.

  • So the sad and grieving sister calls on Lord Vishnu, asking him to create two simple carrying biers, one for her two brothers’ bodies and a second for their loyal First Minister. Vishnu also creates a group of pall bearers assigned to carry this sad, somewhat magical burden to the nearest town.

  • But before the funeral party is ready to start their journey, Yeman (the Lord of Death) appears. He prepares to take the spirits of the three dead men, which Tangal just recently coaxed back to their bodies for a few minutes. Yeman will fly the life force of all three men back to Lord Shiva’s Council Chambers in his own little box.

  • Now the procession starts with the two heroes in the lead and their loyal assistant Shambuga carried on his own bier, just a few feet behind them.

  • The two royal horses, Ponnar and Shankar’s magical blue steeds, run down the winding mountain path too. They follow the solemn procession at a respectful distance.

  • Soon the village of Virappur comes into view. Here is where the heroes will have their permanent shrines erected in preparation for a yearly festival that will honor their names.

  • Tangal sees the bodies of her two bodies on their simple carrying frame. Wanting to give them more respect, she prays to Lord Vishnu for help in decorating their humble stretcher.

  • With the blue horses watching, flowers and a lovely golden canopy decked with flowers appears and provides shade for the two royal bodies.

  • There is nothing to embarrass the family now. The bier is soon beautifully decorated.

  • Vishnu’s magical pall bearers carry the two bodies around the town for their last rite of homage. Everyone in the locale pays their last respects.

  • And now something surprising happens! Tangal’s prayers cause the bodies of her brothers to rise up. Their assistant Shambuga has already been assigned his side-shrine.

  • Two beautiful statues appears, each protected by its own domed enclosure.

  • The two horses are turned into stone statues too. They stand facing Shambuga together, side-by-side, choosing a posture that indicates their enduring loyalty and respect.

  • Tangal, meanwhile, has laid out all of her 18 ritual offerings. Her worship at the shrines dedicated to her twin brothers begins.

  • Tangal herself is the priest who conducts this first worship ritual at the shrine. Tangal rings the bell herself, a duty usually left to some non-family member, a local male priest.

  • This is how the shrine center dedicated to the twins heroes of Ponnivala came to be. Long may their story be told and long may it be remembered. The annual festival established by Tangal is thriving today and is reported to be growing in popularity and in grandeur, every year!

[<==Back to Part 14]

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