Thursday, May 17, 2012

Episode 4: A Love Match

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.

A wandering, orphaned boy is adopted by two prosperous and kind farmer-brothers. The boy begins to work for these men as a shepherd. He grows up and then discovers he has fallen in love with the little sister of his two rich masters. But he has no hope of marrying his sweetheart because she stands so far above him, socially.

Refuge Found at Last

The little hero now runs towards a temple he sees on the horizon. On the outskirts of that village he finds a wealthy farmer sitting at the local (Ganesh) temple. The man strikes up a conversation and asks the boy where he is from. Learning that he is an orphan from a farming family he decides to take him in. He is treated kindly for a change. He is offered a bath and food and then hired on as a shepherd. He is treated well and (we learn later) he stays there for some twenty years.

The Hero Falls In Love with a Girl Whose Social Rank is Too High

The boy-hero finally finds refugee with a kind family of rich landowners. He is assigned work as a shepherd and also asked to push a garden swing for his two bosses’ lovely young daughter. The hero notices her charms and gradually falls in love. But the boy does not dare to show his interest. He is a mere worker in the eyes of these powerful farmers. Time passes. He keeps his feelings of affection hidden.

The Hero's True Status is Revealed by a God

The goddess who looks after the boy’s (unknown) former family lands is unhappy. Her temple on earth has not had a good cleaning for twenty years. So she goes to her brother, Lord Vishnu, to seek his advice. Promising to help, Vishnu takes the form of an elderly beggar and visits the shepherd boy at the cattlefold where he sleeps. He now “reveals” that the girl the hero admires is really an appropriate marriage mate (because he is an orphan he doesn’t know about his true parents, who were also local farmer-kings). The shepherd is shocked at this amazing news. At first he drives the mendicant away. Trying a second time, Lord Vishnu casts a spell over the boy. In this way he manages to persuade the humble shepherd/hero to request the hand of the girl he loves, in marriage.

Trial #1: The Hero Summons His Courage, But Fails To Sustain It

The hero, given courage, follows Vishnu to the palace in the early morning and stands on the path where her two elder brothers will soon pass on their way to their local temple to pray. But his steps are tentative. When the men see him he loses his courage to speak out.

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