Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Episode 6: Roasted Seeds

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 young wedded couple reclaim one ancestral field from the husband’s clan rivals. These men try to undercut their first harvest by giving them secretly roasted seeds to sow. However the two persevere and Lord Vishnu decides to help them out. The rocky field they have worked so hard to plough are set to spring to life, as if by magic…

The Hero Finds the Old Family Homestead

The couple wander and eventually find the husband’s traditional lands in Ponnivala. They see that the old palace was long ago flattened and ploughed under. The first step is to perform a proper ceremony for the local goddess. She welcomes the attention and blesses them.

Rival Clansmen Dispute Control of the Family's Ancestral Lands

The joy of the newlyweds’ homecoming does not last. The young wife soon detects a problem. She sees a group of rival clansmen approaching lands the couple have identified as theirs. These men are carrying their ploughs. Unsure about how to proceed, the husband leaves to consult the major ruler in the area, a Chola king. That monarch calls the clan rivals to his palace. The overlord then orders them to give the land back to its rightful claimants. But the clansmen protest. A compromise is reached: The son will get back one insignificant field now, and the rest of his lands after the next harvest.

A Cruel Trick is Secretly Engineered by Rivals

The husband returns home and wants to plough his newly acquired land. He tells his wife he is going to borrow a yoke of oxen. He wants to go ask his the clansmen for this but his wife warns him against it. So he goes instead to an allied village to find families that traditionally provided services to his father. He is successful but upon returning home there is a second problem. He has forgotten to ask for planting seed. Again his wife warns him about the clansmen. This time, however, the hopeful farmer goes to them anyway (without telling his wife). Those rivals quietly “toast” the seeds before giving them to him.

The Insightful Wife Notices Her Husband Has Been Tricked

Upon returning home, however, the wife notices the seeds have been pre-cooked. The husband retains his confidence, but she is frightened and refuses to do the traditional woman’s job of planting (she fears the seeds won’t sprout and she’ll end up being held responsible). So the husband does the plowing and the planting both, by himself. But, unexpectedly, the hero is helped by Lord Vishnu who plants one magical seed beside each roasted one. But he doesn’t know this is happening. Assuming they will have a good harvest, the couple now plan to build a small house. Men from a “helper” village come to assist with the work. Their new home is soon complete.

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