Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Episode 8: A Cruel Curse

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 couple return to their ancestral lands after many years and decide to rebuild the husband’s ancestral palace. They invite a neighboring monarch to the completion celebrations. In turn he honors the pair and names them King and Queen of Ponnivala. But the new Queen suffers from a curse of barrenness and is worried about the future.

A Wondrous Palace Is Built

The newly rich farmer now sends for a thousand stone masons and carpenters to build his palace. It will be a fine building with many rooms. Lord Vishnu is watching from his couch on the milk sea. He decides to descend to earth and help. Invisibly, for every stone the masons lay, Vishnu lays another thousand. In this way their fine palace is quickly constructed.

A Grand Coronation Occurs

The farmer’s wife calls on Lord Vishnu and announces that she wants to perform a major “inauguration” ceremony. Lord Vishnu suggests that all three monarchs of the South (the well-known Chola, Chera and Pandiya kings) be invited. He also announces that he wants to confer a title on the family. A grand ceremony ensues with many honors accorded the new “king” of Ponnivala. Rather tardily, rival clansmen arrive and pay their respects to the three monarchs. The Chola king then tells them that they must give back all the lands that once belonged to the farmer-king’s father. The clansmen agree to do so and quickly leave.

A Tragic Curse: The Queen is Barren

The Chola now turns to the new raja and issues a set of instructions on how to be a wise ruler. Then he leaves for his own territory, hoping that the Ponnivala area will now be ruled with justice and kindness. But the couple lack one vital thing: children. They purchase a pair of fine cows, two handsome horses, and even a male and female pig. But none of these animals bear offspring. Finally the queen grows weary of her barrenness and yearns to visit her natal household. There she can at least see her brother’s children. Her husband is vehemently opposed to this plan. He remembers the way that family “cast them out” at the moment of their marriage. But the queen is determined to go and starts her preparations.

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