Monday, November 16, 2015


Now, immediately on the heels of the drought described in my previous blog(post 1.24), a second disaster unfolds in Ponnivala. The problem begins as the Chola’s ear-tagged cows reach Kolatta’s lands and find his finest field. It stands out for its tasty, near-mature crop of sugarcane. The cows eye the delicious-looking stand of tall stalks with hunger in their eyes. But they know that the owner will be upset if they enter the field and start to trample the sugarcane as they munch on it. In a nice mythical touch, these cows can speak to one another using human-like voices. Soon we hear one “sister” cow warning the others that they risk a beating if they enter this fine field during daylight hours. So they decide to delay this prospective feast and instead hang around in a wooden area where they will not be seen... until after dusk.

As soon as the sun sets, however, the cows start back to Ponnivala’s lush sugarcane field. Now the small group of hungry bovines enter the field bravely. There they do indeed feast! Many stalks re trampled as they munch, but their stomachs are soon filled and the cows are content. The clip ends as they exit the field. Why should they feel any quilt one might ask? Surely the owner of their field has an obligation to consider their hunger and to share his bounty with them. Like beggars at a temple shrine, these cows have a right to alms. Shouldn’t he welcome them and consider their welfare a sacred duty? Furthermore, these cows are tired and hungry wanderers. A man with this much wealth, a local king, should welcome them as guests and treat them to all they ask for. After all, they should be treated as guests and fed until they can eat no more! These are well-known local social “norms,” and these cows have every right to expect their observance! But all is not so simple in a land where a pioneer farmer has just struggled to bring forth his first fine sugarcane crop. We will see what happens next when I discuss the matter further in an ensuing blog (see Post 1.26, to follow).

Signing off for now,
Blogger” Brenda Beck
The Sophia Hilton Foundation of Canada

Have you experienced The Legend of Ponnivala on TV or in print? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

To find out more about The Legend of Ponnivala -- the legend, the series, the books, and the fascinating history behind the project, visit 

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