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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Story from India

Today we are going to explore a Cinderella story from India called Anklet for a Princess by Lila Mehta and adapted by Meredith Brucker. First of course we will learn a bit about India. 
Administrative Map of India
Source


India is a country in Southern Asia. It is the seventh largest country in land and the second most populous country in the world. It has over 1.2 billion people living in it. It is the most populous democratic country. Having had historic trade routes as well as the ancient Indus Valley Civilization it has a long history. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are four world religions that began in India. 
Horizontal tricolour flag bearing, from top to bottom, deep saffron, white, and green horizontal bands. In the centre of the white band is a navy-blue wheel with 24 spokes.
Source

From the mid-nineteenth century until 1947 India was under Great Britain rule. In 1947 the country gained its independence from the United Kingdom. The struggle for independence was marked by non-violent resistance led by Mahatma Gandhi. In 1991 India became one of the fastest growing economies, however it still faces challenges of poverty, corruption, illiteracy, malnutrition, and terrorism. It has the third largest standing army and is a nuclear state.

Traditional Indian Society had a hierarchy called castes. In 1947 India declared untouchability illegal and has since enacted other anti-discriminatory laws. However in rural India many of the castes still exist. In urban society however they are not considered important. Family values are very important in India and a majority of Indian residents have arranged marriages which they have consented to. (Source)

Now onto our wonderful story!! According to the author's note, Ancient Indian societies believed the underwater world was ruled by snakes and dragons. These creatures were known to reward people who made offerings to them or that they took pity on. The snake itself was a symbol of strength and might. It also was a symbol for wealth, prosperity and royalty. Many East Indian dances contain movements inspired by the snake movements and reflect its importance to the culture.



In this story, it was a time when men had more than one wife since a large family was needed to work the farms. A man had two wives who each had a daughter.  Cinduri was one of the daughters. Shortly after her birth both of her parents died during a cholera epidemic. She was left with the other wife and daughter. They did not like farm work, so Cinduri had to do it all while they went on carriage rides and to visit friends. 


One day while Cinduri was at the pond getting fresh water, a large white snake with a red gem on its forehead sprayed water on her and spoke to her. The snake was upset when he heard she did all the work and was given little to eat and rags to wear. He magically made a plate of food appear for her and fed her and then said he would be her godfather and make her life easier from this point on.  He taught her a song to call him when she came to the pond and he would feed her and get her the best water from the deepest part of the pond and would help her in any other way he could.


The stepmother got curious as to why Cinduri looked like she was eating more and came back from the pond happy. She had her daughter, Lata, follow her. The snake scared Lata, but she stayed and watched and then ran home to report about the snake to her mother.


On her way back, Cinduri saw a messenger from the king. She ran home to tell her stepmother and half-sister.  The crown prince would be at their village for the ninth night of the Navarati Festival. The Navarati Festival is where the young people gather at harvest time in an outdoor pavilion to meet their friends and dance for nine evenings. Many of the young people hope to meet their future spouse there. Stepmother would not allow Cinduri to attend the festival. Cinduri watched as her half sister and stepmother dug through the trunks of family treasures for finery to wear and headed out on the ninth night to meet the prince. 


Cinduri did her chores, but then ran toward the lake to talk to her Godfather Snake. She told him about the festival and how she wanted to go. He gave her his red gem and showed her how to move and when she finished she was dressed more beautifully than she had ever seen anyone dressed including two beautiful anklets. Before she left he warned her the magic would end at midnight so she had to leave before then.

When she arrived at the festival she turned many heads and the prince came over and asked her to dance for him. She used the moves her godfather snake had shown her. They spent the evening together until he said it was almost midnight and he needed to light the aarti for the ceremony and asked her to accompany him. She ran off saying she must leave but in doing so she lost one of her anklets which the prince picked up.


The prince told his father about the beautiful woman he fell in love with and said he would marry no one but her. The search was on to find who could fit into the small anklet. The prince traveled to each village with the anklet and asked the young woman to come try on the anklet at a pavilion. Cinduri asked to go with her stepmother and half sister, but they said she could not go until all her chores were done and they gave her more than usual. She knew the prince would not still be there. Then she remembered she still had the magic gem of her godfathers. She held it and moved like he had taught her and all of her chores were magically done and her dirty dress had become clean without a patch on it. Off she ran to the pavilion. Just as she arrived the king said it was time to move on to the next village, but the prince caught sight of Cinduri and said just one more. He reached for her to come forward and try on the anklet. She did and pulled the other one out of her pocket and put it on. They were soon married and the king had a palace built for them. Cinduri told the prince about her special godfather and he had a pond built next to their palace so she could bring him to live with them and keep blessing them. 

When her stepmother and half sister had to do all the work for themselves, the farm fell into disarray. The animals wandered off and eventually they went and wandered the countryside begging.

For this story we made some egg carton snakes to represent Godfather Snake. We had big plans to make anklets, but never quite got them done. I also had planned to make a Cinduri peg doll, but alas, she did not get done either.  For our snakes, we painted an egg carton white and connected them with a pipe cleaner. We then added a tongue for the snake and glued the red "jewels" onto their heads.

2 comments:

  1. Love the snake craft! It's so interesting to see how the Cinderella story shows up all over the world. Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

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  2. What a lovely craft for this Cinderella story from India. I loved the history tie in as well. Thanks for linking up to Multicultural Children's Book Day!

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