Saturday, April 17, 2010

A date with Squirrells

Recently when I stayed with my cousins, every morning we used wake up  before sun rise and  sit out in their garden. There used to be a lot of visitors-butterflies, birds and Squirrels. I am fond of squirrels as it evokes in me my child hood memories of playing in the big backyard at my granny's place. There were at least four to six squirrels living on the trees. Well I am not exactly sure of the number.It used  to be very pleasant  early in the morning and these little fellas used to start chirping, climbing trees, searching for the  food.

Any way Here is one of the many little fellows. Its very difficult to catch them on camera, as they are so active and keep on darting here and there. By the time you focus and try to click. They are gone. But that day I was lucky. This little one so patiently posed for me and showed me all his antics.

Here you can see the structure built around a tree. This not only creates a seating space, but also prevents the tree from being uprooted if there are any storms or strong winds, which are quite common in coastal areas. They have decorated it with Rangoli using paint. This little one is eating something so peacefully.
Story of the Stripes:

Do you see the stripes on the back of the squirrel. Well there is a story associated with it. Lord Rama whose story is known as Ramayana, left his kingdom and went into exile for 14 years. During this period, his wife Sita was abducted by the Demon King Ravana was kept in Lanka (meaning Island). This Lanka now presently known as Srilanka was ruled by the Mighty Ravana,  He was very powerful and dreaded by all. He committed many attrocities, one among them, to kidnap and prison, beautiful women.

When Sita was abducted, Rama learned of it and after searching for her through his friend Sugriva's( a Monkey King)  army of monkeys, he came to know that Sita was in Lanka. In order to reach there and wage war with Ravana, he had to cross the sea. So, a massive stone bridge was built by the monkeys. ( army of King Sugriva) On each stone, Rama's name was chiseled and then thrown into the sea. Surprisingly, the stones  did not sink but float on the surface.

A squirrel, who watched all this was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. It felt so sad that being so small, it could not help him  either in building the bridge, or in any other way. But, after thinking for some time, it made a decision. It went into the sands on the banks of the sea, rolled in it, went on to the bridge being constructed and dropped all the sand collected on its body. It went on doing that.

One day Lord Rama came to check the bridge, which was finished by now. His sight fell on the little squirrel and watched what it was doing. Then he went to her and asked what she was doing.

The Squirrel felt so happy to find her Lord before her eyes. She bowed at his feet and said " O Rama, I am such a little creature. I love you so much but am not able to help you in any way. So I thought, if I cannot build this massive bridge, I can at least, make the surface of the bridge soft for your delicate feet to tread on. Rama was so touched by its service. He said that though you are small physically, your thoughts, your devotion and service you are doing for  me is so very great. So Rama took her into his hands and softly, caressed her all over. The squirrel lost her fatigue and became rejuvenated. Rama ran his three fingers  on  its back and as a remeberence of her service, he left the mark of his fingers, and said from today, you and your species will carry this which will  remind people of your great devotion and service.

So thats how she got her stripes. Even today people who are modest, or do some service or give alms say this is very little-or Udutha Bhakthi. Udutha in Telugu means Squirrel and Bhakthi means devotion. So she is remembered for her service.
Some more pictures ....
Up on a tree, watching me carefully...

Ohh I loved this Gooseberry tree laden with those golden green fruit. Goose berry is rich in Vitamin C and the berries have very good medicinal properties.
It was so peaceful in that little place, though hot and humid.  I miss my little friends....

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