Monday, October 17, 2005

The Tale of Panchvan

Panchvan is a part of the eastern hills. When the monsoon blesses the dense forests, Panchvan assumes an inexplicable allure. Long back, when one such monsoon rained heavily and sunk the low laying plains, the people who stayed there lost their beloveds. Those who remained prayed to the God to stop the rains and grant them a safer place. The God was not satisfied with the entreaties. Kuttuvan, the brave son of the village chieftain, did a holy sacrifice to please the God and save his village. On the altar, in front of the angry flames, he cut his little finger off. Blood oozed out from the wound and he offered it to the God. When the last drop of blood trickled down from his body, the God was pleased. The monsoon ended all of a sudden. And Kuttuvan’s body fell on the altar motionless. His body was buried near the village. The next day a knoll was seen at his grave. In a few days it grew to a massive hill. The villagers shifted to that hill. And they were permanently saved from the floods. Kuttuvan’s tomb rose with the hill and remained at its summit. The villagers made a small shrine above it and since then they have been worshiping him as their God.

Seasons passed. The low laying plains were occupied by people from the north. They converted it into an industrial city. Factories mushroomed and started spitting out smoke. A new culture evolved there. But Panchvan remained as serene as it was before; the populace of Panchvan as peaceful as they were before. And the people of the city called them aborigines.

The government sanctioned a paper plant in the city. They said that it will bring employment to thousands of jobless people in the city and the nearby areas. Someone said that the main reason behind the plant was the dense forests of Panchvan and the trees which grew there which would serve as the raw material to the plant. Meteorologists opined that the demolition of the forest may bring in floods to the city during monsoon because it’s the forest that prevented water from coming down to the city. But unemployment was the main concern, always, even to an employed man.

Huge butcher-vehicles assaulted the forest. The deep dense forests slowly started showing their dry roots. The tribe of Panchvan was forced to migrate to a new place. Some of them couldn’t adjust with the new environment and died out. For the rest, there was no Kuttuvan to save them again. The shrine at the hill top was demolished. The entire forest was slashed off in three years. And it was time for the next monsoon.

The meteorologists were proved wrong. It didn’t flood that year. It didn’t rain either!

PS: Thulasi has pointed out the commendable effort by this visionary named Abdul Kareem from Nileshwaram, Kasargod, who converted 36 acres of barren land in to a lush green forest. Hats off to Abdul Kareem and hope you will read that small write-up on him.