Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cinderella #48 Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Story from India (2002)

The Crown Prince danced with Cinduri all night. (Tang, Y.)

Once upon a time, in Eastern India, “ a girl named Cinduri walked slowly down the road.  Her feet dragged through the dust as she balanced a heavy pot on her head.  She was on her way to fetch drinking water for the family. “ When she got home with the water, her work would not be done.  She still had to “milk the cows, clean the house, prepare yogurt and cheese for tomorrow’s meal, and milk the cows again!” And then there was the garden to tend.  Her life had not always been this hard.  She sadly remembered last year when “an epidemic of cholera had swept through her village.  Within a few days her mother and father had died of the disease.”  Worse yet, this left Cinduri alone with his father’s other wife, and their daughter Lata. Neither had any love to show her.  As her tears began to flow, she heard a voice and “was startled by a showering burst of water right in front of her...a great white snake rose out of the lake.  Her eyes were blinded by the shine of a bright red jewel on his bobbing head.  He hissed a question, “ You are a beautiful young girl.  Why are you so dirty and dressed in rags?”  Cinduri spoke not a word against her stepmother, but told of the hard work she did.  In answer to her meals, she replied that she was given a small bowl of rice and some scraps each day.  “The snake was furious.  “Rice and a few handouts? That is not enough to eat!”  With a darting motion of his head, the serpent produced a golden plate.  On it there was  a beautiful display of East Indian foods.  The almond rice, lentils, flatbreads, curries, and sweet milk delights gave off tantalizing aromas.  Cinduri was hungry, but before taking the plate she pressed her hands together and bowed to show thanks to the snake. “  This was how Cinduri grew healthy and strong.  The snake became her godfather, and taught her to call for him with a chant: Godfather Snake, oh Godfather Snake, Godfather Snake of the Magic Lake, Come to my help, for your daughter’s sake!” Now, her stepmother grew suspicious.  Why wasn’t Cinduri starving and miserable any more, and where was she getting such cool, clear water?  It was time to investigate, so she sent Lata to spy on her.  Sure enough, Cinduri chanted, and the snake appeared.  If gave her food and filled her water jugs.  Lata told her mother that the snake was a terrible, monstrous creature.  On the way home, Cinduri overheard some exciting news: the Crown Prince was coming to their village to celebrate the 9 Days of the Navaratri Festival! Her stepmother sneered that in any case, Cinduri would not be attending the festival.  Then, to Cinduri’s horror, she took out a silver anklet that had belonged to her own mother, and placed it around Lata’s ankle.  Her stepmother ordered her back to work.  Late that night, when she had finally finished her chores, Cinduri ran to the lake and chanted for Godfather Snake.  Up he came, and when he hear her sorrows, he said, “ My beautiful little goddaughter, you deserve one magical evening....See this beautiful jewel in my forehead?  Take it!’ he commanded.  She obeyed him, even though the jewel felt hot to her touch.  ‘Don’t drop it,’ he warned.  Now turn round and round, like this.’ She watched the snake twist his body in a circle, and she copied his movements.  As she slowly twirled, she felt herself being wrapped in cloth of the purest gold threads.  Magnificent jewels appeared in her hair...she saw two of the most beautiful anklets she had ever seen, decorated with tiny bells and covered with diamonds that sparkled in the moonlight.  ‘Go to the festival, but at midnight, when they light the candle, you must return home.  The magic will be over ”  warned the snake.  At the festival, the music hushed when Cinduri walked in.  The Crown Prince had eyes only for her, and together, they danced all night.  Suddenly, a candle was lit, and the prince told her it was time for the aarti, a ceremony.  The girl “dashed away through the crowd. The prince tried to follow the sound of the bells on her feet...then he caught sight of something sparkling on the road...he realized it was one of her anklets!” The next day he informed his father of his decision to marry the girl who could wear it. “The King called forth messengers.  He told them to go to every village.  He proclaimed, ‘...The girl who can fit her foot through it will become the bride of the Crown Prince. “ When they arrived stepmother was in a tizzy.  She kept Cinduri busy with chores to keep her out of the way.  Or so she thought! Cinduri still had the jewel from Godfather snake, and when she touched it now, “she saw miraculous changes all around her.  The house was clean, the butter was churned, the weeds in the garden had disappeared, and fresh water and straw appeared in all the animals pens.”  Even her dress was clean! She ran towards the pavilion for a chance to try on the anklet. When she got there, Lata was making “terrible faces, trying to twist her foot into the anklet, but it was not use.”  Just as the Crown Prince was about to leave, Cinduri rushed up.  He saw her, and told his father, “One more!’  He slipped her foot into the jeweled circle.  There was a gasp from the crowd as Cinduri pulled from her pocket the matching anklet she had kept hidden away...Now, wearing both anklets, she made a slow, twirling motion as her snake Godfather had taught her. When she finished her turn, she was dressed in the...sari and jewelry she had worn onf Festival Night.  With a sparkle in his eyes that made Cinduri’s heart beat widldy, the prince proclaimed, ‘This beautiful princess must be my bride!”  After the wedding, the Prince “ordered that a large pond be built in the gardens of their new palace so that Godfather Snake could come to live near them and continue to bless their lives.”  Now that Cinduri was not around to work the fields and tend the animals, the stepmother and Lata had to to this work. But they did such a poor job that the animals ran away and the garden died.  The stepmother and her daughter became beggars.  Godfather Snake blessed the couple, and told them they “would live for many thousands of happy days.”
Notes: This is a retelling of an ancient tale from Eastern India. The book is gorgeous, the colors bright and enticing! The images of Godfather, the Cobra Snake will draw children into the text.  It is interesting to find that here, the girl is helped by a male snake, as she was in Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters.  If you think about it, the only difference between a ring and an anklet is size.  According to Jung and von Franz, the ring carries profound significance.  As it is a circle, it carries temenos, "a sacred space set apart either by circumnambulation or by drawing a circle...in Greece, a temenos was a place where people could not be killed...[it] is an asylum and within it, one is asulos (inviolable) ".  (The Interpretation of Fairy Tales, p.82).  A strong protection for an abandoned girl. 
Montessori Connection 6-12: Zoology/Reptiles/Snakes of India/Reptilia/Squamata Serpentes (Ophidia)
1. Read Anklet for a Princes.
2.  Look carefully at Godfather Snake.  
3. Use a piece of tracing paper and trace over Godfather Snake. 
4. Identify him using an encyclopedia of animals, such as Macmillan Animal Encyclopedia for Children, orReference 5+: Children's Animal Encyclopedia, or The Oxford Children's Encyclopedia of Plants and Animals
5. Find at least two more kinds.  One should be venomous, such as the cobra.
6. Learn the difference between  vipers and and elapids. 

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