No child has grown up at Thekkanattu Parayil without climbing on the back of these lions. And sitting there, a child’s imagination soars. You are the lord of all that you survey – the expanse of the white sand of the court yard, the garden, the mango and jackfruit trees, swaying coconut palms, the rice fields in the distance.
Then the spoilsports – adults - come along. You can hear the order before it is actually delivered: “Get down, you’ll fall.” (I don’t think that anyone has ever fallen off the lions.) Immediately a servant would appear near the lion and try to hold you but you resist. No child likes such restraints.
After the elder is gone you shout at the servant. He takes off his hands but stands by, alert. The ride goes on, till you notice a pair of mynahs, or a pigeon or kingfisher and jump off the lion to chase it, the servant in tow. Or you just get bored and play something else.
In each pair of these ‘dwarapalakas’, (door sentries) one is different from the other. Can you notice it from the photographs?
One lion has his eyes closed while the other is wide awake. Sometimes the question ‘why’ is asked. That happened last week as well. The usual answer is that the lions take turns at duty. But that leads to another question.
When will the sleeping lion wake up to take over the vigil?
No answers yet.