Of all the stories I have heard of the aboriginal culture the story about the rainbow serpent must be the most perplexing.
The rainbow serpent is a revered goddess. In fact the most important painting in the Ubirr art site is an imprint of the goddess on the rock face.
It is said that one night the goddess when passing through the land rested one night near a village. A wailing child kept her awake the whole night. The next day she went up to the village and swallowed them all.
When I read this story at first I found it really weird. I mean she was a goddess. Was she not supposed to be compassionate? I mean it was a child for god’s sake? Maybe the child was sick or hurt or just throwing a tantrum. Did she have to kill everybody because of a sleepless night?
Then came the lesson. Yes. She was in deed teaching the village a lesson. You see in aboriginal culture the family structure is very complicated ( the complexity demands a whole other post!). A child has multiple parents; not just the biological ones. His paternal/maternal uncle and aunt become is parents depending on the tribe and clan his parents belonged to.
And another important aspect of the aboriginal culture is that everybody is cared for. So a wailing child should be attended. The child had multiple parents and yet no one calmed him or her. And so what the rainbow serpent or rather the story really tells the aboriginal people is that ‘take care of your people’!
Killing everybody is a scary way to make a point ( to an outsider).
The highlight of my trip to NT was the sunrise and the sunset. I just could not get enough of it. The riot of colors across the sky, the transformation from night to day and day to night. It was splendid.
The aboriginal people believe that Walli the sun god lights a yellow torch every morning.
She smears makeup across her face. Make up of deep colors – ocher, pink, red, orange.
Then she picks up the torch and hold it high and travels the earth from east to the west.
She travels till she reaches the far end.
When she reaches the far end. She puts out her torch and rubs off the makeup on her face,
And then she takes an underground tunnel and travels all night till she reaches the east.
Once she reaches the east she lights her torch and smears her makeup all over again.
Sunrise. Sunset. Another beautiful day!
” No I am not going to any of the cities.” I replied to the invariable question that followed.
” So where in Australia are you going?”
“The Northern Territory!” and that was followed by a blank stare.
My husband and I decided that we would be going to Australia for our vacation this year. The place we decided, we would would think of later. I mean it’s not like it has more than Sydney and Melbourne and maybe Perth. There! We would deal with the minute details later.
The one thing that we forgot to factor in was that the minor details covered roughly a entire island/country/continent – whatever you want to call Australia.
We are still unsure as to how we settled on the Northern Territory but we sure are glad we did.
Stay tuned to the posts on the wonderful and the beautiful Northern Territory, Australia. Till then I leave you with some pictures.
Water lilies in bloom
A road train
A croc patrolling his territory