The World Turtle Day is observed every year on May 23rdto raise awareness on turtles and their protection.
On this day, many animal lovers and organizations come together and organize events around turtles.
Caring for Turtles
In as much as, turtles might not be favourites of people, like dogs, it is vitally important that we care for this species, one of world’s oldest creatures of this planet.
There have been many legends associated withTurtles and Tortoises across many ancient civilizations.
The Indian tortoise legend is indeed interesting.
In the sequence of Dasavatara, the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, Kurma Avatara, the Tortoise incarnation, is the second Avatara, incarnation of the Divinity Vishnu.The first in the 10 incarnations was Matsya, the Fish, which can live only in water. The second is Kurma, tortoise is an amphibian which evolved from living on water, to living on land.
Kurma Avatar – Legend in India
As per this legend, Vishnu takes the form of a tortoise and supports the mountain on His back during the churning of the oceans, Samudra Manthan by the Deva and Asura.
Samudra Manthan at the time of Kurma Avatar
Tortoise and Techtonic plates
Indian geological texts also describe the earth as being supported by 8 tortoises.
Here, the analogy of the tortoise stands for the 8 solid tectonic plates on the earth’s crust, over the molten core of the earth, which are constantly moving but very slowly, just like a tortoise and its hard shell which covers the soft animal inside.
Symbolic depiction of Indian Turtle Legend
The architectural representation of this turtle legend can be seen in the old archaeological sites of central Java in Indonesia and the adjoining Bali islands too.
Tortoise sculptures in Central Java, Temple Sukoh
There is a similar turtle legend that is explicitlyexpressed in the ancient American legends too, where a turtle dives to the bottom of the ocean to bring back mud to create the earth.
Let us revere Turtles
Thus, we see that tortoises, turtles have been revered across civilizations from time immemorial.
This Turtle’s day, let us take steps to protect this endangered species that we have revered across times, across civilizations.