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Mythological Creature; the Apsara, a Hindu and Buddhist fairy of the clouds, with writing prompt

Fairies, angels, sprites and pixies have long been written about in myth and folklore. They come to our realm and indulge in all of the human vices that seem to contradict the very essence of who we think they are. In the children’s book series Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, there’s a fairy who lives in Ho Chi Mihn City and has been drunk for hundreds of years. In the story, she will only be persuaded to give young Artemis information about ‘the book’ in exchange for booze. By the end of their exchange, Artemis has given the ancient being an elixir to detox her. This fairy could easily be an Apsara, though he doesn’t say so. According to Indianetzone, Apsaras in Indian Mythology were the court dancers of the king of Gods, and of thunder, Lord Indra. It is Lord Indra, who directs the Apsaras to seduce mortals, kings and sages, who became powerful enough to threaten the mighty Indra. Apsaras are said to be celestial maidens of exquisite beauty and alluring charm and artistically blessed with the power of dancing and singing. They are also said to be shapeshifters.

Origin of Apsaras
Sage Kashyapa, had many wives. He is considered the father of many celestial races. The demi-gods are born from his wife Aditi and demons come from his other wife Diti. In other ancient legends, it is said that the Apsaras came out of the churning of the sea and are sometimes considered sirens.

Photo Credit; Gandharvas https://tinyurl.com/y6akgt6e

According to Wikipedia, in Hinduism, the Gandharvas are male nature spirits, husbands of the Apsaras. Some are part animal, usually a bird or horse. They have superb musical skills. They guard the Soma and make beautiful music for the gods in their palaces. In Vedic tradition, soma is a ritual drink of importance among the early Indians. Gandharvas are frequently depicted as singers in the court of the gods. Gandharvas act as messengers between the gods and humans. In Hindu law, a gandharva marriage is one contracted by mutual consent and without formal rituals.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the asparas, originally water nymphs, provided sensual pleasure for both gods and men. They have been beautifully depicted in sculpture and painting in India and throughout areas of South and Southeast Asia influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism. Notable examples are the 5th–6th-century frescoes at Ajanta in India and at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka and the sculptures and bas-reliefs decorating the temples of Angkor, Cambodia.

Wikipedia states there are two types of apsaras; laukika (worldly), of whom thirty-four are specified, and daivika (divine), of which there are ten. Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha, Tilottama and Ghritachi are the most famous among them.

English translations of the word “apsara” include “nymph“, “fairy“, “celestial nymph”, and “celestial maiden”.

As ethereal beings who inhabit the skies, and are often depicted as taking flight, or at service of a god. They may be compared to angels.

Photo Credit: Dancers – https://tinyurl.com/y3jty7wa

Apsaras are said to be able to change their shape at will, and rule over the fortunes of gaming and gambling. Apsaras are sometimes compared to the muses of ancient Greece, with each of the 26 Apsaras at Indra’s court representing a distinct and differing aspect of the performing arts. They are also associated with fertility rites.

Writing Prompt

The thing that sticks out to me about the Apsaras is that they apparently were around during the primordial age with the god Indra. According to hindutsav.com Indra is the God of thunder, lightning, storms, rains, and river flows. Lord Indra is also the God of War, the greatest of all warriors, and the strongest of all beings. Indra is like Zeus as far as his mighty power goes.

The apsara were important beings since they were in his company and are considered to be like angels – OK, so this is very interesting….

For the writing prompt I would like to play around with the idea that an Apsara comes to earth like John Travolta’s 1996 movie ‘Micheal.’

According to IMDB here is the movie synopsis- Frank Quinlan and Huey Driscoll, two reporters from a Chicago-based tabloid, along with Dorothy Winters, an ‘angel expert’, are asked to travel to rural Iowa to investigate a claim from an old woman that claims she shares her house with a real, life archangel named Michael.

Upon arrival, they see that her claims are true – but Michael is not what they expected: he smokes, drinks beer, has a very active libido and has a rather colourful vocabulary. In fact, they would never believe he was an arch angel, were it not for the two feathery wings protruding from his back. Michael agrees to travel to Chicago with the threesome, but what they don’t realise is that the journey they are about to undertake will change their lives forever.

Our writing prompt is similar, but it is an Apsara woman who takes center stage. What does she look like. Does she have a family? This woman is surprisingly an angel. She drinks and smokes. I would like to offer that she is from Cambodia and like John Travolta’s character, the only thing angelic about her are the two feathery wings that protrude from her back.

You encounter her one night in an alley. She has been beaten up badly and you stop to help her. She tells you that she needs to go to New York city to see her brother. He is dying and needs her help. You take her, but what happens along the way…the healings, the insights, the visions. There are transformations of almost everyone and everything she encounters…including you and it’s more than you bargained for. What happens??

If you find this article fun and interesting and you decide to expand on this story-let me know how this story continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

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