Monday, February 6, 2012

IMPRINTS OF GOD


A slender, fragile yet fascinating and beautiful creature! Its wing-span is no more than 4 inches and it weighs less than one-fifth of a pound. How it came to be called the Monarch, I shall leave it to your imagination. But the butterfly has dazzled humans for millennia. The monarch butterflies exist in several parts of the world, but God has been cruel enough to put some of them in Northern parts of America and Canada where even humans almost freeze to death in winters. Well, trees don’t come with room heaters and the market is not yet there for butterfly sweaters or jackets. So a certain death awaits these poor souls come winter. What do they do? They set off on a remarkable transcontinental odyssey that spans 2000 miles over 2 months and culminates in the safe warmth of the mountains of Mexico. And the journey back home is even more mind-blowing as it transcends 3 generations. A year long epic journey indeed that would put Columbus and Sindbad in perspective! 

The monarch migration is one of the most profound mysteries in the natural world. No one knows what exactly triggers the exodus of these newly hatched butterflies from Canada. They have never seen a winter before to know one is coming. I am pretty sure that they haven’t looked up the best travel destinations in the internet to zero in on a small town in Mexico. But yet on one late August morning, a tiny butterfly triggered by a calling of its forefathers coded perhaps in its genomes, sets off on a journey to an unknown land. Alone! Soon there are millions of them! A butterfly’s physiology is worst suited for a long migration. Yet, it travels about 50 miles a day across plains, deserts, oceans and mountains; escaping from, succumbing to and surviving rain storms, lurking enemies, scorching desert sun and tricky winds. A feat of endurance and navigation unlike anything else!

The butterflies don’t own a GPS. They can neither call their friends for directions nor can they read a map. So how exactly do they navigate their way across a continent to end up in the exact same place every year is probably the biggest mystery of all. They may be following the sun; the earth’s magnetic field perhaps provides an orientation guide or they may have special brain cells that are genetically coded to regulate their internal clock and keep them on course. Whatever their secret may be, they cross every geographic hurdle that nature dishes out in one treacherous journey with extreme panache. They fly with imagination!

A butterfly starts its journey alone but it starts bonding with its fellows on the way. As they near Mexico, they gather into huge flocks for the final leg of the journey. In a tiny Mexican village at the foothills of towering mountains, the Mazahua people wait endearingly for the Monarchs to come home. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors return in the form of these butterflies. First week of November, the butterflies arrive. I can only imagine what rapture a child would feel when she sees millions of butterflies fly into the town painting it in a reddish brown tinge. I have played the scene in my head over and over and I would give anything to be that child.

These butterflies inhabit the forests near this tiny Mexican town for about 5 months. The city rejoices. Exhausted by their monumental journey, they rest, huddled together in the warmth of the huge trees. When spring arrives, they bloom again opening their wings to the sun. They bid good bye to their hosts and begin their journey back. They travel to Texas where they make a pit stop and mate. The parents die but the next generation keeps flying north, repeating the stop, mate and die routine. A full year after they started their journey, a fourth generation of butterflies is born in homeland Canada. This generation is special because these butterflies are the chosen ones to retrace the paths of their ancestors and a wonderful planetary cycle beings again!

A spectacular natural phenomenon, this migration is an unparalleled marvel. Philosophically too, it has several underpinnings that can be inferred and interpreted in different ways. But every time I think about this incredible quest of the butterfly, I feel the hands of God. I see an artist at work! I see his Monalisa. And it staggers my mind that he has left his fingerprints in several subtle ways we don’t even realize!

Wanna know more:


50 comments:

  1. "...I would give anything to be that child." Me too!
    truly amazing their journey,their life,this post

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    1. Yeah Sujatha.. they are wonderful creatures really. Very fascinating and after learning about this trait of theirs, I would say they are very gritty as well. :)

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  2. Informative and amazing too.. The journey of Butterfly is truely Incredible.. But I wonder from where did u research about all these stuffs and wrote this piece of post:)

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    1. Yeah.. a truly fascinating natural wonder this is. There is a lot of stuff about this phenomenon out there. There are a few documentaries so beautifully shot around these creatures as well. :) And it was really wonderful watching and reading up about butterflies. :)

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  3. Butterfly, indeed, is such a beautiful creature of the world which amuses all of us with its vibrant colours. And it looks like you have put your immense efforts to do the reasearch on butterflies and present it to us to amaze us with its story. I love butterflies and your post is very informative.

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    1. yeah... the colorful butterflies add color to our lives and thoughts. :) Am glad you liked the article. Yeah.. there is a lot of good information about these creatures and their amazing journey. :)

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  4. Oh my this is absolutely marvelous. I have always loved butterflies and when I was younger would 'catch' them on family trips- It was amazing to hear the story of their journey and how it is retraced -- as you said, so many parallels which can be seen- so many things to think about!!!

    AMAZING POST!!

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    1. Thank you so much Connie. Yeah.. butterflies are fascinating creatures. I was floored when I read about this miraculous journey of theirs. :)

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  5. WOW...God has created such wonderful creatures that we are spellbound by it. Another miracle of nature or of God. You narrated it so beautifully Raj...:)

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    1. Thank you so much Saru. Glad you liked it. :) Butterflies are mesmerizing creatures. I have always been fascinated by them and now I am even more dazzled.

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  6. The original nomads of the insect world, for theirs is not just migration but constant travelling. wonderful post. And the natives thankfully worship these migrants, lest they would be on the endangered list too. thank god for nature worshippers. Lovely write up.

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    1. Well said.. original nomads of the insect world. :) They are great travelers. I completely agree. yeah.. the natives love the butterflies. But the forests are slowly disappearing, putting the butterflies and the migration at risk. I really hope things always stay the same for the butterflies.

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  7. I've always loved butterflies. When I was small, I used to run behind them, trying to get hold of them. But I never could :)
    It was a lovely post.. We humans need a GPS system. Birds and butterflies just follow the beauty of nature :)

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    1. Thank you so much Juhi. Yeah.. butterflies fascinate me too. Beautifully said. "Butterflies and birds follow the beauty of nature!"

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  8. i have a surprise for you please visit my blog post titled blogger award liebster:) at http://alkanarula.blogspot.com
    deep from my heart

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    1. Thank you so much Alka. That was a wonderful surprise. I feel really honored to receive the award. Thanks once again. :)

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  9. Replies
    1. Thank you so much. :) Am very happy that you liked it. I really love your photographs. They are so fascinating.

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  10. Amazing and really informative.

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    1. Thank you so much Seema. Am so glad you liked it. I am a fan of your art works. :)

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    1. A very warm welcome to you Kavita. Thank you so much. Am so glad you liked it. :)

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  12. Wonderful post on the wonderful creature with wonderful words !
    KUDOS RAJ

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment Deepak. Made my day! :)

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  13. Thanks for the info..I have always been fascinated by butterflies and this account has been heartwarming!!

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    1. Thank you so much. Am very glad you liked it. Yup.. butterflies are breathtaking creatures for sure. :)

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  14. Reading your description and seeing the pics made me light as a butterfly. Lovely post

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    1. A very warm welcome to you here. That was a wonderful comment. "Made me light as a butterfly" - Beautifully said. Thank you so much. Glad you liked the post. :)

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  15. awesome loved it and never knew about it ...beautiful :)

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    1. Thank you so much Anubha. Am very happy you liked it. Yeah.. isn't it a wonderful natural phenomenon. I was immediately floored by these butterflies. :)

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  16. An amazing post describing an amazing journey. This is new information for me, thank you Raj for sharing it. I am really fascinated to know more about it. Will check out the links you have posted. As you said the God's hand truly is at work. :)

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    1. Thank you so much Akshay. Am glad you found it interesting. Yeah.. they are God's favorite children - these butterflies. We are gifted to have them by our sides. :)

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  17. "I have played the scene in my head over and over and I would give anything to be that child."

    Simply got me wishing the same... Always lovvved butterflies, n to watch so many flutter above/around u wud be no less than a fairytale... Very informative! Cheers.. :)

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    1. A very warm welcome to you Pranita. Thank you so much and I am glad you found this interesting. Yeah.. butterflies are mesmerizing and to see so many of them flutter over you is certainly no less than a fairy tale. I hope to visit this place someday to see them! :)

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  18. thanx to writers like u, we get to learn so much. it was one engrossing read; brilliantly narrated.

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    1. Thank you so much Deb for the lovely comment. Am so glad you found it an engrossing read. :)

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  19. Replies
    1. Yes indeed Keerthana. It must be a spectacle which I wish to experience and immerse myself in someday. :)

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  20. That was some information I was totally unaware of. Thank you for narrating it so well :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Ashwini for your nice words. Am so happy you liked it. Yeah.. even I didnt know much about their migration. But I was thrilled when I read about it. :)

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  21. thanx raj for this fascinating ino...its difficult to imagine---such delicate wings & 50 miles a day
    does it not suggest that GOD is the greatest scientist afterall.

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    1. A very warm welcome to you Indu. Thank you for your lovely comment and I am so happy you liked the post. "God is the greatest scientist" - Beautiful line. :)

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  22. This is an informative and interesting post. Loved it... Everybody thinks that butterflies are delicate; this proves otherwise... Thanks for sharing this with us...

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    1. Thank you so much Nisha. Am so glad you liked the post. Yeah.. so true. They are slender and delicate but so strong and resolute at the same time. :)

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  23. awesome post, wish it would have never ended !!!

    regards
    rahul

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    1. That was such a lovely comment Rahul. Thank you so much. You made my day! :)

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  24. Wow that's beautiful, The journey just as much enigmatic as is it exhaustive, yet they provide a visual treat and your worlds drew a picture that was no less colorful

    I must go see this one day, That was great, truly informative,

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    1. A very warm welcome to you Rupertt. Thank you so much for the wonderful comment and very glad you found it very informative. :) Yeah.. they are such a treat to watch and I plan to go see them one day too. :)

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  25. This is such a gorgeous post! :) I have also been a keen admirer of the butterflies.It really fills the soul to see the creations of God ,the butterflies in particular!! :) And you've written about them so beautifully.I can just see the beautiful journey right through their eyes as you describe every detail amazingly.Just WOW! :)Love your pics too :)

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    1. A very warm welcome to you here Jen. :) I am soo glad you liked the post. Beautiful creations really, the butterflies, they bring a lot of happiness to our hearts. :) Thank you so much for your lovely compliments. :)

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