about Sita In The Forest
The deer in this picture is modelled upon two Indian deer, the barasingha, or swamp deer, and the chital, or axis deer.
The barasingha, one of the world's rarest deer, has antlers covered in real velvet, which are much prized by hunters as a trophy. The more common chital is easily recognised by its spotted coat.
Deer are found all over the world nowadays but originated in Europe, Asia and North America. They are all related to cattle.
Mammals that have hooves are called ungulates. Ungulates are sub-divided into odd-toes species, like horses, zebras and rhinoceroses and even-toes ungulates such as antelopes, camels and deer. Even-toes animals have symmetrical feet that carry the weight on the two central toes, usually called the cloven hoof.
Deer, like most even-toed ungulates are ruminants. They have four stomachs to digest their food and chew the cud. That means they regurgitate part digested food from their first stomach, and when it is in their mouth, re-chew it.
Deer's antlers, unlike antelopes' permanent horns, are shed each year to be re-grown slightly larger in the next season. The antlers are bony growths covered in skin (velvet), and are usually branched. At the end of each season when the antlers are fully grown and ready to shed, the velvet dies off and much of it is rubbed away. Antlers are not only used as protection but are used in display fights during the rut (mating season). These fights establish the herd's leading male.
Note on the Hindu Faith: Conduct Not Belief
Most important in the life of any Hindu is that they should live their beliefs. Following a creed is not enough, for one is judged on one's actions.
A shining example of devoting oneself to the idea of 'right action' was Vinoba Bhave (1895 - 1982).
Bhave left school with the aim of devoting his life to the poor of his nation, India. Starting as a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, he spent his early life improving the conditions of poor villagers, raising money to provide them with schools, training programmes and other means of self-help.
In 1951 he devised and led a crusade for the landless labourers in Indian villages, called 'Bhoodan Yajna' (land-gift). Bhave walked across the length and breadth of India persuading the rich to give gifts of their land to the poor. The rich would win religious favour for their gifts, living the Hindu creed of selflessness. The movement was so successful that millions of acres of land were transferred to the poor.