Pride of Lions

Published: 03rd October 2015 05:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2015 05:17 AM   |  A+A-

There are less than 22,000 lions in this world and yet, they evoke more awe than Vladimir Putin or Barack Obama. I learnt why when I discovered that the wild cats sleep up to 20 hours a day. And sometimes when they have a big meal, the resting might stretch to 24 slumberous hours. How royal is that.

Another fact to put things in perspective: it seems the lion’s roar is audible from a distance of 8 km. With such a booming voice, it’s understandable why nearly 13 countries have opted for this majestic being as their National Animal.

PRIDE.JPGSurprisingly though, there are only 523 lions in India. Despite this, the Panthera leo persica has had a disproportionate influence on our culture.

For centuries, Rajputs proclaimed their manliness with the ‘Singh’ surname—which, as you know, is derived from the Sanskrit word for lion. From 1699, many generations of adorable sardarjis have made it their last name. So we would have had no Khushwant Singh, Sushant Singh Rajput, Shatrughan Sinha or Ashok Singhal, if not for the lord of the jungle. Even Bollywood action flick Singham flows from the Tamil word for ‘lion’.

The entire Sinhalese race trace their lineage to Prince Vijaya, who’s supposed to have landed on the island with a lion flag in his hand. Likewise, Singapore or Simhapura (Lion City) owes its origins to the sighting of a sea monster (half fish-half lion) by the King of Malays, when he dropped anchor there.

The Turkic-Arabs were also in total thrall to the beast. The names Abbas, Asad, Babar, Haider and Osama are all one-word odes to the lion. The Europeans were as fascinated. The Leonardo in Leonardo da Vinci means ‘strong as a lion’. The French Napoleon was inspired by Italian Saint Napoleone, which in turn, literally means ‘Lion of Naples’.  By the way, Sunny Leone has ‘Lion’ written all over. Now you know why she’s a man eater.

Leander, Ariel, Xerxes and Lionel are some other names that remind you of the mane. Marketing mavens who know a thing or two about milking powerful symbols have often appropriated the lion by making it their logo.

Movie studio MGM, Swedish car Saab, advertising award show Cannes Lions, the soccer extravaganza Premier League, French automobile giant Peugeot and our local Lion Dates Syrup—they all ride on the lion’s back and have raked in the big bucks. Still wondering if it’s worth entering the den?

Stay up to date on all the latest Hyderabad news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp