Scientific Name: Funambulus palmarum
Common Name: Three-striped Palm Squirrel, Ghilahari (Hindi), Anil (Tamil), Kalandakaha (Sanskrit)
Distribution: Throughout India
In Religion and Mythology
Lord Rama caressing the squirrel
Squirrels are considered sacred in India and are not to be harmed. They are even fed by many Hindu families. This is mainly because of their association with Lord Rama.
An interesting legend explains the stripes on the back of most of the squirrels. During the construction of the Adi sethu (bridge) at Rameswaram by Lord Rama and the vanara sena , a little squirrel also contributed in its own little way. It rolled in the beach sand and then ran to the end of the sethu to shake off the sand from its back (chanting Lord Rama’s name all along).
Lord Rama, pleased by the creature’s dedication, caressed the squirrel’s back and ever since, the Indian squirrel carried white stripes on its back, which are believed to be the mark of Lord Rama’s fingers.