Folk Tales of Gujarat (and Jhaverchand Meghani)

by Vandana P. Soni | 2014 | 98,532 words

This study represents an English translation of the Gujarat Folk tales composed by Gujarati poet Jhaverchand Meghani (1896-1947). Meghani was born in Chotila and left an important landmark on the history of Saurashtra and Gujarat folklore, Indian poetry, journalism and other literary sciences....

Chapter 12 - Shravaniya Somvar

[On each Monday of Shravan month women gather to observe ritual vow either on the bank of river or under the shelter of a peepal tree. They keep fist full rice in their hands. One lady tells the story very dramatically where as other women respond her by uttering the word ‘Mahadevji‘at the end of her every sentence. When the story gets over they offer the rice to sparrows. They take only one meal during a day. There are four different tales of four Mondays.]

There were God and Parvati.

God said, ‘I would go to do meditation in the forest.’ Parvati replied, ‘I too would come with you.’ ‘Oh Parvatiji; why are you so stubborn? In a forest you may get exhausted, you may feel thirsty; your difficulties may disturb my meditation.’

‘Whether you carry me along with you or not, I will accompany you at any cost!’ Parvatiji was adamant enough to go with Mahadevji. They walked a lot. They passed from one village to another while walking they reached at one dense forest. There Parvati said ‘Maharaj, I am thirsty. Now I cannot walk.’

Shankar replied, ‘See! Haven’ t I warned you? Now, how can I bring water here?‘

Parvatiji: ‘Whether it is available or not, you will have to bring it.’

Mahadevji climbed the tree. After climbing the tree he looked at every direction. He saw crows were flying very far. He saw from far one oais in which water was shining.

‘Go Parvati, oasis is seen ahead, go there and drink only three handful sips. Do not drink for the fourth time. If you will drink then you will repent forever.’

Parvatiji went near oasis. It was full with pearly white water. She drank one sip of water. She drank for the second and the third time. Her thirst was not quenched; she was uncomfortable, so she took handful of water to drink for the fourth time. As Parvati took out handful water for the fourth time; then a packet of kumkum and sacred thread got inter wined around her fingers.

Parvatiji marveled. Parvatiji tried to remove threads from fingers but efforts were proved in vain. Ultimately she went to Shankar ‘See Parvatiji, I had already warned you not to drink for the fourth time’

‘Oh Swaminath, I am sorry. Now, what shall I do to get rid of these threads?’

‘Now to get rid from these threads, it is necessary to observe a ritual vow. Let’ s go to nearby village.‘

Ishwar and Parvatiji started and they reached at one village. Shankar said, ‘Parvatiji, I am sitting at the premises of the village. You go inside the village and give threads to all.’

‘Master, how shall I give threads?’

Shankar taught Parvatiji the method of giving threads. ‘Take threads! Take threads of Mahadevji!’ Shouting like this Sati reached at one village. At the edge of the village there was a potter’s area. Nearby there was a house of one potter. At the threshold of a door a potter woman was sitting. The potter woman asked, ‘Lady, what are these threads?

What happens if we take these threads?’ ‘These are Mahadevji’ s threads. On taking these threads: the poor may get money, childless may get child, all good wishes comes true; and everything may happen good by the grace of Mahadevji.‘

‘No sister, I don’ t want threads. I have everything. Go to opposite house. There lives my co-wife. She performs black magic. She will take your threads.‘

Parvatiji went to the opposite house by shouting again, ‘Take threads! Take threads of Mahadevji!’ There unfavourable wife of a potter was sitting. She asked ‘Lady what type of threads you are giving? What happens if we take such threads?’

‘These are the threads of Mahadevji. On taking, these threads the poor may get money, childless may get child, and all good wishes may come true; everything goes well. Religious vows are observed with threads.’

Potter woman asks, ‘Lady tell me the procedure of observing a religious vow.’

‘In the month of Shravan, during the bright half of a month this religious vow is observed. Observe it only on four Mondays. On each Monday, make a one knot in a thread. Tell or listen the tale without eating anything. If you do not tell the tale or hear the tale then on that day your fast is not counted.’

‘Lady, please tell about this religious vow and tell how to celebrate this ritual vow when it gets over.’

‘In the month of kartak” during the bright half part of a month this religious vow is celebrated. Take pound ghee, a pound jiggery and make a four ladoos weighing six pounds. Offer one ladoo to Mahadevji.’

The lady took the threads. She started observing rituals. Consequently her husband who overlooked her started visiting her and also started to take care of her. She became an expectant mother. At the end of the nine months she delivered a cute baby boy. Her son grew up day by day.

The day of fulfillment of religious vow was over and it was the time of celebration.

Mother told her son ‘Go to the place where your father is sitting on a bench. Ask him to purchase jiggery and ghee and give it to you.’ Father purchases ghee and jiggery and gives it to the son. The lady prepares ladoos. By giving one ladoo to her son the lady asked her son ‘Go, and offer this ladoo to Mhadevji.’

Son went to the temple to offer ladoo to god. Standing at the altar of the temple the boy shouted ‘Mahadevji take your ladoo, Mahadevji take your ladoo!’

The priest laughed and said, ‘Foolish! Does Mahadevji ever take ladoo from anybody’ s hand? All devotees put offerings in this big plate: you too offer in the same.‘

‘No, No, I will give ladoo to only Mahadevji if he will directly take from my hand. Otherwise I will take ladoo back.’

Soon Mahadevji took the ladoo by extending his hand. The priest was surprised. ‘Oh, oh, we got tired by worshipping Mahadevji but he never gave glimpses to us. On the other hand he took a ladoo from the hand of a potter‗s son!’

Son went back. Step mother who was sitting in the opposite house called the boy. By taking the boy inside her house she trampled him and buried him into kiln and put his body on fire.

Mother waited for her son with a hope that he will come soon but son did not return. As the village was small she made thorough search. She searched her son everywhere even in the well, river and on the plain at the extremity of a village. She did not find her son.

‘Ok! The one who has given life might have taken him back. I had no child earlier!’ After saying so, she deeply sighed. She lied down by making the thresh hold of a door as a pillow. Soon a hungry and thirsty woman fell asleep. Mahadevji appeared in her dream.

‘Lady, are you awake or asleep?’

‘Oh Mahadevji, how can I sleep soundly? You have snatched my son.’

Mahadevji said, ‘I do not give a son to all and if I bless anyone with a son then I never take back. Go, your step has hidden him in kiln.’

Soon eyes of a lady opened and soon she woke up.

‘Oh, what a wonderful miracle is! No, No, it must be a hallucination of this painful and unfortunate soul.’

Once again she fell asleep. Once again Mahadevji came in a dream and asked lady, ‘are you awake or asleep?’

‘Mahadevji how can I get sound sleep as you have taken back my son?’

‘I do not give son. If I give then I never take him back.’ Your son has been kept by your co-wife in a kiln. Your son is sitting alive in a burning kiln. Go fast and inform about this to the king of the village.‘

‘What is the proof regarding the validity of this information?’

‘On getting up you will see a toothed tool on the roof of your house. The handle would be made of gold and tooth would be made of silver. In the compound, you will find tulsi plant. A cow will be bellowing. In the middle of the house, there will be swastik of kumkum. All these signs will give you the proof that Mhadev had arrived.’

On getting up the lady found toothed tool made of gold and silver lying on the top of the house. She saw a tulsi plant in the compound. She also beheld a bellowing cow. She saw a swastik at the middle of the house. She told about this event to her husband. They complained to the king. The king went to the kiln of a step along with the lady. The king said ‘Lady, let me investigate your kiln.’

‘My kiln cost of kiln is quarter to one lakh. How shall I allow you to investigate my kiln?’

The king took out a ring of real diamond from his finger. The king gave a ring to the woman, and he told, ‘take this ring which is costlier even than the price of your kiln’.

The king started investigating kiln. On the other side step also started investigating kiln. Utensils touched by step miraculously got transformed into mud and trash whereas utensils touched by the king turned into brass and copper. Finally the four pots were left to investigate.

When pots were opened then they found the son of potter who by sitting inside it was eating ladoos. The lady was overwhelmed with joy and she took her child in her arms and gave a big hug. Soon her son started feeding her.

Mother asked her son, ‘Dear, where were you?’

‘Mother, I was eating ladoo by sitting in the lap of Mahadevji.’

Mother became extremely happy and her eyes brimmed over with the tears of joy.

The king ordered to cut off hair and nose of co-wife. He made her sit on a donkey, carried out her skimmington and drove her out of the village.

On reaching the palace the king asked his queens, ‘Oh, queens, what religious vow you all could perform? ―Far better than you the actual religious vow is performed by the potter woman; due to the grace of her religious vow her son came alive out of a burning kiln.’

Queens said, ‘Let’ s go to bestow the lady.‘

Queens went to felicitate the lady in an accompaniment of a musical band. They took plates full of real pearls in their hand to felicitate the potter woman.

On overhearing the sound of the music played by the drummer the son asked his mother,

‘Mother, where this sound of music is coming from? Let us go to see it.’

Mother went to see the musical procession with her son. She asked queens, ‘What is this?

Queen replied ‗we are going to bestow the potter woman for performing a religious vow in a unique way.’

‘Oh! Ladies, ‗What will you do by bestowing my religious vows? If you really want to shower pearls then shower with love and devotion on a simple hearted Mahadevji who set everything well.’

‘As Mahadevji pleased with her, may He please with all!’

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