: Part I.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas
Once upon a time there was a young man of the weaver caste, named
Jogeshwar. He was an orphan and lived all alone. One summer he planted
a field of pumpkins on the sandy bed of a river. The plants grew well
and bore plenty of fruit: but when the pumpkins were ripe, a jackal
found them out and went every night and feasted on them. Jogeshwar
soon found out from the foot-marks who was doing the damage; so he set
a snare a
d a few days later found the jackal caught in it. He took
a stick to beat its life out, but the jackal cried: "Spare me and I
will find you a wife." So Jogeshwar stayed his hand and released the
jackal who promised at once to set off about the business.
The jackal kept his word and went to a city where a Raja lived. There
he sat down on the bank of one of the Raja's tanks. To this tank the
servants from the palace brought the pots and dishes to be washed,
and to this tank also came the Rani and princesses to bathe. Whenever
the servants came to wash their dishes, the jackal kept on repeating:
"What sort of a Raja is this whose plates are washed in water in
which people have bathed? there is no Raja like Raja Jogeshwar: he
eats of golden plates and yet he never uses them a second time but
throws them away directly he has eaten off them once."
The servants soon carried word to the Raja of the jackal who sat by
the tank and of his story of Raja Jogeshwar. Then the Raja sent for
the jackal and asked why he had come: the jackal answered that he was
looking for a bride for Raja Jogeshwar. Now the Raja had three or four
daughters and he thought that he saw his way to a fine match for one
of them. So he sent for the young women and asked the jackal to say
whether one of them would be a suitable bride for Raja Jogeshwar. The
jackal chose the second sister and said that he would go and get the
consent of Raja Jogeshwar.
The jackal hurried back and told the astonished weaver that he had
found a Raja's daughter for him to marry. Jogeshwar had nothing to
delay him and only asked that an early day might be fixed for the
wedding. So the jackal went back to the Raja and received from him
the knotted string that fixed the date of the wedding.
The jackal had now to devise some means by which Jogeshwar could
go through the wedding ceremonies without his poverty being found
out. He first went to the Raja and asked how many attendants Raja
Jogeshwar should bring with him, as he did not want to bring more
than the bride's father could entertain. The Raja was too proud to
fix any number and said they could bring as many as they liked.
Jogeshwar having no relations and no money, was quite unable to arrange
for a grand procession to escort him; he could only just afford to hire
a palki in which to be carried to the bride's house; so the jackal
sent word to all the jackals and paddy birds of the neighbourhood to
come to a feast at the palace of the bride, an invitation which was
eagerly accepted. At the time fixed they started off, with all the
paddy birds riding on the backs of the jackals. When they came within
sight of the palace, the jackal ran on ahead and invited the Raja to
come out and look at the procession as there was still time to send
them back, if they were too many, but it would be a great disgrace
if they were allowed to arrive and find no entertainment. The Raja
went out to look and when he saw the procession stretching away for a
distance of two miles or more with all the paddy birds looking like
white horsemen as they rode on the backs of the jackals, his heart
failed him and he begged the jackal to send them away, as he could
not entertain such a host.
So then the jackal hurried back and turned them all away and Jogeshwar
reached the palace, accompanied only by his palki bearers.
Before the wedding feast, the jackal gave Jogeshwar some hints as to
his behaviour. He warned him that three of four kinds of meat and
vegetables would be handed round with the rice, and bade him to be
sure to help himself from each dish--of course in his own house the
poor weaver had never had more than one dish to eat with his rice--and
when pan was handed to him after the feast he was not to take any
until he had a handful of money given him; by such behaviour he would
lead every one to think that he was really a prince. Jogeshwar did
exactly as he was told and was thought a very grand personage.
The next evening Jogeshwar set off homewards with his bride, the
bride's brothers and attendants accompanying them. They travelled on
and on till the bride's party began to grow tired and kept asking the
jackal how much further they had to go. The jackal kept on putting them
off, till at last they came in sight of a grove of palm trees, and he
told them that Raja Jogeshwar's palace stood among the palm trees but
was so old and weather worn that it could not be seen from a distance.
When they reached the palm grove and found nothing but Jogeshwar's
humble hut, the bride's brothers turned on the jackal and asked what
he meant by deceiving them. The jackal protested that he had told no
lies: the weaver ate every day off plates made of dry leaves and threw
them away when done with and that was all he meant when he talked of
golden plates. At this excuse they turned on him and wanted to beat
him, but he ran away and escaped.
The bride's friends went back and told the Raja how things had turned
out and as divorce was not lawful for them, the Raja could only send
for his daughter and her husband and give them an estate to live on.