Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Sahde Goala

ONCE a marriage was arranged between Sahde Goala and Princess Chandaini and on the wedding day when it began to get dusk Sahde Goala ordered the sun to stand still. "How," said he, "can the people see the wedding of a mighty man like myself in the dark?" So at his behest the sun delayed its setting for an hour, and the great crowd which had assembled saw all the grand ceremonies.

               The next day Sahde and his bride set off home and it took them three days to reach the place where he lived. Before they left they had invited the princess's father to come and see them; accordingly a day or two later he set out, but it took him three months to accomplish the distance which Sahde Goala had traversed in three days. When the old Raja reached his son-in-law's house they welcomed him and washed his feet and offered him refreshments; and when he had eaten, he asked his son-in-law to take him out for a stroll. So they went out, Sahde Goala in front and the old Raja following behind him and as they walked Sahde Goala struck his foot against a stone, and the stone was shattered to pieces. When the Raja saw this proof of his son-in-law's superhuman strength, he became alarmed for his daughter's safety. If Sahde ever lost his temper with her he might clearly smash her to atoms, so he made up his mind that he could not leave her in such keeping. When he told his daughter what he had seen she was as frightened as her father and begged him to take her home, so they agreed to escape together some time when Sahde Goala was out of the way.

               One morning Sahde Goala went out to watch his men working in the fields and the old Raja and his daughter seized this opportunity to escape. Sahde Goala had a sister named Lorokini and she ran to the field to tell her brother that his wife was running away. "Let her go" said Sahde Goala. The old Raja travelled faster than his daughter and left her behind and as she travelled along alone Sahde Goala made a flooded river flow across her path. It was quite unfordable so the Princess stood on the bank and sang:--

"My mother gave me birth,     
My father gave me in marriage:     
If the water upstream would stand still     
And the water downstream would flow away     
Then I could go and live in my own home."

                But no such thing happened and she had to go back to her husband's house.

               When she arrived her mother-in-law gave her a large basket of cooked rice and a pot of relish and told her to take them to the labourers in the field. Her mother-in-law helped her to lift the basket on to her head and she set off. When she reached the field she called to her sister-in-law:--

 "Come Lorokini,     
Lift down from my head     
The basket of rice     
And the pot of relish."

                But Lorokini was angry with her for trying to run away and refused to help, singing:--

"I will not come     
I will not lift down the basket:     
Prop it against a murup tree:     
I will not lift it down."

                Then Chandaini Rani propped it against the trunk of a murup tree, and so set it on the ground.

               Then she sang to her husband:--

"Here, husband, is the lota of water:     
Here, husband, is the tooth stick;     
Come, and wash your hands:     
If you are angry with me     
Take me back to my father and mother."

                But Sahde Goala was ploughing at the head of his men and paid no attention to her: then she sang again:--

"Seven hundred labourers     
And twenty hundred women labourers,     
You are causing to die of thirst."

                But still Sahde Goala paid no attention. Then Chandaini Rani got angry and by leaning the basket against the murup tree managed to get it on to her head again and carried it home, and from that time murup trees grow slanting. Directly she had taken the rice and relish to the house she set off again to run away to her mother. As before Sahde Goala caused a flooded river to flow across her path and as before she sang:--

"My mother gave me birth,     
My father gave me in marriage:     
If the water upstream would stand still     
And the water downstream would flow away     
Then I could go and live in my own home,"

                And this time the water did stand still and the water below all flowed away and she crossed over. As she crossed she said "If I am really chaste no one will be able to touch me." And as she reached the opposite bank she saw a young man sitting waiting for her; his name was Bosomunda, he had been sitting waiting for her on the bank for days without moving. When he saw Chandaini Rani mount the bank he rose and said "Come: I have been waiting for you, you are to be my mistress." "Fie, fie!" answered she "Am I to belong to any Dome or Hari?" Bosomunda swore that she should be his. "If so, then follow a little behind me so as not to tread on my shadow." So they went on, the Rani in front and Bosomunda behind. Presently they came to a tamarind tree on which grew two enormous fruits; the Rani pointed to them saying "If I am to belong to you, you must pick me those fruits." So Bosomunda began to climb the tree, and as he climbed she prayed that the tree might grow and touch the sky; and in fact as fast as Bosomunda climbed so the tree grew and he got no nearer to the fruit.

               Then the Chandaini Rani picked up the weapons which he had laid on the ground and threw them away one to the north and one to the south, one to the east and one to the west, and ran off as fast as she could. Bosomunda at first did not see her because his eyes were fixed on the tamarind fruit, but after she had gone a long way he caught sight of her and came down as fast as he could and, gathering up his weapons, went in pursuit. But Chandaini Rani had got a long start, and as she hurried along she passed a thorn tree standing by the side of the road and she called to it "Thorn tree, Bosomunda is coming after me, do your best to detain him for a little." As she spoke it seemed as if a weight descended on the tree and swayed it to and fro so that its branches swept the ground, and it answered her "I will do like this to him." Then she went on and met a goat on the road, and she asked it to do its best to delay Bosomunda, and the goat pawed the ground and dug its horns into the earth and said that it would do the same to Bosomunda. Then she went on and met a ram and made the same request; the ram charged a tree and butted it right over and promised to treat Bosomunda in the same way. Afterwards she came to a bull and the bull drove its horns into a bank and brought down a quantity of earth and said that that was the way he would treat Bosomunda. Next she came to a buffalo and the buffalo charged a bank of earth to show what he would do to Bosomunda. Then she came to an elephant and the elephant trampled a clod of earth to dust and said that he would treat Bosomunda so. Then she went on and saw a paddy bird feeding by the roadside and she asked it to do its best to delay Bosomunda; the paddy bird drove its bill into the earth and said that it would treat Bosomunda in the same way.

               Meanwhile Bosomunda was in hot pursuit. When he came to the thorn tree, the tree swayed its branches and caught him with its thorns, but he cut down the tree and freed himself; he went on a little way and met the goat which ran at him with its horns, but Bosomunda sang:--

"Do not fight with me, goat,    
I will cut off your legs and cut off your head     
And take them to the shrine of Mahadeo."

                So saying, he killed the goat and cut off its head and tied it to his waist and went on. Next the ram charged him but he sang:

"Do not fight with me, Ram,     
I will cut off your legs and cut off your head     
And take them to the shrine of Mahadeo."

                So saying he killed the Ram and took its head. Then in succession he was attacked by the bull and the buffalo and the elephant, but he killed them all and cut off their heads. Then he came to the paddy bird, which pretended to be busily engaged in picking up insects and gradually worked its way nearer and nearer. Bosomunda let it get quite close and then suddenly seized it and gave its neck a pull which lengthened it out considerably; "Thank you" said the paddy bird, as he put it down "now I shall be able to catch all the fish in a pool without moving." Thereupon Bosomunda caught it again and gave its neck a jerk and that is why paddy birds have necks shaped like a letter S.

               Bosomunda continued his pursuit and caught up Chandaini Rani just as she was entering her father's house; he seized her by her hair and managed to cut off the edge of her cloth and pull off one of her golden anklets, and then had to let her go.

               He took up his abode at the ghat of a tank and began to kill every one who came down to the water. The citizens complained to the Raja of the destruction he was causing and the Raja ordered some valiant man to be searched for, fit to do battle with the murderer; so they sent for a Birbanta (giant) and the Raja promised to give him half his kingdom and his daughter in marriage if he could slay Bosomunda. So the Birbanta made ready for the fight and advanced brandishing his weapons against Bosomunda. Three days and three nights they fought, and in the end the Birbanta was defeated and killed.

               Then the Raja ordered his subjects to find another champion and a Birburi was found willing to undertake the fight in hope of the promised reward; and as he was being taken to the field of battle his mother met him with a ladle full of curds and told him to do a war dance, and as he was dancing round she threw the curds at him; he caught the whole of it on his shield except one drop which fell on his thigh; from this his mother foresaw that he would bleed to death In the fight, so she took some rice and ran on ahead and again met her son and told him to do the war dance and show how he was going to fight; and as he danced his sword shivered to atoms. His mother said, "Is this the way in which you intended to fight, of a surety you would have met your death." Then she made him gather together the pieces of his sword and cover them with a wet cloth, and in a few minutes the pieces joined together; then she allowed him to go to the fight.

               When the battle began the Birburi's mother kept calling out "Well, Bosomunda, have you killed my son?" This enraged Bosomunda and he kept running after the old woman to drive her away, and this gave the opportunity to the Birburi to get in a good blow; in this way they fought for seven days and nights and at the end Bosomunda was defeated and killed. Then the Raja gave half his kingdom to the Birburi and married him to his daughter Chandaini Rani.

               After their marriage they set out for their new home and on the way they met Sahde Goala who had come in search of his missing wife. "Hulloa" cried Sahde Goala "where are you taking my wife to?" "I know nothing about your wife" said the Birburi "this is the Raja's daughter whom I have married as a reward for killing Bosomunda; he has given me half his kingdom from Sir Sikar to the field of the cotton tree." Then Sahde Goala told him to go his way, so the Birburi and the Rani went on and Sahde Goala caused a flooded river with the water flowing bank high to cross their path. As they waited on the bank Sahde Goala made the Birburi an offer that, if he could carry the woman across the river without getting the sole of her foot wet, then she should belong to him and if not Sahde Goala should take her. The Birburi agreed and tried and tried again to get the Rani across without wetting her, but the flood was too strong, so at last he gave in and Sahde Goala took her back with him to their former home. There they lived and in the course of time Chandaini Rani bore a son and she named him Dhonontori, and after the birth of their son the family became so wealthy (dhon) that the Hindus revered Dhonontori as a god. And so ends the story.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Sahde Goala
Tale Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Book Title: Folklore of the Santal Parganas
Book Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Publisher: David Nutt
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1909
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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