Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Industrious Bride, The

ONCE upon a time a party of three or four men went to a village to see if a certain girl would make a suitable bride for the son of one of their friends; and while they were talking to her, another young woman came up. The visitors asked the first girl where her father was and she told them that he had gone to "meet water."

               Then they asked where her mother was, and she said that she had gone "to make two men out of one." These answers puzzled the questioners, and they did not know what more to say; as they stood silent the other girl got up and went away remarking, "While I have been waiting here, I might have carded a seer of cotton." The men who were looking for a girl who would make a good wife, at once concluded that they had found what they wanted: "How industrious she must be to talk like that" thought they--"much better than this other girl who can only give us incomprehensible answers." And before they left the village they set everything in train for a match between their friend's son and the girl who seemed so industrious.

               When they got home and told their wives what they had done they got well laughed at: their wives declared that it was quite easy to understand what the first girl had meant: of course she meant that her father had gone to reap thatching grass and her mother had gone to thresh dal. The poor men only gaped with astonishment at this explanation.

               However the marriage they had arranged duly took place, but the fact was that the bride was entirely ignorant of how to clean and spin cotton. It was not long before this was found out, for, in the spring, when there was no work in the fields, her father-in-law set all the women of the household to spinning cotton; and told them that they and their husbands should have no new clothes until they had finished their task. The bride, who had been so carefully chosen, tried to learn how to spin by watching the others, but all in vain. The other women laughed at her efforts and she protested that it was the fault of the spinning wheel: it did not know her; her mother's spinning wheel knew her well and she could spin capitally with that. They jeered at the idea of a spinning wheel having eyes and being able to recognise its owner; however one day the young woman went and fetched her mother's spinning wheel and tried to spin with that. She got on no better than before, and could only explain it by saying that the spinning wheel had forgotten her.

               Whatever the reason was, the other women all finished their spinning and received their new clothes, while she had nothing to show. Then her father-in-law scolded her and told her that it was too late to make other arrangements and as she could not get any new clothes the best thing for her to do would be to smear her body with Gur and stick raw cotton all over it. A parrab soon came round and all the other women got out their new clothes and went to see the fun. The clumsy bride had no new clothes and she took her father-in-law's advice and smeared her body with gur and covered herself with raw cotton and so went to the parrab.

               Her husband was very angry that she should have taken her father-in-law's jest in earnest, and when she came home he gave her a good beating and turned her out of the house. And that was the end of the "industrious" bride.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Industrious Bride, The
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

Back to Top