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The Pious Woman

Category: Part I.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a very pious woman and her special virtue was that she
would not eat or drink on any day until she had first given alms to a
beggar. One day no beggar came to her house, so by noon she got tired
of waiting, and, tying in her cloth some parched rice, she went to the
place where the women drew water. When she got there she saw a Jugi
coming towards her, she greeted him and said that she had brought
dried rice for him. He said that omens had bidden him come to her
and that he came to grant her a boon: she might ask one favour and
it would be given her. The woman said: "Grant me this boon--to know
where our souls go after death, and to see at the time of death how
they escape, whether through the nose or the mouth, and where they
go to; and tell me when I shall die and where my soul will go to;
this I ask and no more." Then the Jugi answered, "Your prayer is
granted, but you must tell no one; if you do, the power will depart
from you." So saying he took from his bag something like a feather and
brushed her eyes with it and washed them with water. Then the woman's
eyes were opened and she saw spirits--bongas, bhuts, dains, churins,
and the souls of dead men; and the Jugi told her not to be afraid,
but not to speak to them lest men should think her mad; then he took
his leave, and she returned home. Now in the village lived a poor man
and his wife and they were much liked because they were industrious
and obedient; shortly afterwards this poor man died and the pious
woman saw men come with a palankin and take away the poor man's soul
with great ceremony. She was pleased at the sight and thought that
the souls of all men were taken away like this. But shortly afterwards
her father-in-law died. He had been a rich man, but harsh, and while
the family were mourning the pious woman saw four sipahis armed with
iron-shod staves and of fierce countenance come to the house and two
entered and took the father-in-law by the neck and thrust him forth;
they bound him and beat him, they knocked him down and as he could
not walk they dragged him away by his legs. The woman followed him to
the end of the garden and when she saw him being dragged away, she
screamed. When her husband's relatives saw her screaming and crying
they were angry and said that she must have killed her father-in-law
by witchcraft, for she did not sit by the corpse and cry but went to
the end of the garden. So after the body had been burnt they held
a council and questioned her and told her that they would hold her
to be a witch, if she could not explain. So she told them of the
power which the Jugi had conferred on her and of what she had seen,
and they believed her and acquitted her of the charge of witchcraft;
but from that time she lost her power and saw no more spirits.

Next: The Wise Daughter-in-law

Previous: The Jealous Stepmother

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