The Industrious Bride

: Part I.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

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
en 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


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.