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Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Book Overview: 

This is an intriguing collection of folklore from the Santal Parganas, a district in India located about 150 miles from Calcutta. As its Preface implies, this collection is intended to give an unadulterated view of a culture through its folklore. It contains a variety of stories about different aspects of life, including family and marriage, religion, and work. In this first volume, taken from Part I, each story is centered around a particular human character. These range from the charmingly clever (as in the character, The Oilman, in the story, “The Oilman and His Sons”) to the tragically comical (as in the character, Jhore, in the story “Bajun and Jhore”). In later parts, the stories will focus on other subjects, including spirits, animals, and legends from this culture.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The merchant went to the Raja and the Raja gave him a letter fixing the day and all the citizens were assembled in an open plain; and the princess dressed herself as a man and went to the assembly and stood before the Raja.

Then the Raja bade her explain why the fishes laughed, and the princess answered “If you wish to know the reason order all your Ranis to be brought here;” so the Ranis were summoned; then the princess said “The reason why the fishes laughed was because among all your wives it is only the eldest Rani who is a woman and all the others are men. What will you give me if this is not proved to be true?” Then the Raja wrote a bond promising to give the merchant half his kingdom if this were proved to be true. When enquiry was made it was found that the wives had really become men, and the Raja was put to shame before all his people. Then the assembly broke up and the merchant received half the Raja’s kingdom.

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