Deccan Nursery Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 78 pages of information about Deccan Nursery Tales.

CHAPTER I

The Sunday Story

When Englishmen and Englishwomen are little boys and girls, they listen with open ears to the tales of Golden-hair and the three Bears, of Cinderella and the Prince, and of the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood.  As the boys and girls grow up, the stories fade gradually from their minds.  But a time comes when they have children of their own.  And then, to amuse the children, they can find no tales more thrilling than those which fascinated them in their own childhood.  Thus the old nursery tales are handed down for centuries from generation to generation.  Exactly the same process goes on in India, There, too, when little Indian boys and girls grow up and have little boys and girls of their own, they too tell to wide-eyed audiences the tales which they themselves found so thrilling in their own childhood.  Indian nursery tales, it is true, have a more religious tinge than those of Europe, but they are none the less appreciated on that account.  The first six stories in this little book purport to explain the connexion between the heavenly bodies and the days of the week.  So each day of the week has its separate tale.  And all through Shravan or August, probably because it is the wettest month in the year, Deccan mothers tell afresh every week-day that day’s story.  And little Deccan children listen to the tales as they fall due with the same unvarying attention.  For in nurseries, Indian as well as English, tales are loved the better when no longer new, and where the end is well known to, and therefore the better understood by, the tiny round-eyed listeners.

Now this is the tale which is told every Sunday [2] in Shravan:  Once upon a time there was a town called Atpat, and in it there lived a poor Brahman.  Every day he used to go into the woods to fetch sticks and to cut grass.  One day he met there some nymphs and wood-fairies, who said that they were performing holy rites in honour of the sun.  He asked, “What are these rites?” They replied, “If we tell you, you will become proud and vain and you will not perform them properly.”  But the Brahman promised, “No, I shall not become proud or vain and I shall observe the rites you tell me.”  They then told him that the month of Shravan was coming, and that on the first Sunday of Shravan he was to draw a picture of the sun with red sandal paste, that he was to offer to the drawing flowers and fruit, and that he should continue doing this for six months.  Thereafter he should in various ways, which they told him, entertain guests and give alms to the poor.

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Deccan Nursery Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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