Dr. Santanu Banerjee and Rahul Kundu : The Harish Mangal Chandi Brata is observed on every Tuesday in the month of Baishakh according to the Bangla Calendar. It has been observed by women, both married and widowed. It is believed that by observing this Brata one may get rid of all misery and shall avoid all tears by means of the grace of the goddess – Mangal Chandi.
Once upon a time a Brahmin’s wife lived in a small village, and a Milkmaid of that village made friendship with her. Their relation was excellent. Each time the Brahmin’s wife observed the Harish Mangal Chandi Brata during the month of Baishakh, the Milkmaid would sit patiently near her and follow her actions with care.
On another occasion the Milkmaid herself wished to observe the Brata and asked the Brahmin’s wife what this Brata was all about and why did people observe it? To this her friend replied that the worship of Mangal Chandi could bring about perfect happiness in every walk of life and the one who would properly observe the Brata never suffer or even shed her tears.
Listening to these words of her friend the Milkmaid was excited. She held the hands of the Brahmin’s wife tight into her own and said that she really wanted to observe this ritual. The Brahmin’s wife however tried to persuade her about the troubles of the Brata. She said, “I don’t think you will be able to manage it. After all, this is very difficult.” But the Milkmaid did not pay any heed to her words. She was very resolute. Eventually the Brahmin’s wife had to speak out the details of the ritual to her friend.
At the beginning of the month of Baishakh, the Milkmaid started observing the Brata. When the first couple of phases were successfully accomplished, the goddess Mangal Chandi was so pleased on her that she blessed the Milkmaid and her family with every prosperity and happiness.
The Milkmaid was very poor earlier. But now she was rich and also engaged with too much of work. Alas, she felt it a trouble to handle the pressure brought in with the changes in her financial condition! Now she desired to weep a little. But she would know no tears since the goddess had blessed her complete happiness! Quite depressed she went back to the Brahmin’s wife and told her, “Friend, I can no more bear such things. I just want to cry to my heart’s content. Now, would you please tell me what to do next? I just want to cry and cry very hard.”
The Brahmin’s wife was really surprised to listen to her friend’s experience and replied, “Why friend, why do you want to cry? After all you have a very happy life now, and none would wish to weep in such a condition. Mangal Chandi has blessed you with prosperity and you are asking for misery! Once this Brata is performed no misery would disturb, not even a drop of tear would come.” The Brahmin’s wife added that she did mention about it earlier that the Brata might not be very easy. Since the Milkmaid paid no attention to her caution, what would be the point in yearning for a cry now?
The condition of the Milkmaid was as miserable as an insane. She could not live a single moment without shedding her tears, but tears she had not! And she went on requesting her friend repeatedly to think of some remedy. The Brahmin’s wife too was at her wits’ end to witness the sad plight of her friend though she was ready to try her best in finding a solution. Meanwhile she noticed a paddy field nearby. On one side of the field pumpkins and gourds were grown. “Well”, she then said to the milkmaid, “if you want to cry that badly, better you go to our neighbour’s field and chop off all the pumpkins and gourds there and spoil the entire vegetable garden. You would very easily make the farmers angry and they would curse you and soon you will cry.”
After listening to this advice the Milkmaid thanked her friend and decided to enter into the fields and destroy every plant there. But unfortunately for her, she could make no bad thing happen; the creepers did not die and the farmers were not angered. Rather they gladly approached the Milkmaid saying, “O Mother, all the creepers are now greener by your touch. You are the goddess of prosperity for us.” So she did not get any chance of shedding her tears there. Very disheartened she came back to her friend and reported her everything that had happened.
The Brahmin’s wife now told the Milkmaid, “See friend, the King’s elephant is dead and its carcass is lying on the field. Better go and sit near it. Then the King’s men would think that you had something to do with its death. Or they would believe that you went to steal the tusks of the elephant. When they would punish you, it should be reason enough for your tears.” But this time too goddess Mangal Chandi’s blessings did a miracle. When the Milkmaid touched the body of the dead elephant it returned to life. The King’s men were amazed and they ran to the King to report about the incredible event. The King was so delighted in getting back his favourite animal that he rewarded the Milkmaid handsomely instead of punishing her.
Next the Brahmin’s wife advised her friend, “If you really want to cry, why don’t you send some poisoned sweets to your daughter’s house. The whole family there would eat those sweets and die and that would be sufficient for your cry.” The Milkmaid was so unwavering in her wish to shed tears that she accepted this dangerous proposal as well. She really sent some poisoned sweet to her daughter. But once again the goddess’s grace turned the gall into nectar. Everyone in her daughter’s family loved those condensed-milk laddus and wrote to her that she should send more sweets.
This failure turned the Milkmaid frantic and she took the decision to stop observing the Harish Mangal Chandi Brata immediately. As she really discontinued the ritual, the goddess was enraged. This way the Milkmaid lost one after another her husband, sons, servants, elephants and horses and finally robbed off her property and wealth. By losing everything now she was able to weep loud and clear and shed many a tears. This time she could not restrain herself from weeping and continued to weep for several days. Finally she went to her friend to tell that now she was incapable to bear suffering and at any cost wished to check her surging emotions.
The Brahmin’s wife was surprised once again. However, she replied to the Milkmaid, “You wanted to cry friend, and the goddess fulfilled your wish. Now why are you so keen to stop your tears? You are given a chance by the goddess to weep, so weep for the dead loudly and only when you are fully contented start observing the Brata again from the next Tuesday.”
The Milkmaid thus returned home and continued weeping for sometimes bitterly. Then she started observing the Brata once again. Holding in her hands two small pitchers full with water she started worshiping Mangal Chandi piously. And this time she heard someone whispering into her ears, “You never do such things again child. Have no fear anymore, for I have responded to your call. Go and sprinkle the water from those two pitchers on the dead and they will return to life.”
By the grace of the goddess Mangal Chandi the Milkmaid finally got her happiness back. She picked up her pitchers in no time and rushed to the house of her friend to report everything as usual. She touched her friend’s feet and asked for her blessings. All of their neighbours nevertheless were surprised to know the story of the Milkmaid.
Photographs by Apurba Banerjee
Post Graduate Student of English
Kazi Nazrul University, Asansol