Oraons: The SARHUL Festival (Part-IV)

The said Shaal-tree was the home of thousand of crows. Every night, the crows used to return to their nests and then they used to indulge in nonstop chattering for hours; discussing who is doing what, who is going where, how is everyone, et al.  One night few crows, who had returned from the east direction started discussing the health of a King. The King was suffering from a skin disease in his ears but he was unable to get it cured by any of his court physicians. Therefore, every few days, his court physicians had to operate cut-off and throw-away the infected portion of ears. The king had announced that he would award half of his vast kingdom to the person who would cure him of his rather irritating infection. Then one of the cunning crows said that he knows the cure….the king only needed to apply the crows’ excrements on his infected ears….but we all are getting good food, so why should we tell him the cure?  The young lady, the wife of the seventh brother overheard the entire conversation between the crows.
Few days had passed since then; the young lady came across the King’s soldiers and his physicians, who had come to the jungle to look for medicinal herbs and shrubs. They told her about the King’s disease and his promise to award half of his vast kingdom to the person who would cure him of his ailment. Wasting no time, she asked the King’s men to take her to the King as she could cure him of the infectious disease.
After reaching the King’s palace and meeting him; she applied her medicines on the infected portion of his ears. Her medicines worked and in a few days time the King was completely cured. As promised, the King rewarded the young lady with half of his kingdom. She started living in her own palace and soon gave birth to her child. Both mother and the child started leading a happy and prosperous life. But the Queen could never forget the Shaal-tree of the jungle. Every year, she would visit the Shaal-tree to perform puja (formal prayers).
After few years, one day the wood-cutter visited her palace to sell the wood. The Queen recognized the wood-cutter but decided against talking to him. The wood-cutter was paid the money by her servants. Next day, the wood-cutter again came back to sell some more wood; the women could not hold herself back and asked her palace guards to bring him to her. The wood-cutter was terrified, when he was brought in front of the Queen. The Queen asked about him and his entire family. The wood-cutter narrated the entire story in detail. Hearing the sad and repenting story of the wood-cutter, the Queen could not stop herself from revealing her identity to the wood-cutter. The wood-cutter and his wife were finally united after undergoing so much pain and they decided that they would live together in her palace. After reuniting with her husband, the Queen could never forget the Shaal-tree of the jungle. Every year, she would visit the Shaal-tree to perform puja (formal prayers) even in her old age, right until her death. The old age Queen is known as the highly respected ‘Sarna Maa’ (Sarna Mother) among the Oraons.

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