Santal: The Monkey and the Girl

For more about sati, often spelled in English "suttee" (reflecting the Hindi pronunciation), see this Wikipedia article: Suttee. For more about the wife of the god Shiva, from whom the practice took its name, also see Wikipedia: Sati.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Santal Folklore unit. Story source: Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas (1909).

The Monkey and the Girl

Once upon a time, the boys and girls of a village used to watch the crops of but growing by a river, and there was a Hanuman monkey who wished to eat the crops, but they drove him away. So he made a plan: he used to make a garland of flowers and go with it to the field and, when he was driven away, he would leave the flowers behind, and the children were pleased with the flowers and ended by making friends with the monkey and did not drive him away.

There was one of the young girls who was fascinated by the monkey and promised to marry him. Some of the other children told this in the village, and the girl’s father and mother came to hear of it and were angry and the father took some of the villagers and went and shot the monkey.

Then they decided not to throw away the body, but to burn it like the corpse of a man. So they made a pyre and put the body on it and set fire to it; just then the girl came and they told her to go away, but she said that she wished to see whether they really burned him like a man.

So she stood by, and when the pyre was in full blaze, she called out “Oh look, what is happening to the stars in the sky!”

At this, everyone looked up at the sky; then she took some sand which she had in the fold of her cloth and threw it into the air, and it fell into their eyes and blinded them.

While they were rubbing the sand out of their eyes, the girl leapt on to the pyre and was burned along with the monkey and died a sati. Her father and brothers were very angry at this and said that the girl must have had a monkey’s soul, and so she was fascinated by him — and so saying, they bathed and went home.

(300 words)

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