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Stories By Grandpa

The Magic Bowl

Narrated by: Kanai L Mukherjee (Grandpa), Edited by: Anuradha Chakravarthy
Courtesy: Association of Grandparents of Indian Immigrants (AGII)



The celebrations of Dashera and Diwali, are one of the most important festivities in India. Dashera is the day when Ravana, the ten-headed demon king, was slain by Rama; Diwali marks Ramaís victorious return to Ayodhya. This festive period also marks the time of offering respect to our ancestors and worshipping various forms of the goddess Parvati and Durga. These forms include Sarswati, Ambika, Kali and Lakshmi which are worshipped in different parts of India. In fact, Rama worshipped Durga, three days before slaying Ravana. Lakshmi is worshipped five days after Dashera and Kali is worshipped one month later on the day of Diwali. In some parts of India, Parvati and Saraswati are worshipped in the place of Kali. Mahalakshmi is worshipped by the business communities before Diwali, called Dhanteras. These Goddesses, and many others, are the manifestations of the same female power. A funny story associated with Dashera and Diwali is presented here.

Once there was a poor old man who lived with his wife in a small hut in a village of Rajasthan. The old man lost his job because of his age. He was too proud to beg and so he and his wife began to starve. Ultimately he decided to go to the Parvati temple two days before the Dashera. It took all day to get there and when he reached the temple the door was closing. Hungry and tired the old man sat down on the door steps of the temple and fell asleep. Goddess Parvati felt uncomfortable inside the temple and asked her attendants to get the old man.

Very soon the old man was brought in and he was surprised to see the living Parvati. He thought he was dreaming. He fell down on Goddess Parvatiís feet and with tears in his eyes he narrated the miseries he was going through. Goddess Parvati took pity and gave him a magic bowl.

The Goddess said, "Take this bowl with you. Whenever you are hungry ask the bowl to give you whatever food you want and as much as you want."

The old man returned home happily with his bowl.

The wife was very happy to know that their bad days are over by the grace of Goddess Parvati. The old man always wanted to share his food with the king and others. So he decided to invite them for a dinner on the day of Diwali. But when he approached the palace the guard stopped the old man. He explained that he wanted to invite the king to his hut for dinner. The guard approached the King and sought his permission. The courtiers laughed and were looking forward to the fun. The old man requested the king and the queen and the courtiers to have dinner with him on the evening of Diwali. The king and his ministers laughed in amusement. The chief minister cautioned, "If we come back hungry, you will be hanged for playing jokes with His Majesty." The old man agreed.

As the day approached the king was impatient to know what was going on. So he sent his attendant to find out what the old man was up to. The attendant came back and informed him that no preparations were on hand. The old man was not the least worried about the royal visit except that he put up a tent big enough to hold the royal party. The king arrived with the queen and courtiers. At dinner time, the old man came with his magic bowl and asked the king to wish for any food he wants. The king thought that the old man was joking and ordered some of the most exotic foods in the world. Much to his disbelief, before he could finish, the food was served. Thus the old man, with the help of his magic bowl, served food to the queen and the courtiers. The wicked chief minister asked the king to take away such a valuable magic bowl for the treasury. The old man tried to explain that he would starve without the bowl but no one listened. He lost the bowl. Unfortunately, the bowl did not work for any one but the proud chief minister refused to return the bowl to the old man.

Soon the couple were starving again. They some how managed to survive for a year until Dashera came again. The old man decided to go back to the temple seeking Parvatiís blessings. He reached the temple in the middle of the night and started his prayers. Once again Goddess Parvati called him in and inquired what happened. When the old man explained, the Goddess decided to teach the king a lesson. This time she gave the old man a stick and asked him to go home and use the stick the same way as the magic bowl to get his food. But she asked the old man to invite the king again for a dinner on the day of Diwali. Goddess Parvati further explained that the stick would beat everyone until the bowl was returned to him.

The old man did as he was told. The king readily believed him this time and agreed to come with the queen and courtiers. The old man came with the stick. When the orders were placed, the stick began to beat the king, the queen and the ministers. No one could stop the stick so they begged the old man to rescue them. The old man explained, "The stick wants its partner, the magic bowl, until then it will keep on beating you." The minister ran to the treasury to fetch the bowl. The bowl was then placed in the hands of the old man and the stick stopped. Soon dinner was served and the king once again enjoyed the worldís best food. The king then built a special house for the old man where he lived happily with his wife.



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