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Story No. 551

The Child Who Knew His Father

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

Once upon a time there was a girl whose parents took the greatest care that she should not be familiar with any of the young men of the village. But in spite of their precautions she formed an intimacy with a young man and was presently found to be with child. When this became known the villagers held a panchayat to enquire into the matter, but the girl flatly declined to give any information and her father and brothers were unable to point out the offender. So the village elders decided to let the matter stand over till the child was born.

When the birth took place the question arose in whose name its head should be shaved; as its father was still unknown, the villagers decided that this should be settled when the child was old enough to talk. So when the child was two or three years old and could prattle a little, the girl’s father went to the headman and paranic and asked them what was to be done. They said that he must pay a fine to them and another to the villagers, because he had made the village unclean for so long, and give a feast to the villagers and then they would find out the father of the child and make him marry the girl; and if he refused to do this, he would be outcasted. The unfortunate man agreed and then the jog manjhi and godet were sent to call all the men of the neighbourhood to a meeting.

They assembled in their best clothes and pagris and sat down in rows, and in the middle a circle was drawn on the ground; then prayers were offered to Chando and the child was set in the circle and told to find its father. The child began to walk slowly along the lines of men but it did not stop till it came to its real father, who was sitting a little apart, and then it threw itself into his arms. Thus the truth was discovered and the man married the girl and, as he was very poor, went to live in his father-in-law’s house.



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