Short Story - The Dowry
One day Mahadev saw four men coming to his abode.
“They are my brothers,” said his wife, Parvati. “They’ve come for dahej (bride price).”
Mahadev welcomed his brothers-in-law and offered them food and drink, but when they began to talk of dowry he told them he had only two possessions—his khappar (a broken earthern pot) and his bull, Nandi.
“Take one of them,” he said.
The brothers took Nandi.
As they were leaving, Parvati advised them to take good care of Nandi as the bull could make them wealthy.
“Take a look at his hump,” she said.
When the brothers returned they wondered how Nandi could make them rich.
“Perhaps there are jewels in his hump,” said one of the brothers, “else why should Parvati have drawn our attention to it.”
They slew the animal and were greatly disappointed when it yielded no gems.
Parvati was furious.
“Oh, you foolish men!” she said. “When I drew attention to Nandi’s hump I wanted to show you what a powerful body he had. If you had yoked him to a plough he would have helped you reap a rich harvest and made you prosperous. Now you will have to pay dearly for slaying a sacred animal!”
Having vented her fury on them she left, saying she never wanted to see them again.
Bhils attribute their penury to the folly of these four men who were their ancestors.
An Agricultural People, one of our important tribes, the Bhil number nearly 2.5 million. They are based in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra of India. Nearly all of them are engaged in agriculture.