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The Story of Sampat Friday

2006-07-14 00:18

  In a certain place there is a folk tale related to each day of the week. There is worship for reigning deity of each day. The present tale is about Sampat (wealth) worship on Fridays, which brings wealth and prosperity.

  In a town, there lived a very poor Brahmin. One day when his wife visited her neighbor, she told her the tale of her misery. The neighbor told her to worship Goddess Lakshmi, the reigning deity of Friday.

  She said,“ Start this worship from any Friday in the month of Shrawan. Keep fast for the whole day. In the evening invite five married women, wash their feet, offer them milk and sugar. Do this for one year and the Goddess will bless you with prosperity.” She came home, offered a sincere prayer to Goddess Lakshmi and started her Friday worship. Months passed but they remained poor as ever.

  In the same town lived her rich brother with his proud wife and children. They lived in a big house. Once the brother decided to feed a thousand Brahmins. The ceremony of feasting was to go on for a whole week. The brother and sister-in-law invited almost the whole town but not the sister. They were ashamed of their poverty.

  When the sister learnt about the feast, she said to her husband, “I will go to my brother's house.”

  Her husband said, “You have not been invited, please don't go.”

  But she protested, “Sister-in-law must have forgotten to invite me. After all, it is my brother's house. Do I need an invitation to go to his house? When he is feeding a thousand people, surely our four children and I would not be such a burden on them.

  Saying this, she got ready to go to her brother. She had neither new sari nor any ornaments. So she put on a simple sari of daily wear, and dressed her children the same way. At her brother's place, she saw the guests dressed in rich clothes.

  Her sister-in-law was moving about in the gathering, showing off her rich ornaments. Her brother ignored her. When she went inside, her sister-in-law did not even ask her to come in and have meals. Though the sister felt hurt, she behaved as if it was her own house.

  Hundreds of wooden seats were kept in a row with plates laid before them, full of rich food. She and her children occupied their seats.

  When the sister-in-law came to her she said, “Well sister, how have you come? Did your brother invite you?”

  Saying this, she looked at her poorly clad children and walked away. The sister finished her meal and went home with heavy heart.

  Next day her children wanted to go again to their uncle's place, saying, “There we would get rich food again.”

  She thought, “After all he is my brother. What does it matter if his wife insulted me? Since I am poor I have got to put up such insults.”

  The sister-in-law, this time, hurt her feelings with stronger words and asked her not to come again.

  But when she found here there again on the third day, she got angry. She rushed to her husband and shouted for all to hear, “Every day your sister comes uninvited bring her half-a-dozen children with her. People laugh at me. I feel ashamed of her. Ask her to go away.”

  The brother also felt annoyed by his sister's behavior. He went straight to her and said, “Why do you come uninvited? We feel ashamed. Go home and don't show your face again.”

  He then caught hold of her hand and drove her and her children out.

  She felt very sad. She offered a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi and fasted the whole day, bitterly weeping and saying, “Look, how poverty has taken away my brother from me.”

  The Goddess took pity on her and soon she saw a turn in her fortune. Her husband's trade picked up. By the end of year they were rolling in wealth.

  For the last puja and feast of the year, she invited her brother and sister-in-law. They had already heard about the sister's prosperity. So they felt very humbled.

  The brother said, “Sister, come to our house for dinner one day. Please don't say 'no', else we will feel hurt.”

  She accepted the invitation. On that day the sister with all her finery and ornaments visited her brother's house. The sister-in-law came out to receive her, washed her feet with hot water and seated her respectfully on the carpet. Silver plates and bowls were laid out for dinner. Choicest dishes were prepared for dinner. When everything was ready, the brother and his wife took hold of sister's hand and leading her to her seat, begged her to start the meal. But the sister did not touch the food. The sister-in-law then politely asked, “What is the matter sister? Is there anything wanting?”

  The sister said, “Please lay an empty plate by my side.”

  “For whom?” both asked.

  The sister said, “First put down the plate and then i will explain.”

  The brother hurriedly placed a plate as desired. Meanwhile the sister took off all her ornaments and arranged them neatly on the empty plate. She then started putting each item of eatables on the ornaments. The brother and his wife were surprised at what the sister was doing, and asked, “Sister, what are you doing?”

  The sister explained calmly, “I am feeding these ornaments. You have invited me to dinner today because I have these ornaments. Actually you have invited the ornaments for dinner and not me.”

  They both felt ashamed at this. Then they touched the sister's feet and begged for her forgiveness.

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