This is yet another amusing and heartwarming folk tale from Bengal.
Once upon a time, there lived a weaver in a small cottage in a village on the edge of a forest. The forest was deep and green filled with big leafy trees. Birds and animals abounded. It was a peaceful little village. The weaver was a simple and kind-hearted person and lived peacefully with his gentle mother. He wove beautiful mats and sold them in the nearby villages. He lived frugally but had one weakness. He used to love eating a special sweet called ‘Pithe’ made by his mother using jaggery, coconut, and milk.
One day, he had this great urge to eat Pithe. He asked his mother to make some for him. So his mother made 7 Pithes. The weaver was delighted and danced about the courtyard in glee! The mother was amused and asked him to stop dancing and eat sweets instead. So he ran to the forest and sat all alone under a big banyan tree to eat the sweets in peace. He looked at the sweets and chanted:
” I’ll chew up one, I’ll chew up two,
All seven of them I’ll chew up true.”
I’ll chew up one, I’ll chew up two,
All seven of them I’ll chew up true.”
Now it so happened that there resided 7 ghosts up in the banyan tree in its thick foliage. They heard the weaver chanting and got frightened thinking he intended to chew them up. So the eldest ghost appeared before the weaver with folded hands and prayed:
” O weaver, we have not harmed you or anyone in the village, why then do you want to chew us up?”
The weaver was taken aback, but before he could answer, the ghost continued,
” If I give you a wishing pot, will you promise not to eat us?”
” What type of wishing pot?”, the weaver asked suspiciously.
” The pot will give you unlimited food of any type that you wish for.”
” I don’t believe you, show me.”
” Wish for something then”, the ghost replied.
” I wish to eat chicken curry!”
No sooner did the words come out of his mouth, a hot, tasty dish of chicken curry came out of the pot.
The weaver was very happy and started off towards home to show the pot to his mother.
Darkness fell before he could reach home, so he stopped at a friend’s cottage to spend the night. Being a trusting soul, he confided in his friend about his good fortune.
The friend was very wily, and while the weaver slept, he stole the pot and replaced it with an ordinary one.
In the morning, the weaver, not suspecting anything, thanked his friend for his hospitality and set off for home with the pot.
When he showed his mother the pot, it, being an ordinary one, refused to grant any wishes. The angry weaver rushed back to the banyan tree and started scolding the ghosts. The eldest ghost pacified him and gave him a goat that could cough up gold coins. Again the weaver spent the night with his friend and told him about the magic goat. The greedy friend played the same trick again, stole the magic goat, and tied an ordinary one in its place.
Once again when the goat failed to produce gold coins, the weaver rushed back to the tree and made all sorts of dire threats against the ghosts. By this time, the ghosts had figured out that something was amiss and asked him to tell the details of his journey from forest to home.
When they heard the details, they told him that his friend had stolen the magic pot and goat. So this time they gifted him with a thick bamboo stick that could beat up anyone on command. Again the weaver stopped at his friend’s house and pretended to sleep. When the friend tried to steal the stick, the weaver commanded it to beat the friend up. After being thoroughly beaten up, the friend confessed to his crime and gave back the magic pot and goat.
With the help of his magical gifts, the weaver became rich and famous.
Now, it so happened that the neighboring king declared war on the weaver’s province. The weaver’s king was a good soul and was on friendly terms with him. He asked the weaver to help him when the enemy attacked. The weaver’s bamboo stick became active, beat up all the enemy soldiers, and drove them back. The king was overjoyed and gifted half his kingdom to the weaver along with his daughter in marriage.
The marriage was solemnized with great pomp and show as befitting a princess and the party continued for long with unlimited food and sweets being provided by the magic pot!
The weaver and the princess lived happily ever after.