Phullara-r Baromasha

1. Phullara’s Twelve Months

1.1. Part 1

Goddess Chandi, in golden heifer’s guise,
The brave hunter Kalketu did surprise.
As a beautiful maid, she then arrives;
Phullara to bitter jealousy drives.
Quietly to herself Chandi smiles, and says,
I’ve come to relieve your sorrowful days.
Imagining a rival, Phullara, sad wife,
Tells the story of her twelve-month strife.

“A fierce drought burns in the spring of Baishakh, no shade of a tree to lay out my wares. The sun’s fiery rays scorch my feet, the rough cloth isn’t enough to cover my head. My body burns with poison in Baishakh; all turn vegetarian and meat doesn’t sell.

“My coarse clothes fall to pieces in the harsh heat of sinful Jaishtha. If I abandon my wares to drink water, in a blink, the hawk swoops for my goods. Hot winds blow in this wicked month of Jaishtha, as I fast on a diet of thorny fruit.

“The new clouds of Asharh are brimming with water, yet households lie empty of provisions. I roam door to door with meat to sell, earning broken kernels of rice, not enough to fill my belly. I count my misfortunes, the hundreds of leeches that feast on me, yet no cobra bites to end my misery.

“Pouring rain, day and night, in the month of Sraban; lunar fortnights, light and dark, blur into sameness. My world drowns in the flood of rain from new clouds. In such times, to kill a deer is sin. Hear my sad tale, O God! The brave hunter’s home weathers no storm, yet my hut floods.

“When clouds grow unruly in Bhadrapad, rivers and streams meld; water everywhere. As I roam in vain with my hamper of meat, a hungry fire burns my body, within and without. How much more pain will you inflict, without relief of happiness? My husband is gone astray, and fortune turns its back upon me.”

By the river where the two worlds meet,
In Aruna forest, Khullana grazed her flock,
While we worshipped Ambika, goddess sweet.
So was the cult of the goddess begun,
And Phullara’s lament since then was sung.

1.2. Part 2

"In the month of Ashwin, when prayers to Goddess Ambika are said, when offerings are made of buffaloes and goats, when other wives are decked in finery, hapless Phullara worries about bare necessities. It is a month much loved by all, for sacrificial meat is plentiful in every home.

“Frost is born in Kartik. To keep out the cold, all snuggle into warm clothes, which the gods provide for all; but luckless Phullara, she huddles in a deer hide. Hear my sad lament, O God! No defence from the cold but to sit hugging my knees, warming by the fire.

“Of all months, Aghrayan is most divine! Grain is abundant - fields, markets, granaries, and homes are full. Fortune fills bellies with food, yet fate decrees this winter, cold as death. Ill-fated Phullara - I tally my griefs, as I pull an old scarf around me for cover.

“Despite the sharp cold of Paush, most are content, whose backs are covered with warm clothes. Instead of deerskin, I find an old coarse blanket that rains billows of dust upon my body. What a pointless fate to be born a woman! For fear of dust, I dare not open my eyes as I lie resting.

“In the calamitous, unrelenting fogs of Magh, the deer hide away in darkness. We cannot hunt, nor pick greens in the month of Magh. There is no end to the impediments to Phullara’s daily work! Everyone abstains from meat and fasts in this terrible month.

“Phalgun brings extremes of heat and cold; I pledge my stone and clay pots for fragments of rice. Phullara is unfortunate indeed, for she has no other vessels to store rice. Know my misery, O God! See that hole in the ground where we keep our cold rice-gruel.

“Sweet Chaitra brings a soft southern breeze, and bees sip honey from the malati flower. Yet we, husband and wife, are tormented by hunger.”

Hearing Phullara’s lament, Parbati appeared,
“From this day, of my wealth you shall partake.”
Sings Kabikankan, so the goddess spake;
From our poet of the Bhrigu clan, thus have we heard.

This text is an English-language translation of the original version:

This is a selection from the original text


climate, cooking, drought, famine, feast, natural dye, oral narrative, patachitra, scroll, season

Source text

Title: Phullara-r Baromasha

Author: Dukhushyam Chitrakar

Editor(s): Sujit Mondal, Ayesha Mukherjee

Publisher: University of Exeter

Publication date: 2020

Place of publication: Exeter

Digital edition

Original author(s): Dukhushyam Chitrakar

Language: English


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Sujit Mondal

Texts transcribed by: Sujit Mondal

Texts translated by: Ayesha Mukherjee

Texts encoded by: Shrutakirti Dutta

Encoding checking by: Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > poetry

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.