A daughter is better than a son: Rajasthan Folktale

A daughter is better than a son: Rajasthan Folktale

A daughter is better than a son: Thakur Ari Singh was lying on deathbed. Relatives and friends surrounded him. He had only one daughter, named Lhalarde, who was standing motionless near her father. The atmosphere was tense. There was no hope of survival for Ari Singh.

As is customary, the last wish of a dying man is found out and members of his family try to fulfill it.

One of the relatives of Thakur asked him his last wish. Thakur’s lamp of life suddenly fluttered and a light twinkled in his eyes. With a soft smile, he said, “I have seen ups and downs of life. Many of my wishes were fulfilled and I enjoyed and lived life fully, but I still cherish two wishes which remain unfulfilled.”

A daughter is better than a son: Rajasthani Folktale

All those around Thakur spoke in one voice and assuring him of fulfilling his wishes, they requested him to spell them out.

Ari Singh said, “My first wish is that you go to Gujarat and fetch horses from there. My second wish is that I listen to the famous folk-song of Rajasthan Todarmal.”

Todarmal, a folk-song of Rajasthan, is sung when a bridegroom comes back to his house with his bride. It is a welcome song sung for the bridegroom.

His relatives suggested that this wish of his could be fulfilled if he adopted a son. But to fetch the horses from Gujarat was not possible.

There was silence all around for a while. His daughter Lhalarde broke this silence and assured him that both his wishes would be fulfilled.

Thakur heaved a sigh of relief and the next moment he died in peace.

Lhalarde performed all the last rites of her father. The only job left for her was to fulfill his father’s last two wishes.

She disguised herself as a young man and left for Gujarat riding on a horse.

On her way to Gujarat, she came across a Rajput warrior accompanied by a barber. The Rajput was also going to Gujarat with the same purpose. He suggested that since they had a common aim, it would be better if they made a united effort. Lhalarde liked the idea and accepted the proposal.

The King of Gujarat had a selected breed of horses and his horses were known far and wide. They were left free to graze in green pastures of Gujarat near a big tank. A drum (nagada) was kept there. If anyone wanted to carry the horses, he had to beat the drum. Hearing the drum beat, brave soldiers of the king would come and give a fight to the aspirant. If the aspirant won, he would carry the horses of his choice.

Lhalarde, the Rajput warrior and the barber were now near the tank where the horses were grazing. Lhalarde suggested that she would beat the drum and stop the advance of the soldiers. Meanwhile the warrior and the barber could carry the horses with them. The warrior and the barber were happy at the suggestion.

The operation started. Lhalarde beat the drum. The Rajput warrior got busy, gathering the horses. When the soldiers arrived on the spot with their commander, they found only one person there. The commander taunted, “You are alone, we never fight with a single man.”

“You can fight turn by turn, singly, and the result would decide your fate.” Lhalarde, in the disguise of a young man, laughed and again said, “Leave alone the question of having a duel. I would dart my lance into the earth, if your soldiers could pull it out single handily, I would accept my defeat.”

This challenge was accepted by the commander. The lance was hurled into the earth. The soldiers tried to pull it out but did not succeed. Even the commander tried and failed. Lhalarde won and free to pick out the horses of her choice.

A daughter is better than a son: Rajasthan Folktale
A daughter is better than a son: Rajasthan Folktale

Now Lhalarde joined the Rajput warrior. They agreed to distribute the horses equally between them but the number was uneven with the result that one horse was left out. The Rajput warrior wanted that the young man should have it, but Lhalarde refused and cut the horse into two with her sword. As she gave the stroke, the barber could see that Lhalarde, was a pretty young lady in disguise of a young man. He spoke to his master about it. The Rajput warrior spoke out straight to the young man who readily disclosed the facts and said that she had to do all that for fulfilling the last wish of her father.

The Rajput warrior was happy to be in the company of a brave woman and put a proposal of marriage to her. Lharalde replied that she could marry him only if he could accept her condition – he would have to wear the clothes of a bride and she would go to his house as a bridegroom and carry him to her house after marrying so that Todarmal could be sung at her house. This was also a wish of her father to be fulfilled.

The Rajput warrior heard her patiently and was in an embarrassing situation. The barber advised him to accept the condition, as it was a fortune to marry such a brave woman.

The warrior accepted the proposal. Lhalarde married him and took him to her house. The women sang the Todarmal and the last wish of her father was fulfilled.

Time passed on. Lhalarde had two sons who were so brave that one-day they brought a lion with them from jungle catching it by its ear. The warrior, their father, felt convinced that it was no wrong having accepted the condition of Lhalarde.

There is a couplet in this context:

Baite sain baiti bhali, je koyi hoye sapoot,
Arsi re Lhalar ni hooti, Arsik jato uoot.

Which means that Arsi Singh’s last wishes would have not been fulfilled, if he did not have a daughter like Lhalarde. So it was better having a worthy daughter than a worthless son.

~ ‘A daughter is better than a son’ folk tale by “Anonymous

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