Once upon time, there was a king. One early morning, a sweeper lady passed by while the king was sitting on the balcony of his palace. She uttered “Rama, Rama” and looked away. Shocked at her insolence, the king ordered his men to present the woman before him.

Trembling, she stood before the king and begged for his mercy. The king asked her to explain her behavior. The woman told him that the king didn’t have a son or a daughter, so it hadn’t been an auspicious moment for her to look at him. Feeling heartbroken at being childless, the king relinquished his throne and retired to the nearby woods. He roamed the forest and spent his days eating the fruit that grew out there.

One day, he ran into a hermit and told him why he was staying in the woods. The hermit blessed the king with a magic fruit, which he needed to feed to his wife, the queen. The hermit said that the queen will have a baby girl. He then went on to warn the king that the princess needed to be married before she turned eight, otherwise she would remain unmarried forever.

The king readily agreed and shared the magic fruit with the queen. The couple soon had a baby girl, whom they named Rajal. By the time she turned eight, Rajal had grown into a beautiful princess.

One day, the little princess stood watching the court proceedings from the gallery. Everyone in the court was in awe of her beauty. The king now recalled the hermit’s words. He realized that the time had come for her to tie the knot. He asked one of his courtiers to find a suitable prince for her.

Rajal met the courtier near the palace gate and handed him one of her dresses. She told him that she will marry the prince who would fit into that dress. She added that he had to be an only child, just like her. The courtier went looking for the princess’ perfect match. However, his efforts didn’t bear fruit.

One day, he met another courtier from a nearby country. This courtier mentioned Prince Kuvar Kanchhala. The prince had also set forth the same condition as Rajal. Besides, he was the only son to his parents. The courtiers went to see the king and promised to discuss and agree on a date for the wedding. Soon, elaborate preparations for the ceremony were underway.

However, Princess Rajal’s aunt wanted her own daughter to marry Kuvar Kanchhala. She decided to do anything it took to get the wedding cancelled. She told Rajal that Kuvar Kanchhala visited the well near their city on a daily basis. Overcome by the curiosity to see what he looked like, Rajal asked her aunt to take her there.

The following day, she took Rajal to the well and presented a tortoise swimming inside the well as Kuvar Kanchhala. Shocked, the Princess collapsed to the ground. She went around the city asking everyone to put an immediate stop the wedding arrangements.

In the meantime, Rajal’s aunt met Kuvar Kanchhala and told him how Rajal spoke ill about him. Unable to come to terms with this, Kuvar Kanchhala decided to meet Rajal in person to see if this was true. He took seven of his best friends with him. All of them were dressed in identical attires and rode horses that looked the same. They arrived at and stayed in Champa Garden, where Rajal lived. Curiously, they could smell saffron everywhere. This fragrance also made its way to the palace. Rajal sensed this and asked her maid to close the saffron container. At this, the maid informed her that Kuvar Kanchhala had showed up to marry her.

Rajal visited the Champa Garden and saw seven princes dressed alike. Everyone was wearing a colored turban and all the horses wore a chain of twinkling bells. She couldn’t tell who the prince was.

Kuvar Kanchhala told her that the real prince wore a golden turban and his horse had a golden bell. He then teasingly asked Rajal if she thought of him as a creature waddling through the water. Saying so, he walked away with his friends.

Unable to digest this sarcastic remark, Rajal left her beaded choli on the tree and killed herself on the spot. Hearing about this, the prince returned to the Champa Garden to see if this was indeed true. Kuvar Kanchhala looked at the bead on the choli and wondered how it could shine so brightly after the princess’ death. The choli chuckled and told the prince that he had caused Rajal’s death. Feeling ashamed of himself, the prince also committed suicide the same day.

…now that you’re here

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Kalai Selvi, Folk Tale writer at Ameya
Kalai

Kalai is passionate about reading and reinterpreting folk tales from all over the country. Write to her at kalai.muse@gmail.com to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from Internet Archive.