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The fast/vrat of Saturday is observed to keep the affliction of Saturn at distance. Read to know about the Shanivar ki kahani/story of Saturday.

Shanivar ki Kahani

This story is related to Saturday fast. The devotees worship Saturn idol made of iron. Black flowers, black sesame seeds (til), horse bean (urada) and black clothes are used for worshipping. Black articles and oil are given in donation. Black sesame and horse bean are consumed as food. Wives do not perform journey to their paternal home town. The Saturday fast keeps away all the hurdles and misfortunes. Saturn sits in a mirror chariot, yoked with eight black horses. Once there was a Brahman who used to guard against evil spirits at the king's main gate palace. One day, he heard a strange voice and got frightened. He heard this voice for a couple of days.

He never talked about that mysterious voice to his wife. One day his wife said, "I try to provide you the best nutritious meals, still you are losing your health. What is wrong with you?" For some time, he kept mum. His wife insisted that he should reveal his internal feelings to get rid of any unnecessary strains. The Brahman said, "I hear a strange voice every Saturday. It says that it wants to afflict the king. The duration of affliction will be either seven-and-a-half years or two-and-a-half years or two-and-a-half months or two-and-a-half days or at least for two-and-a-half prahar i.e., seven-and-a-half hours. The king can opt for any period but the affliction is a must."

The Brahman's wife smiled and said, "Why didn't you tell it earlier? The king must be saved even at our cost. You accept two-and-a-half 'prahars' affliction for you. The spirit again visited the palace and repeated the same message. The Brahman said, "I offer to take the king's affliction upon myself. You can be upon me for two-and-a-half prahars." The spirit was pleased at Brahman's offer. The Brahman went to a riverbank. He wanted to spend that time in meditation. He noticed two water-melons floating on the surface of water. He caught them by their tops and placed them under his thigh. The king's princes had been out for hunting for the last two days. They had not returned.

The king was in great agony. He sent his messengers in various directions for searching out the princes. Incidentally, a messenger came to the Brahman. To his great surprise, he saw that the Brahman was hiding the heads of the princes under his thigh. He reported the matter to the king. The king was enraged. He ordered that the Brahman be impaled or hanged. The king asked the Brahman what his last desire was. The Brahman said, "Please do not kill me for two-and-a-half prahars." The king agreed. As the stipulated time was over, arrangements for Brahman's end were made ready.

The Brahman was to be beheaded with a red hot iron spear. As the slaughter man attacked the Brahman, the hot spear got broken into pieces. The slaughter man now took a red hot silver spear. That spear too was broken into pieces before it touched the Brahman's neck. The slaughter man took out a red hot golden spear and tried to behead the Brahman. The third spear, too, did not have a different fate. The onlookers were surprised at the sight of such a miracle. Suddenly, the princes too, appeared at the scene. The king embraced the princes and felt sorry for the Brahman. The king said, "O, Brahman! What is this puzzle?" Reveal this mystery to one and all."

The Brahman said, "The Saturn wanted to afflict you. I took your affliction upon me to save you and the kingdom. The Saturn made the water melons appear as human heads. Now could I have killed the princes? I have always been a savior of this kingdom." The king said, "I don't believe your uttering. I want to see the Saturn myself. If you do not show me, all the members of your family will be crushed in the grinder." The Brahman began to tremble. He begged for a week's time. He went to his house. His wife said, "You look pale and horrified. What is the matter?" The Brahman said, "The Saturn wrought the affliction on me. I was saved because I acted according to your advice. Now, if I do not show Saturn to the king, all of us will be crushed under the grinder wheels."

The Brahman's wife said, "Have patience. You staked your life for a better cause. God will help us." The Brahman had a sigh of relief. His wife said, "Ask the king to get up early in the morning on the coming Saturday. Saturn will be riding a black horse under the black mountain. He will be covered with a black blanket, all soaked in oil. The king can have his glimpse." The Brahman took the king to the black mountain the next Saturday. A black shadow was riding a black horse. The king said, "Who are you?" The Saturn said, "I am Saturn. I afflict the poor as well as the kings alike." The king said, "How can we avoid your affliction?"

The Saturn said, "The rich should donate a black horse or one-and-a-quarter maunds of gold on Saturday. The middle-income group can donate iron and black blankets. The poor can give oil-touched loaf to a black dog. The still poorer can water a peepal tree, place some gur there and wrap the tree with a piece of kuchcha thread." The Brahman said, "Do not afflict our king. Your affliction on the king will affect our town. I can stand your afflictions on myself in the future also." The Saturn suddenly disappeared along with his black horse and the king returned to his palace. He was pleased with the Brahman. The Brahman's wife felt happy when the husband reported the whole happening to her.

Shanivar ki Kahani - II
This story is also related to Saturday fast. People eat parched grams on this day to keep off the influence of Saturn. They massage their bodies with mustard oil and also give oil in donation. Once, the seven gods, the lords of the seven days of the week, were having an exchange of wit for their amusement. Rahu and Ketu also joined the company. Rahu and Ketu posed a question, "Who is the most powerful God among us all?" They could not decide this issue by themselves. They went to Lord Indra for his adjudication. Lord Indra equally found himself in a fix. He thought if he gave the judgment in favor of one, others would be displeased with him.

He said, "Respected gods, I am just one among equals. How can I decide this complicated issue? I cannot give an impartial judgment. Better go to planet Earth. Vir Vikramaditya rules over there. He is very logical, judicious and righteous". Accordingly, they went to King Vikramaditya. King Vikramaditya gave due respect to them and begged for any service. They told him about their mission. Though it was a difficult task, Vikramaditya being a dutiful king, accepted it gracefully. Vikramaditya decided that he would not pronounce his verdict directly. He, therefore, arranged seven beautiful thrones.

These thrones were made of gold, silver, bronze, brass, tin, zinc, mica and iron respectively. The gold throne was placed at number one and the iron one at the end. Vikramaditya requested the seven gods to grace the throne of their own choice. Sun was in the gold chair while Saturn occupied the iron chair.

When the seven gods were in the chairs of their own choice, king Vikramaditya said, "You may please decide your own rank now according to the order to your throne. I have not thrust my judgment upon you". Saturn could see now through the clever judgment of Vikramaditya. He stood up and said, "King Vikramaditya, you have ranked me the lowest among the seven gods. You do not realize my power. Sun can stay on a zodiac or 'Rashi' for one month and two and a quarter part of a day, Mars for one and a half months and Jupiter for thirteen months. Mercury and Venus can reign a zodiac for one month only. The Rahu and Ketu move in opposite directions and pass through a zodiac in eighteen months only".

"It is only I who can reign a zodiac from two and a half years to seven and a half years. Even powerful gods tremble at my sight. When I was angry with Rama, he got exile instead of a throne. Ravana's family was destroyed by me when I ruled over his zodiac. Now be prepared. It is your turn". After a short time, an inauspicious period of seven and a half years was occupied by Saturn on king Vikramaditya's zodiac. He visited Vikramaditya's capital as a horse trader. He had very attractive black horses with him. When the king came to know about the strange horses, he sent for the Ashavapaal (groom) to buy the best horse for him. The groom selected one horse.

The king was so pleased to see the horse that he could not resist himself from riding it and giving it a kick. He had hardly gone on the horse for a few seconds when it disappeared in the air with a great speed. In no time, the king found himself all alone in a deep and thick forest. He loitered here and there, but of no avail. He then met a cowboy. The cowboy arranged some water for the king and helped him quench his thirst. The king gave him his golden ring. The king ultimately reached a nearby city and met a respectable businessman. The businessman felt pity on him and arranged food for him. He earned high profits by the grace of Saturn and took 'king' as a lucky visitor and kept him as a head cashier.

Next day, the businessman took him to his house. The 'king' saw a precious necklace hanging by a peg. To his great surprise, he saw the peg swallowing the necklace. He could not explain it to the businessman. The businessman took him for a thief and presented him before the court. The court ordered that the king's hands and feet be cut with one stroke of a sword. An executor carried out these orders. The 'king' was now without hands and feet. A 'Teli' (oil seed crusher) felt pity on him and brought him to his house. He dressed the 'king's' wounds and made him capable of driving the bullocks around the grinding machine with loud voice.

Time passed on. The inauspicious period of seven and a half years was about to be over. The 'king' thought of singing the Malhar Raga on a rainy day. His powerful voice broke the silence of the night. The princess was thrilled to hear the song in her bedroom. She got fascinated towards the singer. The princess sent her personal attendant to know about the singer. The attendant was told that the singer was a help to the Teli and without hands and feet. Even then she decided that she would marry that man or would remain unmarried throughout her life. She conveyed her decision to her parents. The parents resented the decision.

To register her protest, she put on ordinary clothes and moved to a special chamber or Kopa Bhawan and lay down on an ordinary carpet. The king and the queen ultimately bowed before the princess's decision and said, "If such is your fate, we are reconciled to it". The king sent for the Teli and said, "Arrange for the marriage of this handicapped help of yours with the princess". The Teli did not believe his ears and took it as a joke. The king resented his behavior and said, "Do not take it as a joke. This is our final decision". On an auspicious day, the princess's marriage with that handicapped person was solemnized. That was the last inauspicious day of the king.

It was a honeymoon night. At mid-night, the king had a small nap. Saturn visited the king in his dream and said, "You ranked me the lowest among the gods. You have undergone enough sufferings for your misjudgment". The king begged his pardon and said "Please do not inflict such sufferings in future on anyone as you have inflicted upon me". The Saturn accepted the king's request and disappeared. The king opened his eyes and, to his great surprise, found his hands and feet in proper shape. The princess's joy knew no bounds when she saw her husband in perfect shape. Next day, the king also felt as happier.

And when the king came to know that his son-in-law was no one else but king Vikramaditya himself, he was overwhelmed with joy and praised his stars. The businessman got this news and felt guilty over his behavior towards Vikramaditya. He invited him for dinner. King Vikramaditya said, "I shall dine in the same room where the peg swallowed your precious necklace." The businessman agreed and arranged the dinner in that room. When the invitees were dining, they saw to their great surprise that the precious necklace was slowly emerging from the same peg.

The businessman was so much overwhelmed at this sight that he, too, decided to marry off his daughter to Vikramaditya. King Vikramaditya returned to his kingdom. He and his two queens were received with full warmth by the subjects. The king asked his courtiers to make a proclamation by the beat of drum that Saturn is not less powerful than any other god and that they should keep fast on Saturday as a mark of honor of Saturn. Also, they should feed the ants, both in the morning and evening.

Shanivar ki Kahani - III
Once there were two sisters, Lakshmi and Daridra. Lakshmi was the goddess of wealth while Daridra was the goddess of poverty. Though they were real sisters, their behavior towards others and temperament was totally different. Lakshmi got up early in the morning. She took her bath regularly. She remembered God regularly. She took keen interest in her day-to-day work with a smiling face. She befriended everybody and worked till late at night. On the other hand, Daridra was very lazy. She got up very late. She did not take her bath. Washing clothes was a rare occasion for her. She was very discourteous. She was as much a flirt and unthoughtful. Cruelty and awe were natural to her. She generally told lies and befooled others. She was always hated by men in the street.

Goddess Lakshmi was very much liked by Lord Krishna and he married her happily. Daridra remained alone. She became sad. One day Lakshmi said to Lord Krishna, "My dear husband, Daridra is my real sister. She is alone. Now she is quite grown up. Please arrange for her marriage. The life of an unmarried woman is difficult in our society". Lord Krishna said, "My love, your worry is justified. But who will accept her in marriage? Her way of living is hated by one and all. She wears shabby clothes and loiters away her time. Even an ordinary man will not take her hand".

Lakshmi said, "Arrange her marriage with a Rishi. He would not expect much from her because most of his time he would be busy performing religious rites". Lord Krishna agreed. He searched for a suitable match for Daridra. A Rishi agreed to marry her. Most of the Rishi's disciples were away. He needed someone's help in performing the 'Yajna'. Goddess Lakshmi was happy that a Rishi had accepted her sister's hand. After performing her marriage, they returned to their kingdom. Daridra could not accept Rishi's way of life. She would get up late. She would not take her bath.

She would not care for the cleanliness of the Ashram. The Rishi was fed up with her indolence. He gave her up. Daridra was badly disappointed. She went to Lakshmi again. She looked very shabby and disorderly. Lakshmi felt pity for her. She said to Krishna, "Please arrange a suitable abode for her. A woman's life without a suitable abode is difficult. I knew that habits die hard but she has a right to live in this world". Lord Krishna accepted Lakshmi's request. All the three came down to earth together. Krishna spotted out a Peepal tree in a lonely corner. They went to that tree.

Lord Krishna said to Daridra, "You can reside under this tree. This is a lonely place suited to your temperament. You need not clean this place daily. None would visit this place either. You may live as you please". Daridra said, "I will be fed up with lonely life. Lonely place is an abode of ghosts. Please do visit me frequently with my sister, Lakshmi". Lord Krishna agreed. He gave a word to her that he would visit and stay at the Peepal tree on every Saturday along with Lakshmi. From that day onwards, people visit Peepal tree on every Saturday. They water it and offer their prayers, knowing well that Lord Krishna and Lakshmi reside in the tree on Saturdays.