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   Religious Fasts
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Religious Fasts

(Shukra's Idol)

Once there was an old woman. She used to observe Friday fasts regularly. She worshipped Shukra's idol. She gave holy dips to the idol and offered best food to it as 'bhoga'.

One day she decided to go on a pilgrimage. But how could she leave the house? Who would give holy dips to Shukra's idol? Who would offer 'bhoga' to it?

She conveyed her anxiety to her son's wife. Her son's wife; that is her daughter-in-law was not a religious lady. She wanted to get rid of her mother-in-law for some time. She agreed to worship Shukra's idol in her absence.
The old lady felt happy and left on the pilgrimage. Her daughter-in-law being what she was, after taking her bath would squeeze a few drops of water from her wet saree and considered it as a dip for the idol. She would prepare best dishes in her mother-in-law's absence and place some crumbs or remains before the idol as 'bhoga’. Even this was heavy for her.

One day she decided to get rid of the idol. She put it in a waste paper basket and threw it on a heap of garbage.

A wise lady passed by. She noticed Shukra's bright idol lying on the garbage. She picked it up with great respect and brought it to her house. She gave it holy dips and offered best 'bhoga'. She also observed fast in the name of Shukra. The lady became very rich. On the other hand, the old woman's family became poorer and poorer. The family could hardly make both ends meet.

The old lady returned from her pilgrimage. She noticed the changed conditions of the family. She asked the daughter-in-law, "Where is the Shukra's idol?" The daughter-in-law kept mum. She repeated the question, but the lady would not speak. She repeated her question for the third time. The daughter-in-law replied, "I was fed up with Shukra's worship. I had no time to spare. I threw it on a heap of garbage some weeks ago."

The old lady was astonished at the reply. She went to the garbage heap and searched for the idol, but had to return disappointed. She decided to go from door to door to enquire about it.

She knocked at the door of a rich lady and said, "Have you seen my Shukra's idol?"

The rich lady gazed at her from head to foot and said, "Are you insane? Why did you throw the idol on the garbage? You have no regards for deities. You should be punished for it."

The old lady narrated the whole story to the rich lady and felt sorry for her daughter-in-law. The rich lady said, "If it is so I shall return the idol to you". Lord Shukra has blessed me with health and wealth. I do not want to keep others' things with me. Take back this idol with full respect."

The old lady brought back the idol and placed it at the worshipping dias. She observed Shukra's fasts as a penance. Lord Shukra again blessed them with health and wealth. The family enjoyed a happy life again thereafter.

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