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   Religious Fasts
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Religious Fasts


(The devotees listen to this story before breaking Tuesday fast. Tuesday is devoted to Lord Hanuman. The devotees take saltless food and offer red sandal, red flowers and gur (jaggery) - mixed food to the deity. Plastering houses with cow dung is forbidden on this day. Vermilion mark is made on the forehead)

Once there lived an old lady. She worshipped her favourite deity, Mangal or Mars with full devotion. She kept fast on Tuesdays to propitiate the Mars.
His name was Mangal. He was incidentally born on Tuesday. She called him Mangalia out of love.

The lady never plastered her house with cowdung on Tuesdays and never dug earth on this auspicious day.

Once Lord Mars came to her house to fathom her faith in him. He was disguised as a sadhu. He knocked at the old woman's door. The woman came out and said, "What can I do for you?"

The sadhu said, "I am very hungry. I want to cook food for myself. Please besmear some portion of your kitchen to make room for my cooking. I shall be thankful to you."

The old lady said, "My Lord, I am on Tuesday fast. So I cannot besmear the kitchen. If you permit me I shall sprinkle some fresh water on the spot where you want to do cooking. You may cook your meals there."

The sadhu said, "I cook my food only on a besmeared spot" The old lady said, "Please let me know anything other than besmearing the kitchen. I am ready to do it.

The sadhu said, "Think thrice before you commit me a task. You will have to carry out my command."

The old lady said again, "My Lord, I shall abide by all your orders except for besmearing the spot."

The sadhu said, "Send for your son. Ask him to lie down on the ground. I will cook my meals upon your son's back."

The old lady was stunned to hear the sadhu's words. She kept mum. The sadhu said, "You have given me a word. Call your son immediately. Do not give further thought to your words."

The old woman called out for her son, "0! Mangalia, 0! dear Mangalia, come immediately. Serve the sadhu. Abide by his commands because I have given him a word."

The son was playing in a nearby lane. He heard his mother's call. He came running and asked for her orders.

The old lady said, "Go to that sadhu and obey his orders."

The boy went to the sadhu and said, "I am at your command. Order me."

The sadhu said, "Go and come with your mother."

The old lady came to the sadhu. The sadhu said, "Help your son lie down on the ground."

The old lady brought image of Lord Mars before her mind's eyes and made her son lie up side down on the ground. She then placed the hearth on her son's back with her own hands and, said, "My Lord, cook your meals as you like. I am going to do some other household work."

The sadhu lit the hearth on the boy's back and cooked his meals.

When the meals were ready, the sadhu said to the old lady, "Give a call to your son. Let him have his share of meals."

The old lady said, "This is a wonder. You cooked your food on his back. How can he be called now? Is it possible that he is alive? Please do not ask me to think of him again. Take. this food yourself and bid goodbye to this house."

The sadhu insisted that the lady should call her son for taking his share of food as a blessing from him. The old lady agreed and said, "Oh! Mangalia, dear Mangalia, this sadhu wants to offer you some part of food he cooked on your back. Come wherever you are."

The old lady had hardly called her son when Mangal came running. The sadhu gave him some food as a token of his blessings. He then said to the lady, "Your Tuesday fast has attained perfection. It has borne fruit. You are a kind lady. You have unshakable faith in your favourite deity. You will never face any difficulty in your life."

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