Manasa Mangal

Sung by Snehalata Chitrakar

Sung by Mayna Chitrakar

Title: Jamuna Mangal
Artist: Jamuna Chitrakar
Dimensions (cm): 348 x 56 (left); 273 x 56(right)



Jai Manasa, the fairest one, Jai Bishahari (the remover of poison), Manasagoddess worshiped especially in Bengal and other parts of north-eastern India. She is a goddess of snakes and their poisons., the virgin, who was born in a lotus. Her ornamental bed was made of snakes; so was her throne. Mangalathe planet Mars, identified with Kartikeya, the god of war; son of Shiva and the Earth, and as son of the Earth he is also called Mahisuta, seated on the back of Bararisnake of Manasa, her vehicle. The merchant (Chand Sadagar) threatens and roars, twisting his beard, with a hental (hard wood) stick on his shoulder. “If fate allows me to get access to you (Manasa) I’ll chop you to pieces.”

Manasa heard the abuse herself and conspired to kill the six sons of Chand. Their wives became widows, all six of them. They couldn’t have any children. But he said he had his youngest son, the rare treasure—Lakhindar. He decided to go to Nichhani Nagar to marry him to Behula the dancer, the daughter of Amulya Benani (merchant). Old Janardan went there to negotiate and fixed the marriage. Lakhindar went in a palanquin to wed with a retinue of carriers.

Chand had arranged a wedding room made of iron where Lakhindar went to sleep, tired out. Kalinat (Kal nagini—the black deadly snake) entered, as fine as thread. Watching the beauty of Lakhindar, she started to wonder how and where to bite him on his golden body. What excuse could she give when the gods asked her?

Invoking the Sun and the Moon as witnesses, she bit him. Lakhindar woke up burning with poison and called his wife—”wake up o daughter of Sai Bene. You are sleeping like the dead and I’m bitten by kal (Time—death).” The girl had been up all night. She recognized the snake and threw a betel nut cracker at her which sliced away 2.5 finger width from her tail. The snake escaped, wriggling in pain. The servant with the shaved head went running to Chand.

“Your son is dead Sir.”

The old man started dancing—”good, good. Now all my sons are dead. When will it be morning? I’ll have burnt fish with stale rice (panta bhatrice cooked the day before and eaten cold the day of particular Hindu festivals when fire cannot be lit).”

(Behula tells him) “O father in law, May you be hit by a thunderclap. Why did you have to fight with Manasa, of all the goddesses? You gave me my sankha conch shell, bracelet, or necklace. and sindurred vermillion powder worn on the forehead and the sinthee, the parting of the hair, by married women as an auspicious item.. Now take them back.” Behula chopped a banana trunk into three, fixed the pieces with bamboo nails and floated away on the banana raft with Lakhindar’s body. It floated some distance. Then her six brothers came to her and said—”why are you floating with a rotting corpse? Come back home darling sister. We’ll have our wives serve you.”

“I no longer belong to the parental home o brothers,” she answered. “I don’t care to fight with my sisters in law all the time.” Consoling her brothers, she left.