Ram and the berries

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 56
Occupation: Corporate Manager
Residence: Pune, India
Date of Performance/Collection: April 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Piece

    On one day of Ram’s exile, he was approached by a woman who was a big devotee of him. She has a beautiful- you know- pure love for him because he had this persona of a warm, loving, kind, wonderful person. 

    So… what she did is… she told Ram that she wanted to host him and give him some fruits that she collected. Seeing the warmth in her eyes, Ram said that he would love to eat in her house. At the house, she had three plates of berries, one for Ram, one for Sita, and one for Laxman. They sat down and started eating. Ram was very happy because all the berries were sweet. The berries were the berr berries you know? This- those berries are either sweet- or sour, red or white but you can’t tell from outside. So he was eating the berries and all of them were sweet. 

But in the middle, he noticed there was a small bite taken from each of the berries. He asked the woman what these bites were so- and she said that she had taken a bite from each berry to make sure that it was sweet for him. Ram laughed and happily ate all the berries. 

Background

    This story is a small sub story from the ancient epic, The Ramayana, which is one of the ancient holy stories about Ram, the 7th avatar of Vishnu. There is a complex backstory for Ram involving being exiled from his own kingdom with his wife and his brother. The story is a classic hero’s journey tale in Hindu mythology and many sub stories have emerged in the folklore of the Indian people. 

Context
    My mother told me this story over the phone after I asked her about stories she would tell my brother and I as children. 

Thoughts

This was a story that my mother would often tell me when I would be grossed out by eating the same food that my brother or my father had eaten. I honestly don’t know if this story is included in the ancient story or if it is a story that my mother’s ancestors might have made up to get naughty children to eat food that has already been touched.

This story teaches us not only to respect everyone and appreciate their gestures, but also to be free and generous with our love and devotion to a good person.