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Behula


Behula legendary folk heroine and one of the main characters of manasamangal. Under a curse, Aniruddha and Usa were sent to earth as Lakhindar, youngest son of Chand Saodagar of Champaknagar and Behula, daughter of Sayven of Ujaninagar. Behula grew up to be a beautiful and intelligent woman and was married to Lakhindar. Chand Saodagar, a devotee of shiva, had boasted that he was cleverer and stronger than manasa, the snake goddess. He built an iron chamber for Lakhindar, believing it to be impregnable. However on the wedding night of Behula and Lakhindar, Manasa sent a snake to kill Lakhindar. The snake made itself as fine as a strand of hair and, entering the chamber through a minute hole, bit Lakhindar.

Behula refused to accept her husband's death. She placed her husband's corpse on a banana raft and set out on a hazardous journey towards the abode of the gods. Despite all the dangers and temptations she encountered, Behula steadfastly continued her journey and finally succeeded in reaching the abode of the gods. She pleaded for her husband's life and promised Manasa that Chand Saodagar would worship her. Moved by Behula's love for her husband, manasa not only restored Lakhindar but also his brothers whom she had killed earlier.

Behula returned home with her husband and brothers-in-law, and Chand Saodagar finally bowed before the might of Manasa. Lakhindar and Behula then returned to their heavenly abode as Aniruddha and Usa.

Behula represents an exemplary Bengali woman. She not only personifies the Bengali woman's traditional love for her husband, but also her strength and courage. [Sambaru Chandra Mohanta]