Story Power author Kate Farrell has written a new blog post on the ancient Persia fairy tale “Pumpkin Cinderella”, take a look!
It’s that time of the year to celebrate pumpkins in all shapes and sizes. Even so, have you ever heard of a Pumpkin Cinderella? You probably know about the carriage that took the Disney Cinderella to the ball was really a magic pumpkin. But in this enchanting fairytale from ancient Persia, the astonishing pumpkin itself is the unlikely heroine who is beleaguered and bullied. Here is her untold tale.
The Pumpkin Child
Many years ago a wife and her husband lived in a small house in Persia. The woman longed for a daughter and cried out, “I want a little girl! I don’t care if she looks like a pumpkin!”
Oh-oh…guess what happened?
Soon a beautiful girl child was born, but one day the mother went to the cradle and found a pumpkin instead. The scared husband ran away, but the mother felt sorry for the little pumpkin and lovingly raised it.
Finally, when the pumpkin was too big to carry, the girl pumpkin rolled around the house and bumped out onto the street. All the neighbors pointed and snickered.
When the pumpkin was older, the mother sent her off to the girls’ school in town. She kissed the pumpkin, “Be good, darling. Ignore anyone who makes fun of you!” So off the pumpkin rolled to school.
Next to the school a rich merchant’s son, Murad, looked out his father’s windows each day, watching the girls in the school courtyard. He spied the fat pumpkin rolling around. “That’s strange,” he thought, “what’s a pumpkin doing there?”
Murad saw that the pumpkin rolled off by itself during lunch periods. He secretly watched the pumpkin as it hid under a bush. A small door opened in the pumpkin shell and out stepped a beautiful young girl. She climbed up a grapevine, picking luscious grapes for her meal, then she re-entered the pumpkin and SLAM! the door closed.
Murad fell crazily in love with the girl. One day he leaned over the edge of his father’s roof, grabbing the girl’s hand as she reached the top of the grapevine. She quickly withdrew her hand, hurried down the vine, disappearing inside her pumpkin, and rolled back to the courtyard.
Murad discovered that the girl’s ring had slipped off her middle finger into his hand. He declared to everyone, “I will marry the girl who can wear this ring on her middle finger — and I will marry no other!”
His mother was thrilled that Murad had finally agreed to marry anyone. She sent her servant, Nana, to the village. “Find the girl whose middle finger fits this ring. Then bring her home as a bride for Murad!” Off went old Nana, house to house, searching for the perfect finger of the perfect girl.
The village girls all either starved themselves to get thin fingers or stuffed themselves to fatten them up. But not one single finger fit inside that ring just right.
At last, Nana came to the house of the pumpkin child. The good mother cried, “Don’t you dare laugh at me! I wanted a daughter too badly, the Fates sent me a pumpkin instead.”
Nana insisted on seeing the pumpkin up close. Much to everyone’s surprise, a delicate, slender hand poked out of the side of the pumpkin, and the ring slid onto the middle finger perfectly.
Nana ran to the merchant’s house with the news. “What? Our son can’t marry a PUMPKIN!” they declared. But Murad insisted, “The ring fits; I shall marry the pumpkin!” Everyone in the village roared with laughter, but the wedding took place anyway.
After the ceremony, Murad took his pumpkin bride far away where he cared for her and never allowed anyone to laugh at her. One night, the door of the pumpkin opened and the beautiful girl stepped out. “How can this be?” cried a delighted Murad. She smiled, “Your love has set me free. Only because you loved me as a pumpkin could the spell be broken.”
And so they lived together happily for a very long time.
Source: Based on the version by Anne Sinclair Mehdevi collected in Persian Folk and Fairy Tales, 1966.
Note: The Cinderella-like story based on “Kadou Ghel Gheleh Zan” was told in Farsi for hundreds of years.
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