Living in a foreign country involves meeting interesting people and learning interesting stories and cultures. Recently, I came to across such an interesting story. It’s the legend of Saint George and the dragon.
There was a dragon living in a lake in the country-side of a kingdom. It was venom-spewing. To prevent it from affecting the city, the people made a pact with it, that they will offer two sheep to it daily. The dragon was content for some time but then demanded more. So the residents started offering themselves. Which was chosen by lottery. One time the lot fell on the king’s daughter. The king offered all his gold and silver to have his daughter spared, but the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, to be fed to the dragon. Saint George, dressed in shining armour, riding a white horse, suddenly appeared to rescue her. Saint George raised his sword and stabbed the dragon, at last releasing the princess and the citizens from this turmoil. From the dragon’s blood a rose-bush grew with the reddest roses that had ever been seen. Saint George, now a hero picked a rose and offered it to the princess. 23rd April is celebrated as St. George Day in many European countries like England, Greece, Spain and Portugal. In Spain, on this day usually men offer Rose to women, usually their beloved one and in return women offer a book to men.
For many reading this blog, the story may seem familiar. It is very similar to the story of Bhima and Bakasura from the Epic Mahabharata. The story is, during their 13 years of exile, the Pandavas were once living with a Family in a village. There was a demon who lived near the village, and he was called Bakasura. He would plunder the village, take away their cattle, foods and also the people. To protect themselves, the villagers made an agreement with Bakasura. Every week one person would take a cartload of food to him, and he would eat the food as well as the person. Every family of the village would take turns to send one member every week. One week it was the turn of the family that was hosting the Pandavas. The Pandavas said to the family that since they were such nice host, it is the responsibility of the Pandavas to volunteer one of them for the task. Bhima was chosen for the task. He took the cartload of food to Bakasura. But ever hungry Bhim ate all the food. This angered Bakasura and he attacked Bhima. But Bhima had the strength of 1000 Elephants. So after a ferocious duel Bhim killed Bakasura and freed the village from the oppression of the demon.
Some may say that the legend of St. George is stolen from India and some may say that it is to install catholic values. For me, when I heard of the legend of St. George, I was intrigued how legends in such far lands are so similar.