Dussehra 2022: The Story Behind Shabari’s Half-Eaten Plums
Image Credit: Shabari ke ber were eaten by Lord Ram during his search for Sita.

From September 26, most Hindu households in many parts of North India are observing nine-day fasts. This special fasting period usually ends with kanjak, where young girls are fed a home-cooked meal of chana, halwa, and poori. On the 10th day, Dussehra is celebrated, which marks the victory of good over evil. But did you know about the one fruit that is linked to this festival?  It is ber (or the Indian plum).

Legend has it that Lord Ram was fed these bers by Shabari, a disciple of a sage. How did this happen? According to Hindu mythology, the story goes that Shabari was born in a hunter-gatherer family, but she was against meat-eating. After years of toiling in the household, she moved to the forest and took shelter at a sage’s ashram. The sage recognised her pure soul and dedication and blessed her with a happy life.

She was also given the boon of meeting Lord Ram, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, and serving him in this lifetime. Finally, when Lord Ram, along with Laxman, was searching for his wife, Sita, he stopped by at the humble abode of Shabari. In a hurry to serve him food, she grabbed a few wild fruits (ber) from the forest and placed it in front of him. In order to make sure that they were not poisonous, she took a bite of each of them and then offered them to Lord Ram.

Although Laxman was a little apprehensive about it, Lord Ram believed in the purity of her soul and ate them. This is how the half-eaten bers of Shabari came to be associated with the festival of Dussehra. For the unversed, ber is a plum that grows in India, and is known for its health-related benefits. Not only is it good for boosting immunity and providing the body with Vitamin C, it is also believed to reduce anxiety and stress. Some also associate the fruit as a harbinger of peace, uplifting you from the sorrows of life.

Be it a shake, a juice, smoothie or even fruit chaat, you can add ber to your diet in a lot of ways. Tangy pickles and chutneys can also be made with ber. So, which ber recipe are you planning to try, this Dussehra?