Vietnamese legends: “The legend of the rice grains”

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“The legend of the rice grains”

Once upon a time, a widow and her young child lived together in a little house. The woman took great care of her child, cosseted him, worked hard to raise him and expected filial piety in return. She always saved the better portions of food for her son. However, the  spoiled son became apathetic to his mother. One day the mother fell ill and was unlikely to live. She summoned her son and told him that on the day she died, there would be a little grain of gold near her bed. She asked him to put it in a pot, soak it in water and dedicate it to the king in exchange for an abundance of silver and gold. Afterwards the mother passed away. The son followed his mother’s advice. He saw a gold grain by her bed, then put it in a pot, soaked it and traveled to the court to exchange it for silver and gold.

 

The journey from his home to the court took seven months and he ran out of food. Hungry and thirsty, with no money left, he begged for food and stayed overnight in strangers’ houses. Through all the hardship, he realized how his mother had toiled to bring him up. He was deeply sorry for his lack of filial piety and stubbornness.

At the entrance of the court palace, a miracle happened. A heavy grass rose from the pot, bringing forth golden grains and a tender aroma. Once cooked, the grains tasted quite buttery.

In memory of his mother and her immense affection, the son decided not to dedicate these grains to the king, and instead distributed them to his fellow countrymen to grow and consume. That is how rice came to be.

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