Photo: June 2015. Booklet purchased 2012, Butala Emporium, Jackson Heights, NY.
ਬੁਧਵਾਰ ਵਰਤ ਕਥਾ , Budhwar Vrat Katha. I have a small collection of Hindu religious booklets that I’ve collected from South Asian groceries here in the U.S., and while I lived in England. This colorful, eye-catching example is Punjabi, written in Gurmukhi script. I love the horizontal format of these books, based on the traditional dimensions of manuscripts whose loose sheets are flipped forward while a seated priest reads.* In this stapled and very portable modern version is printed using a very standard Gurmukhi typeface, and the decorative border is comprised of snowflake dingbats!
So what is Budhwar Vrat Katha? Budhwar is the name for Wednesday, and Budh is the name of the planet Mercury. Vrat means fast (as in food, not speed!), and Katha is a didactic story. This booklet is a guide on how to observe the Wednesday fast dedicated to Lord Budha (not to be confused with Buddha), Ganesh, and other deities that are believed to bring prosperity, wealth, and wisdom to devotees. I’ve found an English translation of a Budhwar Vrat Katha here. Though I’m not religious, I find the rituals and artifacts of Hinduism (and other faiths) fascinating.
* I will also assume that the horizontal format of North Indian paper manuscripts are directly derived from the very old palm leaf manuscript format used in South India. Anyone who wants to confirm or refute this, please comment! 🙂 I have done much more research on S. Indian mss. than Northern.