Kora And His Sister
Category: Part I.
Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas
There were once seven brothers and they had one sister who was the
youngest of the family. The six eldest brothers were married but no
wife had been found for the youngest; for three years enquiries were
made to try and find a suitable bride for him, but all in vain. At last
the young man, whose name was Kora, told his parents and brothers not
to trouble any more, as he would find a wife for himself; he intended
to bring a flowering plant from the forest and plant it by the stand
on which the watering pots were kept, and then he would marry any
maiden who picked one of the flowers and put it in her hair.
His father and mother approved of this proposal, so the next day he
brought some sort of flowering plant and planted it by the water-pot
stand. He charged all his family to be most careful that no one
of his own relations picked the flower and also to warn any of the
village girls who wanted to pick it, that if she did so and put it
in her hair, she would thereby become his wife; but if, knowing this,
anyone wished to do so, they were not to prevent her.
The neighbours soon got to hear what the plant meant and used often
to come and look at it, and Kora watched it growing, till after
a time it produced a bud and then a beautiful and sweet-scented
flower. All the village girls came to see the beautiful flower;
and one day Kora's sister when she went to the water-stand to get
some water to drink, caught hold of it and longed to pick it, it
looked so pretty. Her mother saw what she was doing and scolded her
for touching the forbidden flower, but the girl begged to see what
it would look like in her hair; there could be no harm done if she
pulled the whole plant up by its roots and put it in her hair and
then replanted it; no one would know what had happened. In spite of
her mother's remonstrances she insisted on doing this and having seen
how the flower looked in her hair carefully replarited it.
Soon afterwards Kora came home and went to see his flower; he knew
at once that some one had worn it and called to his mother and asked
who it was. She protested that she knew nothing about the matter,
but Kora said that he could tell by the smell that it had been
worn and then he showed that there was also a hair sticking to the
flower. Then his mother admitted that in spite of all she could say,
his sister had worn the flower and planted it again in the ground.
When she saw that she was found out, the girl began to cry, but her
father said that it was clearly fated that she and Kora should matry
and this was the reason why they had been unable to find any other
bride; so they must now arrange for the wedding. Accordingly rice was
got ready and all the usual preparations made for a marriage. The
unfortunate girl saw that flight was her only means of escape from
such a fate, so one day she ran away; all she took with her was a
For many days she travelled on and one day she stopped by a pool
to bathe and as she rubbed her limbs she collected the scurf that
she rubbed off her skin and put in on the ground in one place; then
she went on with her bathing; but at the place where she had put the
scurf of her skin, a palm tree sprang up and grew so rapidly, that,
by the time she came out of the water, it had become a large tree.
The girl was struck by this strange sight and at once thought that
the tree would afford her a safe refuge; so she climbed up it with
her parrot in her hand and when safely seated among the leaves she
begged the palm tree to grow so tall that no one would be able to find
her, and the tree grew till it reached an unusual height. So the girl
stayed in the tree top and the parrot used to go every day and bring
her food. Meanwhile her parents and brothers searched high and low
for her for two or three days, for the wedding day was close at hand,
but their search was of course in vain; and they concluded that the
girl must have drowned herself in some river.
Time passed and one day at noon, a Mahuli girl, who was taking her
basket-ware to market, stopped to rest in the shade of the palm tree:
and as she sat there, Kora's sister called to her from the top of
the tree and asked her to give her a small winnowing fan in exchange
for a bracelet The Mahuli girl told her to throw the bracelet down
first. Kora's sister made no objection to this, and when she had got
the bracelet, the Mahuli girl threw up a winnowing fan which soared
right up to where Kora's sister was sitting. Before the Mahuli girl
went on her way, Kora's sister made her promise never to let anyone
see the bracelet whew she went about selling her baskets as otherwise
it would be stolen from her; and secondly on no account to let it be
known that there was anyone in the palm tree, on pain of death. The
Mahuli girl kept her promise and whenever she went out selling baskets
she used to keep her bracelet covered with her cloth.
One day it chanced that she went to the house where Kora lived to sell
her wares and they asked her why it was that she kept her arm covered;
she told them that she had a sore on it; they wanted to see how big
the sore was, but she refused to show it, saying that if she showed
it she would die. They laughed at such a ridiculous story and at last
forced her to show her arm, which of course was quite well; but they at
once recognised the bracelet and asked where she had got it from. The
Mahuli girl refused to tell them and said that if she did, she would
die. "What a foolish girl you are" they objected "first you say you
will die if you show us your arm and then if you tell us where you
got this bracelet from; it belonged to our daughter whom we have lost,
and so you must tell us! Come, we will give you a basket full of rice
if you tell us." The Mahuli girl could not resist this offer, and when
the basket of rice was produced, she told them where the palm tree was,
in which Kora's sister was hiding. In all haste the father and mother
went to the tree and found that it was much too high for them to climb:
so they begged their daughter to come down and promised not to marry
her to her brother; but she would not come down: then they sang:--
"You have made a palm tree from the scrapings of your skin
And have climbed up into it, daughter!
Come daughter, come down."
But she only answered:--
"Father and mother, why do you cry?
I must spend my life here:
"Do you return home."
So they went home in despair.
Then her sisters-in-law came in their turn and sang:--
"Palm tree, palm tree, give us back our sister:
The brother and sister have got to be married."
But she would not answer them nor come down from the tree, so they
had to go home without her.
Then all her other relations came and besought her to come down,
but she would not listen to them. So they went away and invoked a
storm to come to their aid. And a storm arose and cold rain fell,
till the girl in the palm tree was soaked and shivering, and the
wind blew and swayed the palm tree so that its top kept touching the
ground. At last she could bear the cold and wet no more and, seizing
an opportunity when the tree touched the ground, she slipped off. Her
relations had made all the villagers promise on no account to let
her into their houses; so when she went into the village and called
out at house after house no one answered her or opened to her. Then
she went to her own home and there also they refused to open to her.
But Kora had lit a big fire in the cow house and sat by it warming
himself, knowing that the girl would have to come to him; and as she
could find no shelter elsewhere she had to go to his fire, and then
she sat and warmed herself and thought "I fled for fear of this man
and now I have come back to him; this is the end, I can no longer stay
in this world; the people will not even let me into their houses. I
have no wish to see them again."
So she sat and thought, and when she was warmed, she lay down by
the side of Kora; and he wore tied to his waist a nail-cutter; she
unfastened this and cut her throat with it as she lay. Her death
struggles aroused Kora, and he got up and saw the ground covered with
her blood and he saw that she had killed herself with his nail-cutter;
then he took counsel with himself and also cut his throat in the same
way. In the morning the two corpses were found lying side by side,
and it was seen that their blood refused to mingle but had flowed in
So they took the bodies away to burn them and laid them on one pyre;
and when the fire was lit, it was seen that the smoke from the two
bodies rose separately into the air. Then all who saw it, said "We
wished to marry brother and sister but Chando would not approve of it;
see how their blood would not mingle though spilt on the same floor,
and how the smoke from the pyre rises in two separate columns; it is
plain that the marriage of brother and sister is wrong." From that
time such manages have been discontinued.
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