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The Bonga's Victim

Category: Part IV

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time there were seven brothers and they had one
sister. Every day they used to go out hunting leaving their wives
and sister at home. One very hot day they had been hunting since dawn
and began to feel very thirsty; so they searched for water but could
find none. Then one of them climbed a tree and from its summit saw a
beautiful pool of water close by: so he came down and they all went in
the direction in which he had seen the water; but they could not find
it anywhere; so another of the brothers climbed a tree and he called
out that he could see the pool close by, but when he came down and led
them in what he thought was the right direction he was equally unable
to find the water; and so it went on; whenever they climbed a tree
they could see the water close by, but when on the ground they could
not find it; and all the time they were suffering tortures from thirst.

Then they saw that some bonga was deluding them and that they must
offer some sacrifice to appease him.

At first they proposed to devote one of their wives to the bonga;
but not one of the brothers was willing that his wife should be the
victim; and they had no children to offer so at last they decided to
dedicate their only sister as the sacrifice. Then they prayed "Ye who
are keeping the water from us, listen; we dedicate to you our only
sister; show us where the water is." No sooner had they said this
than they saw a pool of water close beside them and hastened to it
and quenched their thirst. Then they rested and began to discuss how
they should sacrifice their sister; and at last they decided that
as they had devoted her to the bonga because they wanted water,
it would be best to cast her into the water; and they planned to go
and work one day near a pond of theirs and make their sister bring
their breakfast out to them and then drown her.

So they went home and two or three days later the eldest brother
said that the time had come for the sacrifice; but the two youngest
loved their sister very much and begged for a little delay. Out of
pity the others agreed; but almost at once one of the brothers fell
ill and was like to die. Medicines were tried but had no effect;
then they called in an ojha and he told them that the bonga to
whom they had made the vow while out hunting had caused the illness
and that if they did not fulfil the vow their brother would die. Then
they all went to the sick man's bedside and poured out water on the
ground and swore that they would fulfil their vow; no sooner had they
done so than the sick man was restored to health.

So the very next day they arranged to go and level the field near
their pond and they told their wives to send their sister to them with
their breakfast. When the time came the girl took out their breakfast
and put it down by them and they sent her to draw water for them from
the pond but when she put her water pot down to the surface it would
not sink so as to let the water run in. The girl called out to her
brothers that the pot would not fill; they told her to go a little
further into the water; so she went in till the water was up to her
thighs but still the pot would not fill: then they called to her
to go in further and she went in waist deep but still it would not
fill; then she went in up to her neck and still it would not fill;
then she went in a little further and the water closed over her and
she was drowned. At this sight the brothers threw away the food which
she had brought and hastened home.

Some days later the body rose and floated to the bank and at the place
where it lay a bamboo sprang up and grew and flourished. One day a
Dome went to cut it down to make a flute of; as he raised his axe
the voice of the girl spoke from within the bamboo "O Dome, do not
cut high up; cut low down." The Dome looked about but could not see
who it was who spoke; however he obeyed the voice and cut the bamboo
close to the ground and made a flute of it. The sound of the flute
was surpassingly sweet and the Dome used to play on it every day. One
day he was playing on it at a friend's house and a Santal heard it
and was so taken by its sweet tone that he came at night and stole it.

Having got possession of it he used to play on it constantly and
always keep it by him. Every night the flute became a woman and the
Santal found her in his house without knowing where she came from and
used to spend the night talking to her but towards morning she used
to go outside the house on some pretext and disappear. But one night
as she was about to depart the Santal seized her and forced her to
stay with him. Then she retained her human form but the flute was
never seen afterwards; so they called the girl the Flute girl and
she and the Santal were betrothed and soon afterwards married.

Next: Baijal And The Bonga

Previous: The Bonga's Cave

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