Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission | Annotated Tale

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Story of Sindura Gand Garur, The

IN A certain village there lived a mother and her son. The boy tended goats in the forest. One day he found a spot of ground, where he thought rice would grow well. So he went home, and asked his mother to give him some seed to sow there. She said, "If you sow rice there it will all be destroyed. The elephants, or the wild jungle cattle, will eat it." But he begged so hard that at length she gave him some seed rice, which he sowed on the small plot of ground in the jungle. It sprang up and grew luxuriantly. Every day he drove his goats there, and spent the long hours in driving the birds and insects away from his little farm.

               When the rice had grown to a good height the raja's son with his companion came and set up a mark near by at which they shot with their bows and arrows. The orphan boy was asked to join them, which he did, and so accurate was his aim, that he hit the mark every time he shot. The raja's son and his companion were astonished to see such good shooting, and they said, "The fatherless boy hits the mark every time."

               The boy ran home to his mother weeping, and said, "Oh! mother, where is my father?" To keep him from grieving, she told a lie. "Your father," she said, "has gone on a visit to his relations."

               The next day after he had again shown great skill with the bow and arrow the raja's son and his companion said, "The fatherless boy hits the mark every time." Hearing this he again went home weeping, and said to his mother, "Oh! mother, where is my father?" She replied, "He has gone to visit his friends." Every day the boy came crying to his mother asking where his father was, so at last she told him. She said, "Your father, child, was carried away on the horns of a Gand Garur [1]."

               The boy then said to his mother, "Prepare me some flour. I will go in search of him." His mother tried to dissuade him, saying, "Where can you go in such a jungle as this?" He, however, insisted, and she prepared flour for him, and he set out.

               After travelling many hours he entered the primeval forest, and presently darkness came upon him. After a short time he came to the dwelling of Huti [2] Budhi, and requested permission to pass the night there. This was accorded to him, and he lay down and fell asleep. During the night he was awakened by the Huti Budhi eating his bow and arrows. He called out to her "Oh! old woman, What have you been nibbling at since evening?" The Huti Budhi replied, "It is only some roasted grain, which I brought a while ago from the house of the Chief."

               In a short time the nibbling sound was again heard, and he again enquired what she was eating. She returned the same answer as before. "Oh! my son, it is only roasted grain which the chief's people gave me." He did not know that all the time she was eating his bow and arrows.

               When morning dawned he requested her to give him his weapons, and on his attempting to string the bow it broke in his hands. The Huti Budhi had eaten the heart out of the wood, and had left only the outer shell. He left her house planning revenge.

               During the day he had an iron bow and iron arrows made. All was iron like the arrow heads. In the evening he returned to sleep at the Huti Budhi's house.

               During the night he heard the Huti Budhi trying to nibble his bow and arrows. So he enquired what she was doing. The answer she gave was, "Do you think the Huti Budhi can eat iron."

               When morning dawned he demanded his bow and arrows, and received them uninjured, but the lower part of the Huti Budhi's face was all swollen. She had been trying to eat the iron bow and arrows. Her lodger strung his bow, and having saluted her, went his way.

               As he journeyed he entered another unexplored forest in the midst of which he discovered a lake, to which all the birds and beasts resorted to quench their thirst. He obtained this information by an examination of its banks, on which he saw the footprints of the various beasts and birds. He now took some flour from his bag, and having moistened it with water made a hearty meal, and then sat down to wait for evening.

               As the sun went down the denizens of the forest began to come to the lake to drink. They came in quick succession, and as each made its appearance, he sang assurance to it, that he harboured no evil design against it.

               The quail led the way, and to it he sang,

"Oh! quail, you need not fear to drink,       
I'll not harm you, I you assure;        
But I will slay on this lake's brink,         
Cruel Sindura Gand Garur.

                He sang in a similar strain to each bird as it came, naming it by its name.

               At length the Gand Garur alighted on the edge of the lake to drink, and he at once drew his bow, and sent an arrow to its heart, for he had seen the dried and shrivelled corpse of his father still adhering to its horns. The Gand Garur being dead, he detached what remained of his parent's body from its horns, and taking it in his arms pressed it to his bosom and wept bitterly.

               As he wept, Bidi and Bidhati descended from the sky and asked him the reason of his sorrow. So he told them all. They spoke words of comfort to him, and said, "Dip your gamcha cloth in the lake, and cover the corpse with it. And don't you cry, rather bathe and cook some food. And do not cook for one only, but prepare portions for two. And when the food is ready, you partake of one portion, and set the other aside. Then tap your father on the back and say, 'Rise father, here is your food.'" He did as his kind friends bade him, and the dead came to life again. The father sat up and said, "Oh! my son, what a lengthened sleep I have had." The son replied, "A sleep? you must be demented, you were pierced through by the horns of the Gand Garur, and your dried carcase was adhering to them. See I have killed it. It is lying here. Bidi and Bidhati instructed me how to proceed, and I have brought you to life again.

               So they returned joyfully home singing the praises of Bidi and Bidhati.



[1] A mythical bird which figures largely in Indian folk lore.

[2] Huti is the name given by Santals to a certain timber boring insect. Budhi is an old woman.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Story of Sindura Gand Garur, The
Tale Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Book Title: Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission
Book Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Publisher: Santal Mission Press
Publication City: Pokhuria
Year of Publication: 1891
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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