Myths, Legends and Folklore of the ‘Seven Sisters’ of North East India: Meghalaya

25 12 2009

Meghalaya, a Sanskrit word meaning “the abode of clouds”, is endowed with a rich variety of flora and fauna. Of about 17,000 species of orchids in the world, around 3000 varieties are found in Meghalaya. A botanical wonder, the pitcher plant, an insect eating plant is found in the district of Jaintia hills, West Khasi hills and South Garo hills of the state.

Today I present to you a heart-rendering and emotional story of a mother’s love for her child.

A young woman called Ka Likai lived with her husband and baby in the village of Langjiriteh. When her husband died, Ka Likai’s entire attention was on her child.

She found it really tough to earn enough and married again to take care of her child. Her new husband, though, was selfish and brutal. He was jealous of his step-daughter because his wife paid her more attention. When he found out that Ka Likai had married him so that it would be easier for her to take care of the child, he was determined to harm her. He refused to go out to work, but forced his wife to go everyday. When she was not at home he bullied and ill-treated the child.

One day Ka Likai had to go on a long journey. This gave the step-father an opportunity and he killed his step-daughter. When Ka Likai returned, she was surprised to find her husband in a better mood. She noticed the child’s absence and asked about her. But the husband answered that she was playing and dispelled the mother’s misgivings. She sat down to eat without any suspicion of evil doing.

After Ka Likai had her supper, she took out the betel-nut basket to prepare betel to chew after the meal, as was the custom of the land. It so happened that the murdered child had been left in this basket which the mother saw. She wildly demanded to know the meaning of this awful discovery, whereupon the husband confessed his crime.

The terrible and overwhelming revelation came as an immense shock to the mother. She was stunned with grief and disbelief. She rose from the seat, ran to the edge of the precipice and threw herself into the abyss. Her fall caused a waterfall famously known as the Nohkalikai Falls, or “The Leap of Ka Likai” in the local language. The moans of the Falls are said to be the echoes of Ka Likai’s never-ending anguished cries that one can hear even today…

Come back tomorrow for more Myths & Legends from Mizoram.

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