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Naga Folklore: The Man’s Bestfriend

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In the olden days when dogs could speak, a mother dog gave birth to two little pups, and as the pups grew bigger, more food was needed. So one day, the mother dog went out hunting for food, and on the same day, the mother partridge bird went in search of food too. While fetching food in the swampy valley, her foot was trapped, and a crab pinched her.

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With fear, the partridge swooped up and struck against a Sambar’s ear- a large deer with two antlers, each having 3 horns. This frightened the Sambar so much that it jumped to run away, but while jumping, it’s bound on the mother dog and trampled her to death.

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When the mother dog didn’t return, the puppies asked God, “Where has our mother gone?” God said, “While hunting for food, your mother was killed by Sambar”. The pups then asked God, “To whom shall we go for help to avenge our mother”, and God directed them to go to the Tiger, who was supposed to be the most ferocious of all animals.

So the pups went to the Tiger’s house and said, “The Sambar trampled on our mother and killed her, please help us to avenger our mother”. The tiger gave them food to eat and said, “Sleep well my dear, we shall go early to avenge your mother”. While they were asleep, the night breeze blew and scared the puppies, and they started barking. The Tiger woke up and said, “Make no noise, for I fear the Spirit who is greater than I”. So, they moved to the Spirit’s house.

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The Spirit welcomed them with a great night’s feast and said, “sleep dear ones, for we shall set early to avenge your mother”. But the puppies were not convinced and decided to test the Spirit’s hearts; they started barking, and the poor Spirit woke up with fear and said, “Make no noise, for I fear man who, under heaven is the greatest”’.

The puppies realized that there is still someone who is greater and stronger than others. So, they went to the house of Man and said, “O man, the sambar trampled on our mother and killed her; please help us avenge our mother’s death” The man gave them liquor to drink and cooked rice to eat and said, “We shall go out and track down your mother’s killer, so take a good rest in my house”

They slept and as usual, the night breeze came sweeping, to which the puppies barked, to test the Man’s heart. It was pitch black and the sweeping noise was eerie indeed, in spite, the unafraid Man said, “Do not fear puppies, for I am beside you”

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The man woke up before the sunrise, and sharpened his spear, while his wife fed the puppies. After having the meal, they went down the riverbed and called out puppies to look for the tracks. The three came across the Tiger’s track and the man asked, “Is this the feet that killed your mother?”, and they denied. After searching for awhile, they came across a familiar track of a deer and the man asked, “Is this the feet that killed your mother?” and they said, “Yes, it is the feet that killed our mother”.

The man commanded, “Go and chase the Sambar; I shall set a trap and wait”. Then he climbed up to a rock and waited for the Sambar. The puppies chased the deer and brought it near the man, and as it came closer, the man swiftly speared the deer with great accuracy.

silhouette of man and dog at sunset free photo The North-Eastern Chronicle

The puppies were so glad and jumped upon the Sambar and bit its ears. The man then cut out the flesh and gave the hind leg of Sambar to the dogs as ‘dog’s share’, he then gave the right leg to his father and he took the head.To this day, the Sumi Nagas in particular, give the right leg to the chief of the village and head to the person who killed it.

Since then, the dog and man consorted and lived together. The man gave food and shelter while the Dog guarded the man and his property. But, the combination of man and dog became so successful that it became deadly for other animals and thus, they slowly moved farther into the jungle, away from the humanity that they lost their speech. Whereas, man and dog killed many animals and could speak.

So, God decided to cut down the duo’s power, so he made some baboons, to pull the dog’s tongue, and this is how the dog lost the power of speech. But, the man never disowned them. Instead, the dogs became man’s best friend and lived together.

(inputs from the book: Sumi Naga)

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