The Origins of Bathung - Snake God

The river Teesta originates in the eastern Himalayas and flows southwards towards the Bay of Bengal. Numerous settlements can be found along its banks. The turquoise waters of the mighty river have sustained the occupants for hundreds of years. As with human settlements go, they always contain numerous stories about the local culture, its people, and their daily routine. One such folk tale arises out of its river banks.

A long time ago, there lived a snake god in a cave on the banks of the river Teesta. He fell in love with the gorgeous mermaid that swam in the river.  Their love for each other blossomed like a flower and they got married to each other spending their days happily in the cave. Soon they give birth to two beautiful boys. The handsome boys loved their parents and stayed together in the cave as a joyful happy family.

One fine day the elder son went out hunting. While breezing through the jungles that decorate the river, he came across a pretty Lepcha girl. The young girl was a sight to behold and very charming in her ways. The young god was so fascinated by her that he fell in love with her, commencing their love story. They would meet every day in the forest and soon enough, they get married to each other in secret.

The snake god and his wife were oblivious to the entire affair. They would wonder however about the whereabouts of their eldest son.  Their eldest son would leave early in the morning and arrive home late. Sometimes he would be happy and sometimes he would blaspheme. The erratic behavior continued for days and it fuelled suspicion in the snake god.

One day as they were discussing about their eldest son’s escapades, and he just returned home. On being questioned by his mother about his whereabouts, he slyly lies saying that he had gone hunting. On being probed again, he tells the truth to his parents about the charming Lepcha girl and that they love each other and have married in secret. The old couple rejoiced on hearing about the relationship and insisted on seeing their daughter in law.

The eldest son shares the news with his secret wife. He tells her about the confession and that they eagerly want to meet her. She being a shy person insisted that he postpone the meeting with her in-laws, and asks him time before she can meet them.

The old snake god doesn’t stop insisting though. He lays his terms to his son, that the pretty Lepcha bride must not mock him and laugh at him and must always treat him with the utmost respect.

The next day, the elder son visits his bride and informs her that his parents are persistent about meeting her and have asked to bring her home under the terms put up by his father. He asks her not to delay any further and to go home with him. This time, however, she agrees and she gets gifts from her parents to offer to her in laws. Fresh vegetables, sugarcane, pumpkin, ginger, etc is neatly packed in green leaves and she accompanies her husband to her in-laws' house.

 Just as she enters the house, the old snake god vanishes, never to be seen again. The empty cave was left for the son where he forever lived with his Lepcha Bride and they had many children together, who came together to make a community.

 Legend has it that the descendants of those children are the people of Bathung.

Also Read:  The Story of Teesta and Rongeet.



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