Kunghyun: "Consequence of killing her grandchild"
Lepcha, the indigenous of Ney Mayel Lyang, Hidden Paradise; Lepcha cultures and livelihoods are rooted in the landscape. All elements in the landscape are connected to their ancestors and here in the Himalayas is where their ancestors' spirits have settled eternally. The Lepchas believe that each clan has its own Chu (Peak), Dhu (Lake), and Lep (Gateway to their ancestor's world).
This is the lore behind how the famous seven sister waterfall’s place Kunghyun got its name.
The original name of the place is called as ‘Kunghyun’ but the word Kunghyun is corrupted and has gone on to become a ‘Kongkun’ today.
This folklore was never told and unveiled before the audience. Everyone knew about the infamous waterfall but curiosity was never met about knowing the folklore behind the meaning of the place. So, we are trying our best to meet the thirst of some of them through this documentation.
Unlike the popular folklore of the region, which has been told and retold many times like Rongnyue & Rongnyeet's ( Teesta and Rangit ) love story, Doroumdin (Daramdin) stairway to heaven, legends of Lasso Mung Punu etc by the outsiders (outside the community and the foreign visitor) and by people within the community, but short stories like this have never been told before because if which the stories are all getting faded from the mouth of the intelligent since there is no one to listen to them and write their stories down. Focused on the popular folktales, short stories like 'Kunghyun' are getting lost in-between that famous lore.
Seven sister waterfall is a natural and perennial fall located between the Foktam (Phamtam is what everyone knows and called) and Rarick. The waterfall puts together the tail of Men-Rongong village, a homogenous Lepcha society. Located 34 kilometres away from the capital of Sikkim, Gangtok, the brother of seven states of the North-Eastern states of India, is one of the most prominent tourist spots on Sikkim's tourism map. The waterfall is located on the way to the international bordering location of Sikkim and another famous visitor destination. Likes of Gurudongmar, Lachung, Lachen, Dzongu, Yumthang, has to pass through the waterfall.
Once upon a time, in the Men-Rongong village, there lived seven household families. The members of the family varied from one to another house. Some had big and some had relatively small family members. Among the households, in a one-family there lived a mother who had quite a responsible son, a daughter-in-law who use to look after the home affairs, and her grandchild (infant).
Monsoon is the busiest time for all and for the Lepcha people too. It is the season of abundance and the season of well-off. The son and her daughter-in-law were always busy with their monsoon's indispensable work. The mother always stayed back to babysit her grandchild and also because she was quite an aged person. One day, like a usual day, the son and the daughter-in-law went into the field and the mother remained to babysit her grandchild. But something happened unusual that day in the evening with the baby.
By the time, they come back from the field, baby is already fed and rested.
But that day something unprecedented incident took place. Usually when they are back the baby invariably wakes up, because of the mother's warm aroma, but that day baby had no sign of waking up.
The Baby's mother was surprised to see the baby’s unresponsive behaviour towards her, because that’s something it never had taken place before. So, the baby's mother wanted to check the child out, but the mother-in-law stopped her from seeing her child. “Let the baby sleep for a while. The baby was busy whole day playing around, must have been tired”
The baby’s mother wanted to go and check her again in the second time, but this time too, behaviour-law barred her assuring her of the baby’s we’ll off.
Mother got really anxious and got worried this time, for the third time mother-in-law wanted to stop her, she was already out to baby’s reach.
The baby’s head was only left. Half of the baby's body were all eaten from the neck.
The baby's mother and father suffered insanely inside but they showed no emotions or anger towards the mother.
They were now sure of the mother's status. They didn't let mother have any doubt about their program.
Tomorrow early morning after the unanticipated incident the son kindled making a basket of Ryu Ryek, Calamus Erectus. After completing the basket, the son called a meeting of seven household heads of the family. Later, after the meeting was conveyed, they all captured the old lady in the tight-knot calamus basket, because during the meeting son had convinced the six heads of the family that the mother was threat to them and their families.
And she was hung in a tree, because they couldn't dare to kill her, nearby waterfall. After three days of continuous shouting, crying out and screaming, she was dead, not dead but she went missing from the basket without any sign of a cut and shatter on the basket. Today Seven Sisters fall's place is known as 'Kunghyun' meaning literally in Lepcha language as "Hung in the tree".
Traces of the folk lores and myth are still found in the place in the same way and people around the place still believe that the soul and the body of the old lady from the basket got turned into evil spirits. There are three believes that folk still today carries;
1. that the old lady's spirit is lingering around the waterfall.
2. The infant baby's should be avoided carrying and brought near the fall.
3. If the practice is not followed baby's lifespan might not be long and will remain sick time and again.
By Palden Lepcha
Story source: Ren Ajyo Menchi, Bongthing from Men-Rongong