Santal: The Tiger’s Bride

This story is part of the Santal Folklore unit. Story source: Folklore of the Santal Parganas by Cecil Henry Bompas (1909).

The Tiger’s Bride

One day a woman went to cut thatching grass, and she cut such a quantity that, when she tied it up, the bundle was too big for her to lift on to her head. So, she stood and called for some one to help her, but no one was within hearing and no one came. She called and called, and at last began to promise that she would give her daughter in marriage to anyone who would help her.

After she had called out this a few times, a tiger suddenly appeared and asked what she wanted; she explained her difficulty and the tiger undertook to lift the load on to her head if she would really give him her daughter in marriage. She promised and, with the help of the tiger, took up the bundle and went home.

Two or three days after, the tiger presented himself at her house and was duly married to the daughter. After the wedding the couple started for the tiger’s home; all the way the unhappy bride wept and sang: “How far off is our home, big head?”

“You can just see the mouth of the cave,” answered the tiger, and in a short time they came to a large cave.

Then the tiger told her to set to work and cook a feast while he went off and invited his friends to come and share it. But the bride when left alone caught a cat and killed it and hung it over the fire, so that its blood dropped slowly into the pan and made a fizzling noise, as if cooking were going on, and then she ran off to her mother’s house and climbed a tree which grew near it and began to sing:

“You married me to a ti-ti-tiger:
You threw me to a bear:
Take back the necklace you gave me,
Take back the bracelet and the diamonds and the coral.”

Meanwhile the tiger returned with his friends and sat down outside the cave and told his wife to be quick with the cooking of the cakes for he heard the hissing over the fire and thought that she was cooking.

At last, as she did not come out, he got tired of waiting and went in to fetch her; then he saw that she had disappeared and had to go and tell his friends.

They were very angry at being cheated out of a feast, and fell upon the tiger and beat him till he ran away and was seen no more, but his bride was left to flit from tree to tree singing:

“You married me to a ti-ti-tiger:
You threw me to a bear:
Take back the necklace you gave me,
Take back the bracelet and the diamonds and the coral.”

(500 words)








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