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How Men Lost Their Tails

2006-07-13 22:26

  The hill people have many theories about the origin of mankind. Some say that God fashioned the first people from clay with his own hands; some say that they were hatched from enormous eggs. They emerged from a crack in the ground, from the womb of Mother Earth; they were born of a goddess; they were even born of animals.

  But all agree that, however they came into being, they were very different from what they are today, as the following stories show. According to the Saoras of Orissa, for example, they originally had tails.

  In the days when men had tails they used to sweep the ground with them. But as the population increased, they got in the way and at marriages and funerals, people used to tread on each others' tails and trip over and this caused a lot of amusement.

  One day the Great God Kittung went to a bazaar and found it crowded as usual. As he went round looking at the stalls and searching for some good tobacco, someone trod on his tail and he went sprawling on the ground. Unfortunately he fell against a stone and two of his front teeth were knocked out. The whole bazaar roared with laughter and Kittung lost his temper. He picked up his own tail, pulled it out and threw it away. When the other tails saw this, they were frightened and they all of their own accord detached themselves from their bodies and ran away. Kittung's own tail became the sago palm and the rest turned into the grass which is now used for making brooms.

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