dog-bride (Indian Folktales – 3)


Once upon a time there was a youth who used to herd buffaloes; and as he watched his animals graze he noticed that exactly at noon every day a she-dog used to make its way to a ravine, in which there were some pools of water. This made him curious and he wondered to whom it belonged and what it did in the ravine. So he decided to watch, and one day when the dog came he hid himself and saw that when it got to the water, it shed its dog skin, and out stepped a beautiful maiden and began to bathe. And when she had finished bathing she put on the skin and became a dog again, and went off to the village. The herdboy followed her and watched into what house she entered, and he inquired to whom the house belonged. Having found out all about it, he went back to his work.

That year the herdboy’s father and mother decided that it was time for him to marry and began to look about for a wife for him. But he announced that he had made up his mind to have a dog for his wife, and he would never marry a human girl.

Everyone laughed at him, but his mind was made up. So at last they concluded that he must really have the soul of a dog in him, and that it was best to let him have his own way. So his father and mother asked him whether there was any particular dog he would like to have for his bride, and then he gave the name of the man into whose house he had tracked the dog that he had seen going to the ravine. The master of the dog laughed at the idea that anyone should wish to marry her, but finally he relented and sold the dog to the buffalo-herd’s parents. Soon a day was fixed for the wedding and the booth built for the ceremony, and the bridegroom’s party went to the bride’s house, and the marriage took place in due form, and the bride was escorted to her husband’s house.

Every night when her husband was asleep, the bride discarded the dog-skin and went out of the house. Her husband soon found out and one night he pretended to be asleep and lay watching her. And when she was about to leave the room he jumped up and caught hold of her and seizing the dog skin, threw it into the fire. The bride now had no choice but to remain a woman. She was no ordinary beauty, and hence the news about the dog-turned-human bride spread in the village. Everyone congratulated the buffalo-herd.

Now the herdboy had a friend, and when he saw what a prize the buffalo-herd had got, he became immensely jealous. He thought that he could not do better than marry a dog himself. His relations made no objection, and a bride was selected, and the marriage took place, but when they were putting vermilion on the bride’s forehead she began to growl; but in spite of her growling they dragged her to the bridegroom’s house, and forcibly anointed her with oil and turmeric. But when the bride’s party set off home, the dog broke loose and ran after them. Then everyone shouted to tue groom to run after his bride and bring her back, but she only growled and bit at him. At last he had to give up and go home, his head hung in shame.

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