Thursday, May 22, 2008


It is said that man and mithun were brothers. However, mithun was the lazy one and slept all day long while man toiled in the fields. All attempts to make the mithun work failed.
"You have to work, brother," man told the mithun.
"I don't feel like working. Let me take rest," the mithun said.
"If you don't work," man said, "will you eat grass?"
"I would eat grass rather than work," the lazy mithun retorted.
"In that case," man yelled at the mithun, exasperated, "We cannot live together. Go your own way."

The mithun realised the gravity of the situation, but still did not offer to work. He requested the man to let him live in the village, but man was adamant. "No way. You have to go away," he said.
"Where will I go, my brother?"
"You can go to the jungle as you wanted to eat grass!"
"I love you," the mithun said with tears in his eyes. "I cannot live without seeing you."

Man was touched, but was not ready to live with the mithun unless it worked. Seeing the man unmoved, mithun begged, "I will go to the forest, live there and eat grass. Can you please come to my place sometime to see me?"
"If I do that," the man said, "What will you do for me?"
"I will go to the places you cannot and even die for your cause."
Man agreed to this condition. Till today, he owns the mithun and goes to the jungle with salt to feed his estranged brother. In return, the mithun is sacrificed during festivals like Murung and Subu. They are sacrificed during other rituals as well.

On the occasion of Murung or Subu, the priest chants all day long telling the mithun, "We are sending you as a messenger to the other world where man cannot go. Don't hold me guilty since it was your own words. I am simply fulfilling the wishes you made in the days gone by."

No wonder the Apatanis consider the mithuns sacred and they are sacrificed only during very special occasions.


  1. Don't hold me guilty since it was your own words. I am simply fulfilling the wishes you made in the days gone by

    Poor creature, to make a promise and stand by it, is nothing lesser than heroic. Of man, what can be said.

    Your posts always manage to delight me in an inexplicable way. Just a thought, why don't you remove those annoying popups from bravenet. Do you really gain from those? I doubt people who visit your blog by the "link exchange programme" are least bit bothered about the content of your site unless of course, ziro or apatani is equally intelligible to them as it is to me or you. then again, it's just a thought..

  2. Thanks for the comment.
    Sorry for the pop ups - I am not very internet-savvy and don't have a clue how I can remove that. I could, of course, do with some help.

  3. well.. remove the bravenet exchange widget

  4. I really enjoy your blog. you have so much to share with our young arunachalis, and apatanis in particular.Our elders always use to teach us how to love cattles esp. mithun which is considered a sacred animal by our forefathers. Now I understood the reason why.Your story on myth. stones and rantii etc. was interesting too. Please do keep us en lighted on such topics. I know its difficult for you time find enough time.

  5. Kanno, I think you are right stating that mithun was a lazy creature. Siinyi-biinyi is the word used to describe about mithun and its relation with manin Apatani . It is said, "hunyi mi ariipa agiipe, yapyo mi tuthepa agiipe, hurtami alyopa agiipe" were the words asked by the mithun to man. [Plz correct me, if it is incomplete and incorrect]. Needs some more research.