A Once in a life time experience!! To see the huge snow covered mountains, see the river flow along with you and sometimes see the river, from the heights, meandering, sometimes gently, sometime gushing as though she wants to go somewhere very urgently, to see the still lakes and the rains falling gently and harshly.

That is Sikkim for you. Let me start at the very beginning. Fasten your seat belts because the roads are rough and winding.  The roads are being maintained fairly well but nature decides otherwise when once in a while you have landslides and stone falling which of course roughen up the road. Of course, these rough roads are but tiny pin pricks in an otherwise wonderful journey.

Our road trip strips starts from Bagdogra airport where we land from Bangalore. Vikas is the assigned driver cum guide with an Innova for the entire trip. Our first stop is Pelling which is the capital of West Sikkim. By the way Sikkim is divided into four regions, north south east and west. (All info given by Vikas and not planning to verify. You may do so). It is here that we are travelling alongside the beautiful, majestic Teesta river which is the main river from the Sikkim Himalayas flowing through West Bengal and joins Brahmaputra in Bangladesh (wiki info). Lovely view and yes, we take some pics. 20170416_135440

As we are reaching Pelling one thing strikes me,  especially coming from Bangalore, where is the garbage, Nothing? Strange but true. I casually enquire and this is the astounding answer we get “Madam, here there is a penalty of Rs. 5000/- or and jail term if anybody litters. Hence we take whatever litter in our own vehicle and throw it at home”. Now my eyes are wide open and I start observing everything in detail. In front of every house there is a garbage basket. So any passer-by can put their garbage into it. There are no dust bins on the roads.

Being a vegetarian and liking momos, I hesitantly ask Vikas if there are places where we could get vegetable momos. He literally looks back and with a surprise says that momos here are veg only. And that too with fresh vegetables. 20170418_183545.jpgHe says in Sikkim there is only organic farming (yes I had heard about this, but not sure). I then ask him whether they use  pesticides. The answer I get is even more astounding. Apparently, if one uses pesticides then there is a penalty of Rs 10,000/- and or/- jail term. Wow!! That’s news!!

Pelling is the place from where one can see the Kanchenjunga peaks and weren’t we lucky!! At 5 am in the morning we came to the balcony of Norbughang Hotel and what a sight ‘the sun rising on the Kangzhengzonga (as called in Sikkim) peaks. The golden light on the white mountain peaks.


Kanchenjunga Peaks

I believe it is a rare sight, a truth which I vouch for, since the peaks are not visible the next morning. Apparently this was not visible the previous dawn also.

We resume our journey  to see the other places in and around Pelling. We go through the winding roads of the mountains. Not once did Vikas honk!! To that he says that it has become a habit because honking is banned in the city of Gangtok and other towns. So much to learn  from Sikkim. Wish other states could learn from Sikkim.

20170417_111603The beautiful Khachoedpatri lake (meaning mountain of blissful heaven and the locals worship this lake) and the Kanchenzonga falls are our next stops. The falls are so majestic and the water tasted so sweet.


Have you heard of Vajrayana or tantric form of Buddhism? I had not, and for me it was a first. We visit the 1647 built Pemeyangste monastery . 20170417_162345.jpgThis is rather surprising. I have always seen buddha in a serene posture, and here the buddha was in a totally different form, slightly violent. This was the Nyingma order-Padmasambhava revived Buddhism in Tibet and propagated the tantric form of Buddhism. Hey! Aren’t I digressing?? So much to learn.


The next day we leave for Namchi, the capital of South Sikkim. Here we see the Buddha park, a massive Buddha statue (the posture I have always seen)20170418_111706.jpgand inside, writings and paintings of Buddha. A huge statue of Padmasambhava  is our next stop (this is the Buddha the locals worship (see the expression on his face).20170418_135357

We then proceed to Char Dham. This is quite recently constructed. Here we see the huge Shiva Statue surrounded by the  12 jyotirlingas and the four Dhams Rameshwaram / Puri Jagannath / Dwaraka / Badrinath, the temples are modelled on the lines of the original temples.

We reach Gangtok,  the capital of Sikkim and halt here for the next 3 days. It is morning and we are waiting for Vikas. There is excitement in the air. He must  bring the special permit which would allow us to go to the Nathulla Pass. We keep our fingers crossed and yes, he comes with the permit. We were again lucky because we could see many disappointed faced in the hotel lobby. We leave at around 9am. 20170419_111415Behold the picturesque mountains with some white snow frosted (this was mid of April) on them . We have to halt at many places and the permit had to be shown at many places.


With the certificate issued by the Army at Natu La Pass

Finally, we reach the base of Nathulla Pass. It is very cold but we are prepared for that with enough winter clothing. The climb starts. It is ice, it is slippery, it is cold, it is scary, it is rough, gasping for breath we labour, do not give up and finally reach the top. Yay! We make it. We see the two giant gates opposite each other. One is the gate to China and the other is the gate to India. No tourists from the China border come, only Indians from the Indian Border. How do I explain the feeling: feeling  proud of our brave jawans, sentimental and in awe of the great job being done by our army? I shake hands with the jawans, thank them for keeping us safe and even salute them. That is all I can do. My eyes become misty. Then the treacherous ordeal of going down.  We get a certificate signed by the army that we have been to the pass. Great experience.

The Baba Mandir (read the details in the pic), the temple of the Jawan Baba Harbhajan is our next stop where the jawans give us prasad. The army is taking care of this mandir. It struck me then how spiritual the jawans are. Yes, it is not surprising,  given the place they are in: between the hostile humans and the hostile nature.

The next stop is the beautiful serene Tsango lake with many yaks. Rain??? Oh!! But I have to get a Yak ride. We get down. The rain just stopped. I get on to a yak and go for a short ride.IMG-20170419-WA0016.jpg

What more can one ask for! But the rains start again and I feel the rains had stopped just to help me get a ride on the yak. We rush back into the car. My friend who visited this place a week later found this place full of snow and they could play in the snow. We, of course, see the lake in a different form, with water.  But I am happy..I got a yak ride.

The car stops. A long traffic jam with around 30 vehicles waiting patiently. Some road repair is on. It takes nearly 2 hours to get out of the jam. Not a single honk!!

20170420_105642The next day we spend at Gangtok seeing their handicrafts showroom, the flower show, the Tibetology museum and a monastery. Nothing spectacular neither ordinary. It is good.

We leave for North Sikkim the next day. On the way get down to see the ‘seven sisters’ water falls. From down we could see only 2 falls. We climb a bit and could see only three of them. We have to climb further to see the other 4. The climb is quite steep and we decide not to go ahead. This itself is so beautiful.

Our lunch is at Mongon which is the capital of North Sikkim. Now we have seen all the capitals. On the way one more falls called the Naga falls. Here we walk on a bamboo bridge. A lovely roadside tea and we are on our way.

We are entering  Lachan and I see a board and I ask Vikas to stop there. Were my eyes deceiving me !! See the pic to see what is written  . 20170421_164745.jpgThat is Sikkim for you. No plastic bottles allowed. Hot water would be provided.

We check in at a hotel. We have a  good tea with some snacks and both of us just walk around seeing the small town. But darkness sets in and we get back to the hotel. Dinner was chappathi and dal and subzi.  An early night because we have to leave very early next morning. It is quite cold and sleep eludes, maybe the excitement for the next day programme.

I am a bit worried. We are going to  one of world’s highest lake, Gurudongmar,  around 17000 ft above sea level. Vikas has scared me enough, very low oxygen and temperatures at around -3 °C. Next day we start around 5 am. I am more than fully clothed, thermals, 3 sweaters, jacket.  People with breathing problems are not allowed to go up there and getting permit to go there is difficult but of course we are lucky. To be frank, right through our trip we have been very lucky.

With the Buddhist chant reverberating in the car and the picturesque scenic beauty, it is sheer bliss. Yes, the roads are not great but who thinks of that. As expected there are a lot of checks. This area is controlled by the army. So many army camps we pass through. So many army trucks we see taking the provisions for our jawans. I dread to think what would be the situation in very cold season with the snow. How would our Jawans get their provisions, how long would they have to do with whatever food stale or otherwise till the next truck comes.

Let me not think of all that, let me enjoy the beautiful moment, the huge mountains with streaks of white, the white clouds floating around them 20170419_111415and the sheer drop when we look out of the window. We then come across a curving beautiful tarred road, with shallow hills on either side but with not a single plant, a cold desert.20170422_091920 The road would lead us to that spiritual lake.  I thought I would see the lake at the end of the road. But Vikas says that we have a rocky climb ahead.  Oh no!! I have to climb. But I am wrong, the car climbs the  rocky hillock and lo behold!! The Lake. Words fail me.

I am mesmerised by the sheer stillness of the lake, 20170422_083548the pristine beauty of the lake and the surroundings. The lake is surrounded by snow covered white mountains. This was an ice lake. The ice is reflecting the light which is falling on it and it shines like diamonds. No. it is not fully ice, on the sides, near the shore, there is water. 20170422_083405The belief is that Lord Padmasambhava visited this lake and declared it as a sacred lake. To help the local people  get water, he placed his hand on the iced lake and that part of the lake never freezes into ice even in the coldest of coldest winter.

Again luck favour us. Normally the icy cold winds would not allow anyone to be there for more than 2 to 3 min or may be 10 minutes max. We are there for more than half hour walking and taking pics. It is one of the rather rare days when there is not much wind. This lake is very sacred for the Buddhists and there is a Buddhist temple. We did not feel like coming from there, but good things also have to come to end.

The return journey, otherwise uneventful, is very peaceful, each one of us in our own world, still reliving the moments at the lake.

We come back to the hotel, have lunch and proceed for Lachung where we stay overnight.

Next day morning we proceed to Yamthung which is the ‘valley of flowers’. As we climb the mountain we see flowers of various beautiful shades red/pink/yellow/white even violet on the mountain side. It looks like nature is playing with colours. Could I pluck one? No No there is ban from plucking flowers.

The car jerks. I look outside. 20170423_100117Big boulders strewn everywhere, trees uprooted, electric poles fallen.  This was the place where in 2014 a major landslide had happened. Big big rocks had fallen on the road, only the stumps of the trees remained, the electric poles had crashed. It is nearly three years and the work is still going on to bring some order there.

It is cold and it is raining. I am literally shivering, I am not prepared  for this cold, no proper clothing. Though we are aware, we still feel a little let down to see that there are no flowers in the valley of flowers. Only the river was flowing. The flowers bloom only in May/June and we are early. However, we have glimpses of the flowers, which would bloom in the valley, on our journey from and to Yumthang.  Beyond this, there was a place much higher called the Zero point, where there would be snow.  We decide not to go there since we are not properly clothed. Anyway, we hear from people coming from there that there is not much snow (sour grapes ha ha).

While returning we did not forget to take the pictures of the beautiful flow20170423_101802ers. The sight of the red rhododendron flowers against the grey and white mountains, the pink carpet of flowers, the white and orange flowers is still fresh in my mind.

Back to Lachung and our return journey to Gangtok begins. Yes, our wonderful journey is coming to an end. Yes, it is a bit sad, but it is very self-satisfying, we have with us lovely precious memories of nature at her best at the various places. It is a wonderful, beautiful journey across Sikkim , through the Himalayas and as I say A Once in a lifetime experience.

Next day we leave Gangtok for Bagdogra from where we fly back to Bangalore taking with us the beautiful pictures and the pleasant memories.






WHY IS THE SKY SO FAR AWAY (An African folktale)

Long ago the sky was close to the Earth. Men and women did not have to plant their own food. Instead, when they were hungry, they just reached up and broke off a piece of the sky to eat. Sometimes the sky tasted like ripe bananas. Other times it tasted like roasted potatoes. The sky was always delicious.

People spent their time making beautiful cloth. They painted beautiful pictures and sang songs at night. The grand king, Oba, had a wonderful palace. His servants made beautiful shapes out of pieces of sky.

Many people in the kingdom did not use the gift of the sky wisely. When they took more than they could eat, the sky became angry. Some people threw the extra pieces into the garbage.

Early one morning the angry sky turned dark. Black clouds hung over the land and a great sky voice said to all the people, “You are wasting my gift of food. Do not take more than you can eat. I don’t want to see pieces of me in the garbage anymore or I will take my gift away.”

The king and the people trembled with fear. King Oba said, “Let’s be careful about how much food we take.” For a long time, all the people were careful.

But one man named Adami wasn’t careful. At festival time, he took so many delicious pieces of sky that he couldn’t eat them all. He knew he must not throw them away.

He tried to give the pieces to his wife. “Here, wife,” Adami said. “You eat the rest.”

“I can’t,” Adami’s wife said. “I’m too full.”

Adami asked all his children to help him eat the delicious pieces of sky, but the children couldn’t eat one more bite. So Adami decided to try to hide the pieces at the bottom of the garbage pile.

Suddenly, the sky became angry and the clouds turned black. “You have wasted my gift of food again,” yelled the sky.

“This time I will go away so you cannot waste me anymore.”

All of the people cried, “What will we eat? We might starve!”

The sky said, “You will have to learn how to plant crops in the ground and hunt in the forests. If you work hard, you may learn not to waste the gifts of nature.”

Everyone watched as the sky sailed away. From that time on, they worked hard to grow their food and cook their meals. They always tried to remember not to waste the gifts of nature.

Source: Internet

Note: A suggestion was given by one of the parents who was also in the audience and the next time I tell this story it would end this way: 

‘Everyone watched as the sky sailed away. The earth hearing their cries came and told them, “I will help you, but if you misuse my gift I will also go away”. From that time on, the people worked hard to grow their food and cook their meals. They always tried to remember not to waste the gifts of nature.  

But are we forgetting the promises made to Mother Earth!!






8th January 2017, I had to tell stories at the Kaikondarahalli Kera Habba (Lake festival) and the posters mentioned that the storytelling would be themed around ‘environment’. This set me thinking. How can I make the stories convey messages without preaching!!

I had in my story bag 2 or 3 such stories and I needed some more. The browsing started……

Yes, I got my stories and here they are.

The One Seed story (already in my blog}

Why is the sky so far above?

The caterpillar story (of course, nothing to do with environment as such. But as they say ‘variety is the spice of life’)

The giving tree (how did I miss writing this in my blog earlier!!)




































January 2017, I had to tell stories at the Kaikondarahalli Kera Habba (Lake festival) and the posters mentioned that the storytelling would be themed around ‘environment’. This set me thinking. How can I make the stories convey messages without preaching!!

I had in my story bag 2 or 3 such stories and I needed some more. The browsing started……

Yes, I got my stories and here they are.

The One Seed story (already in my blog}

Why is the sky so far above?

The caterpillar story (of course, nothing to do with environment as such. But as they say ‘variety is the spice of life’)

The giving tree (how did I miss writing this in my blog earlier!!)






































A very long time ago, there was a hippopotamus named Istanim. He was one of the biggest animals on the land just next to the elephant and was thus considered the king. The hippo had seven fat wives and loved all of them very dearly. He often organized lavish feasts for his people. Though all the people of the area knew the hippo, none other than his seven wives knew his real name.

One day, the hippo organised one of his regular feasts. Just when all the guests sat down for the lavish dinner, the hippo said, “Only those of you who can tell my name can enjoy the feast.” Everyone looked at each other’s face and no one knew the name of the hippo. So all of them had to go home leaving the delicious spread and the lovely wine.

Just before they all left, the tortoise asked the hippo, what he would do if the tortoise managed to guess the hippo’s name at the next feast. The hippo replied, “If you can find out my name before the next feast, I would leave the land along with my seven wives and dwell in the water forever.”

The tortoise was aware that every day the hippo

and his seven wives went to the river to drink water and wash themselves. The hippo walked first with the seven wives following him. One such day, when the hippo along with his seven wives had gone for a bath in the nearby river, the tortoise made a small hole in the ground and waited for them.

After a while, the tortoise noticed that five of the hippo’s wives had moved ahead along with the hippo, leaving behind two wives. The tortoise quickly came out of his hole and buried himself half into the sand leaving the other half exposed.

While the two wives were walking, the first wife accidentally bumped her feet against the shell of the tortoise. She immediately cried out loud, “Oh Isantim, my dear husband, please come and help me. I have hurt myself.”

The tortoise finally heard the name of the hippo and went home happily.

The next time when the hippo organised one of his usual feasts, the tortoise told the hippo that now he knew his name. The hippo asked him to tell his name. The tortoise asked the hippo to promise that he would not hurt the tortoise upon hearing his name. The hippo promised so.

“Isantim is your name,” the turtle said loudly. All the guests at the feast cheered loudly at the tortoise and sat down to enjoy their meal.

As per the promise,the hippo left with his seven wives after the feast. He went into the nearby river and started living there and never returned to land. Since then, hippos can be seen on the land only at night, while they stay underwater all day long.

Indian folktale





Long, long ago animals had no tails. One morning when Elephant was drinking at Mangochi (in Malawi)  with his friends, it  was very hot, and the flies were bothering them.

“It would be a wonderful thing if we had tails,” said Elephant. “We could chase away the flies with tails. I wonder where one gets such a thing as a tail?”

“Across the valley, and over the hill lives Kudu (antelope) who has boxes full of all sorts of things. Perhaps one of them is full of tails,” answered Eland (antelope). So Elephant lumbered off across the valley and over the hill to where Kudu always browsed.

“Now that the sun is shining and the flies are bothering me, I have come to get a tail,” said Elephant as he approached Kudu, who was resting under a big kacheri (fig) tree, surrounded by his boxes. “All the animals want tails, and you have many boxes. One of them is surely full of tails, is it not?”

Kudu looked at his visitor. “I’m not sure,” he answered. “But look through one of those boxes, Elephant,” he said. “Perhaps tails are packed away in it.” Elephant lifted the lid of a box with his trunk and peered inside. All he saw were dozens of beads, all made of glass.

“What is this about?” he asked Kudu. “How is it that this box is full of beads made of glass?”

“Oh,” answered Kudu. “When an animal comes to me for help, he leaves behind glass beads for me to look at. Now I remember! Some of these boxes are full of beads that animals have given me for favours I have done for them.” “But  we want tails, and I have no glass beads to offer you Kudu,” said Elephant. “No matter,” answered Kudu. “ You can bring some glass beads the next time you need a favour. Go back now to your friends and say, “Tibibibi,” and you will all have tails.”

“Thank you for your trouble,” said Elephant. “The next time I see you I will have glass beads for you,” and he flapped his ears and walked back over the hill and down the valley to Mangochi. When he got to the waterhole, the animals crowded around him.

“What have you found out from Kudu?” they asked at once. “How will we get tails?”

“Animals usually pay Kudu in glass beads for any favour that he does for them. But as I had no beads he said it did not matter, and he told me to say…er, he said I should say… Oh no! I have forgotten the words that will get us tails! I am sorry,” said Elephant, “but I cannot remember them. It is very strange, because an elephant never forgets!” And Elephant flapped his ears and rolled over in the mud to cool off after his long journey.

Then Eland said that he would go and ask Kudu if he could look through a box for tails, and if there were none, for the magic words that would give the animals tails. “After all, Kudu may like a visit from one of his own kind,” he said. And off he ran, fleet of foot. But the same thing happened. There were only glass beads in the box, and of course Eland had also not brought any beads with him. But Kudu gave him the magic words “Tibibibi” anyway. And strangely enough, by the time Eland got back to Mangochi, he had, just like Elephant, forgotten them.

Then Leopard went to see Kudu to ask for tails from a box, and when he found only glass beads, he asked for the magic words that would give the animals tails. But  of course, by the time he got back to Mangochi, he too had forgotten the magic words, “Tibibibi”.

Then Tortoise spoke up. “I think that Kudu is a very clever animal,” he said. “It is time for me to visit him with some glass beads. Perhaps if he receives payment for his advice, we will have our tails. I will take a little longer than Elephant and Eland and Leopard to get to him. But I may just be lucky and remember the magic words that he gives me when I get back to Mangochi. Goodbye friends. Wish me luck!” And Tortoise crept off slowly to the village to collect glass beads from the market place that lay where the sellers had dropped them. When he had found five glass beads he wrapped them in a leaf and tucked them up in his shell. Then he set off to see Kudu. After many days of travelling he found Kudu resting under his kachere tree, surrounded by his boxes.

“Good day Kudu,” he said. “I have brought some beautiful coloured glass beads with me to give to you as a present. Would you like to see them?”

“Oh, yes please,” answered Kudu, and he came bounding up to Tortoise. Tortoise unwrapped the beads and spread them out at Kudu’s hooves. There was a bright green bead the colour of a baobab leaf. There was a blue bead the colour of the sky, and an orange bead the colour of fire. There was a bead as yellow as the sun, and one as black as a night without stars. Kudu was enchanted.

“Is there anything I can do for you to thank you for this gift?” he asked.

“I need your help,” answered Tortoise. “Perhaps you would be kind enough to tell me the magic words that will give all of us animals tails?”

“With pleasure,” said Kudu. “You are sure to remember the words “Tibibibi” when you get back to the other animals, because you are very clever and wise, dear Tortoise.”

“Thank you,” answered Tortoise, and he crept slowly off, back towards Mangochi.

Meanwhile all the animals had long despaired of ever seeing Tortoise again. He had been   away for weeks and weeks.  So when they saw the exhausted little creature come slowly and quietly up to the waterhole to slake his thirst, a great cheer went up from them.

“Hello, dear Tortoise,” they laughed. “We have missed you. It is good to see you back home even through you too have no doubt forgotten the magic words that Kudu gave you to get us tails to chase away the flies.” Tortoise finished drinking his water, and then slowly looked around him.

“It is good to be back home, my friends. Tibibibi! May all of us have tails!” And with those words every animal looked behind him and saw that he had a tail. Tortoise looked over at Elephant, who was trumpeting with pleasure and swishing his tail back and forth.

“That’s a fine tail that Elephant must chase away the flies,” he thought. “It’s almost like a broom.” Then he looked at Eland’s tail. “That’s a satisfactory tail too. It finishes the end of Eland off rather well. And look at the wonderful swinging tail that Leopard now sports!”

Then Tortoise looked for his own tail. He noted that it was one of the smallest tails of all the animals. In fact, it was hardly a tail to speak of. It was then that he realised that every animal had a tail to suit him. He himself was well protected by his shell, so that the flies didn’t bother him. And he certainly didn’t wish to drag a big tail along in the dust behind him. His tail was just right. He looked around him at the animals and their new tails.

“And now that we are all satisfied, I must sleep awhile, as I am very tired,” he murmured.

“Thank you, Tortoise,” cheered all the animals. “Thank you for getting us tails!” Then Elephant lifted the tired little creature up on his trunk and placed him in a shady spot under the kachere tree, so that he could rest inside his shell after his long and tiring journey.

This story is from Legends of the African Lakes, Tales from Malawi and the Great Lakes of Africa, retold by Ann Walton






The other day I went to tell a story to a group of children and asked them to describe the crow. Some said the crow was fully black in colour, others said he had a horrible voice and still others said nobody eats them. One little one said that he had never seen a crow behind a cage. Yes, all of them are true. But did you know that this was not the case in the early times.

Many many moons ago, the crow was called the Rainbow Crow because it was the most beautiful of all the birds with shimmering feathers of rainbow hues and an enchanting singing voice.

There was a time when the world was very very cold. Snow fell constantly, and ice formed over all the waters. The animals had never seen snow before. At first, it was a novelty, something to play in. But the cold increased tenfold, and they began to worry. The little animals were being buried in the snow drifts and the larger animals could hardly walk because the snow was so deep. Soon, all would perish if something were not done.

“We must send a messenger to the Creator,” said Wise Owl. “We must ask him to make the world warm again so that the Spirit Snow will leave us in peace.”

The animals were pleased with this plan. They began to debate among themselves, trying to decide who to send up to the Creator. Wise Owl could not see well during the daylight, so he could not go. Coyote was easily distracted and liked playing tricks, so he could not be trusted. Turtle was steady and stable, but he crawled too slowly.

Finally, Rainbow Crow, the most beautiful of all the birds with shimmering feathers of rainbow hues and an enchanting singing voice, was chosen to go to the creator.

It was a very difficult journey, three days up and up into the heavens, passing the trees and clouds, beyond the sun and the moon, and even above all the stars. He was buffeted by winds and had no place to rest, but he carried bravely on until he reached Heaven.

When Rainbow Crow reached the Holy Place, he called out to the Creator, but received no answer. So, the Rainbow Crow began to sing his most beautiful song.

The Creator was drawn from his thoughts by the lovely sound, and came to see which bird was making it. He greeted Rainbow Crow kindly and asked what gift he could give the noble bird in exchange for his song. Rainbow Crow asked the Creator to make the world warm again, so that the animals of Earth would not be buried and frozen to death by the snow. But the Creator told Rainbow Crow that the snow and the ice had spirits of their own and could not be destroyed.

“What shall we do then?” asked the Rainbow Crow. “We will all freeze or smother under the snow.”

“You will not freeze,” the Creator reassured him, “For I shall send Fire, something that will warm all creatures during the cold times.”

The Creator stuck a stick into the blazing hot sun. The end blazed with a bright, glowing fire which burned brightly and gave off heat. “This is Fire,” he told Rainbow Crow, handing him the cool end of the stick. “You must hurry to Earth as fast as you can fly before the stick burns up.”

Rainbow Crow nodded his thanks to the Creator and flew as fast as he could go. It was a three-day trip to Heaven, and he was worried that the Fire would burn out before he reached the Earth. The stick was large and heavy, but the fire kept Rainbow Crow warm as he descended from Heaven down to the bright path of the stars. Then the Fire grew hot as it came closer to Rainbow Crows feathers. As he flew passed the Sun, his tail caught on fire, turning the shimmering beautiful feathers black. By the time, he flew passed the Moon, his whole body was black with soot from the hot Fire. When he plunged into the Sky and flew through the clouds, the smoke got into his throat, strangling his beautiful singing voice.

By the time Rainbow Crow landed among the freezing-cold animals of Earth, he was black as tar and could only Caw instead of sing. He delivered the fire to the animals, and they melted the snow and warmed themselves, rescuing the little animals from the snow drifts where they lay buried. It was a time of rejoicing, for Fire had come to Earth.

But Rainbow Crow sat apart, saddened by his dull, ugly feathers and his rasping voice. Then he felt the touch of wind on his face. He looked up and saw the Creator walking toward him.

“Do not be sad, Rainbow Crow,” the Creator said. “All animals will honour you for the sacrifice you made for them. And when the people come, they will not hunt you, for I have made your flesh taste of smoke so that it is no good to eat and your black feathers and hoarse voice will prevent man from putting you into a cage to sing for him. You will be free.”

Then the Creator pointed to Rainbow Crow’s black feathers. Before his eyes, Rainbow Crow saw the dull feathers become shiny and inside each one, he could see all the colours of the rainbow. “This will remind everyone who sees you of the service you have been to your people,” he said, “and the sacrifice you made that saved them all.”

An American Indian folktale



Long long time ago, Lightning and Thunder lived on the earth, just like other people. The king was, however, not happy and made them live at the edge of the town, far away from the other people.

Thunder was an old sheep and Lightning was her only son, a ram. Lightning was very mischievous and whenever he got angry, he destroyed trees and burnt down houses. Every time Lightning caused any harm to anyone, Thunder, the sheep used to get very angry and scold him in a very loud voice. But Lightning hardly ever listened to his mother and continued causing damage to everyone. Gradually, people got very irritated with Lightning and finally complained to the king about him.

The king was concerned about the people of his town and ordered Thunder and Lightning to go out of the town and live by themselves in the faraway bushes. However, that did not make much of a difference. Even now whenever the ram lost his temper, he would scream out loud and burn the forest. At times, the fire from the forest would spread from there and burn the village houses.

The people were scared and worried and once again reported the matter to the king. The king was very angry this time. He was concerned about the well-being of his people. He decided to banish the mother and the son. He ordered them to leave the earth and go and live in the sky.

Since then, Lightning causes fire and destruction whenever he is angry and his mother continues to scold him loudly, asking him to stop the destruction. That is why you can always see the bright Lightning on the sky and hear the loud Thunder right after that. Sometimes when the mother is tired or doing some other work, you can still see Lightning causing fire but the mother’s voice is nowhere to be heard.

 Indian folk tale



How Daylight Came To Be: The Ant and the Bear

Long, long ago, so long ago, there was no light, there was only darkness.  In those days, the Ant people worked very hard.  They would go looking for food, and sometimes get lost in the darkness.  Sometimes, they would hear heavy footsteps, and a monster would get into their homes and steal and eat their babies, disappearing into the darkness again.

This monster was Tsimox, the Grizzly Bear.  Even now, bears will sometimes dig up the nests of ants to eat their larvae.

There was one person, Ant Woman, who was smarter than all the rest.  “If we had light, we would be able to see and find our way home. We could also watch out for the monster Bear, who steals our children.” Ant Woman decided to go to the house of the Creator, and ask for light on behalf of her people.  It was a long and dangerous journey.

She did not know it, but Bear followed her, to see what she would do. “Oh, Creator,” she said, “give my people light, so we can see and work…” But before she could finish speaking, Bear stepped in front of her, saying, “Don’t listen to her!  Don’t give this little bug person what she wants!  I want it to always be dark so I can sleep and be cool!”

The Creator replied, “There will be a contest—a dance contest—and the winner will get his or her desire.”

This was the very first Pow wow (A pow wow is a social gathering held by many different Native American communities), when people came together to compete in dance.  Just as now, people came from the four directions to see the dancing.  They brought all sorts of food to share with one another.

As soon as Bear saw all the different types of food, he became very excited and began to eat.But little Ant Woman fasted.  She concentrated on praying on behalf of her people.  She pulled her belt tight around her waist, so she would not feel hungry.  Finally, it was time to compete.

She stood up, and told the people, “I am the Ant Woman and I dance for light!”  And then she did a fast dance, pulling her belt tighter and tighter.

When she had finished, Bear stood up and wiped the crumbs from his lips, saying, “I am the Bear and I dance for night!”  Then he did his slow and lumbering dance.  When he had finished, he went back to eating.

For four days and four nights they danced.  Ant Woman did not eat during this time, continuing to fast and pray.  She pulled her belt tighter and tighter. Bear stood up to dance against her, but he was now so fat and full, he could hardly move.  He was so tired and sleepy…  “I am Bear…I dance for…” and then he fell asleep right in the middle of his dance.  He began to snore loudly.

“Little Ant has won,” said the Creator, “but both the Ant and the Bear are my children and I love them both.  For that reason, I will give them both what they wish for—daylight for the Ant People so they can see and work, and night time for the Bear, so he can sleep and be cool.”

And today we have day and night because of the wonderful little Ant Woman.  And if you see an ant today, you’ll notice she still has a tiny waist, so you know this story is true.  In the Twana language, the name for ant is “tlatlusid” which means “tied or cinched at the waist.”

This is an American Indian folktale





One morning a mosquito saw an iguana (lizard) drinking at a waterhole. The mosquito said, “Iguana, you will never believe what I saw yesterday.” “Try me,” said the iguana. The mosquito said, “ I saw a farmer digging yams that were as big as I am”

“What’s a mosquito compared to a yam?” snapped the iguana grumpily. “ I would rather be deaf than listen to such nonsense!” Then he stuck two sticks in his ears and went off, through the reeds.

The iguana was still grumbling to himself when he happened to pass by a python. The big snake raised his head and said, “Good morning, Iguana.” The iguana did not answer because he couldn’t hear and continued walking. “Iguana must be angry about something. I am afraid he is plotting some mischief against me!” He began looking for somewhere to hide and the first likely place he found was a rabbit hole, and in it he went hissing.

When the rabbit saw, the big snake coming into her burrow, she was terrified. She scurried out through the back way and bounded across the clearing. The crow saw the rabbit running for her life. He flew into the forest crying out loud. It was his duty to spread the alarm in case of danger.

A monkey heard the crow. He was sure some dangerous beast was prowling  near. He began screeching and leaping through the trees to help warn the other animals. As the monkey was crashing through the treetops, he happened to land on a dead limb of the tree and it broke and fell on an owl’s nest, killing one of the owlets.

Mother Owl was not at home. For though she usually hunted only in the night, this morning she was still out searching for one more tidbit to satisfy her hungry babies. When she returned to the nest, she found one of them dead. Her other children told her that the monkey had killed it. All that day and all that, she sat in her tree very sad.

Now it  was the Mother Owl who woke the sun each day so that the dawn could come. But this time, when she should have hooted for the sun, she did not do it. The night grew longer and longer. The animals of the forest knew it was lasting much too long. They feared that the sun would never come back.

At last King Lion called a meeting of the animals. They came and sat around the fire. Mother Owl did not come, so the antelope was sent to fetch her. When she arrived, King Lion asked, “Mother Owl, why have you not called the sun? the night has lasted long, long, long and everyone is worried.” Mother Owl told that the monkey had killed one of her owlets and she couldn’t bear to wake the sun. The king said to the gathered animals: “Did you hear? It was the monkey who killed the owlet. And now the mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day can come.”

The king called the monkey and the monkey came nervously before the king. “Monkey”, said the king, “why did you kill the owlet?” The monkey said, “ Oh king, it was the crow’s fault. He was calling and calling to warn us of danger. And I went leaping through the trees to help. A limb of the tree broke under me and it fell on the owl’s nest”. The king told the council: “so it was the crow who alarmed the monkey, who killed the owlet and now mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day can come”.

Then the king called for the crow. That big bird came flapping up.  He said, “King Lion, oit was the rabbit’s fault. I saw her running for her life in the daytime. Wasn’t that reason enough to spread alarm?” The king nodded his head and said to the council : “so, it was the rabbit who startled the crow, who alarmed the monkey, who killed the owlet and now mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day can come”.

The king lion called the rabbit. The timid little creature stood before him, one trembling paw drawn up certainly. “Rabbit”, why did you break the law of nature and go running in the daytime?” “Oh King”, said the rabbit, “it was the python’s fault. I was in my house minding my own business when that big snake come in and chased me out”. The king said to the council: “so, it was the python who scared the rabbit, who startled the crow, who alarmed the monkey, who killed the owlet and now Mother Owl won’t wake up the sun so that the day can come”.

King lion called the python, who came slithering past the animals. “But king”, he cried, “ it was the iguana’s fault! He wouldn’t speak to me and I thought he was plotting some mischief against me. When I crawled into the rabbit’s hole, I was only trying to hide”. The king said to the council: “so, it was the iguana who frightened the python, who scared the rabbit, who startled the crow, who alarmed the monkey, who killed the owlet and now Mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day can come.”

Now the iguana was not at the meeting. For he had not heard the summons. The antelope was sent to fetch him. All the animals laughed when they saw the iguana coming with stick stuck to his ears. The king lion put out the sticks. Then he asked, “Iguana, what evil have you been plotting against the python?” “None! None at all!” cried the iguana, “he is my best friend”. “Then why didn’t you say good morning to me”. “I didn’t hear you or even see you. The mosquito told me such a big lie, I couldn’t bear to listen to it. So, I put sticks in my ears”. The king told the council: “so it was the mosquito who annoyed the iguana, who frightened the python, who scared the rabbit, who startled the crow who alarmed the monkey who killed the owlet, and now Mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day can come.”

“Punish the mosquito! Punish the mosquito!” cried all the animals. When Mother Owl hear that, she was satisfied. She turned her head towards the east and hooted: and the sun came up.

Meanwhile the mosquito was listening to all the talk from a nearby bush. She crept under a curly leaf and was never found brought to the council. But because of this the mosquito has a guilty conscience. To this day she goes about whining in people’s ears: “Zeeee! Is everyone angry with me.” When she does that, she gets an honest answer. And you know what it is Yes a whack!!!

An African folktale retold by Verdana Aardema