“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” ~William Congreve
Vey few know the tale of a mourning ‘Chau Chau‘, the fiery Spitian Fairy Princess. The most beloved Mountain in Spiti has an interesting folklore only the locals know about.
Who is Chau Chau (Kang Nilda)
Chau Chau Kang Nilda(CCKN) is a prominent mountain in Spiti named to a Fairy Princess. The name by itself explains the connection. Chau means little girl or a princess. Kang is a snow-capped mountain. Ni or Nima means the sun. Da or Dawa means the moon. So this is the Fairy Princess mountain on which the sun & moon shines.
Investigating the Himalayan Folklore and the Fairytale genre
The oral folklores of Himalayas contain wondrous and marvelous elements. It is not uncommon to find more fairy tale (lakshung) incitations in the folklore . These tales revolve around someone having mystical powers. The other common similarities are fickle minded men, music, romance, banishment and unhappy ending.
In context to Chau Chau saga, she was a fairy who fell in love with a man who broke her heart. It is said that the weather turns foul whenever a man tries to approach her.
Perhaps the most beautiful description of this tale is penned by Freya which got me to visit Langza again.
This story starts years ago. Langza village gets its water from this mountain’s stream so every summer someone was sent to check the stream and remove any obstacles. They also had to watch the stream through the season.
One day Landup was sent to check the stream. Landup was a lazy man & rather enjoyed playing his lute. So off he went to the base of the mountain. After he had checked the stream he sat down by it to play his lute and was soon lost in its music.
After finishing his piece he opened his eyes to find a beautiful woman standing before him. She stared at him transfixed and slowly said. ‘Landup I love your music would you play for me again.’
Landup couldn’t say no to such an ethereal beauty so he started to play again.
The beauty told him after he finished that she was the Chau Chau Kang Nilda fairy & she would like him to come often and play. Landup agreed and left at the end of the day. From then on he kept trying to get the job to check the stream. Over the season they fell in love and continued to see each other during the summers that followed.
It was during the winter a few years later that a drunk Landup was lazing about. His wife saw this and reminded him of some work he had to do. Drunken Landup got upset and shouted back that he rather be with the Chau Chau Kang Nilda fairy who didn’t ask him to work. To this, his wife asked him to stop dreaming but by then Landup had passed out.
In the morning Landup woke up covered in boils & pain. He then remembered what had happened the night before & also remembered that the fairy had asked him never to mention her.
Now he was really worried, the boils marred his handsomeness & he tried everything through winter to be rid of them. But nothing worked.
As soon as summer came & he was no longer house bound he ran to the stream. He played his lute, called out, cried & even screamed but the fairy didn’t come. He never saw her again. And every time he went near the mountain the weather turned nasty & he had to turn back.
Even today when a man tries climbing up Chau Chau Kang Nilda the weather turns nasty. It is said the fairy is still nursing her broken heart and will not let any man come near her.
Chau Chau, a fair maiden has a special charm. If you happen to visit Spiti, bestow your valuable time on her. She is well worth it.
A special mention to Freya for her beautiful rendition of Chou Chou folklore. For further reading, I recommend reading Spiti Through Legend And Lore – Kishore Thukral
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