Folklore of the Santal Parganas | Annotated Tale

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Ghormuhas, The

GHORMUHAS have heads like horses and bodies and arms like men and their legs are shaped like men's but they have only one leg each, and they eat human beings.

               One day a young man named Somai was hunting a deer and the deer ran away to the country of the Ghormuhas and Somai pursued it, and the Ghormuhas caught him and took him home to eat. First they smoked him for two or three days so that all the vermin were driven out of his body and clothes and then they proceeded to fatten him; they fed him well every day on rice cooked with turmeric.

               Somai saw how they dealt with their other victims: they tied them hand and foot and threw them alive into a pot of boiling oil and when they were cooked they hung the bodies up in the doorway and would take a bite as they passed in and out; the liver and heart and brains they cooked separately. They used to eat their own parents also: for when a father or mother grew old they would throw them on to the roof of the house and when they rolled down and were killed they would say to their friends, "The pumpkin growing on our roof has got ripe and fallen off and burst, let us come and eat it;" and then they had a feast.

               Somai saw all this and was very frightened. The Ghormuhas could run very fast and they made Somai run a race with them every day and their plan was that they would eat him when he was strong enough to beat them in the race. In the course of time he came to beat them in running on the road; then they said that they would make him run in the fields and, if he beat them there, they meant to eat him.

               Somai found out their plan and he decided to try and run away; if he stayed he would be eaten, so if they caught him when he tried to run away he would be no worse off. So the first day they raced in the fields Somai was winning but he remembered and stopped himself and let himself be beaten that day. But he resolved to try and escape the next day and the Ghorarahas had decided to eat him that day whatever happened. So when the race began, Somai set off towards the lower lands where the rice fields were embanked and he jumped the embankments, but the Ghormuhas who pursued him could not jump well and tumbled and fell; and thus he ran away to his own country and made good his escape. And it was he who told men what Ghormuhas are like and how they live.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Ghormuhas, The
Tale Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Book Title: Folklore of the Santal Parganas
Book Author/Editor: Bompas, Cecil Henry
Publisher: David Nutt
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1909
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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