The Legend of Chongchongminda
Chongchongminda grabing the tail of a hog

Long long ago, in a quaint village of Garos Hills, lives a man known as Chongchongminda. Having lost his father, he lived a humble life with his mother, relying on jhum cultivation to sustain themselves. The yields of their labor varied, bringing both abundance on some year and scarcity on the other. However, tragedy struck again when his mother passed away suddenly leaving him to tend to the land alone in this wide world. Undeterred, he persevered and continued tending to his land.

Unfortunately, a persistent problem plagued his field—the intrusion of wild hogs that ravaged his precious crops. Frustrated and desperate to protect his livelihood, he resolved to confront the marauding hogs. Arming himself with a sharp spear, he took up the night's vigil, guarding his field against their insatiable appetites. As darkness blanketed the land, the hogs stealthily crept in, drawn to the scent of the bountiful harvest. However, rather than immediately resorting to violence, he cautiously approached the largest hog in the herd and grap its tail tightly. Startled by this, the hog squeal and the entire herd began to ran amok thereby dragging him across the field and into the woods. But, he clung to the tail and refused to let it go, and after some time, he found himself in his deceased mother's village—an ethereal village inhabited by spirits. It turned out that the hog he had captured was none other than the spirit of his mother.

Deciding to stay with his mother in the ghostly village for a while, he became part of the community. One day, the village's spirit inhabitants needed to venture into the forest to collect bamboo. His mother sent him to assist them in their task, and he willingly joined their expedition. They passed through a place teeming with bamboo, but the spirits kept looking for it. After some time, they reach a place where a large patch 'scouring rush' or 'Me.mang Wa.dro' was growing, and the spirits began cutting it down. Realizing that the spirits referred to the scouring rush as bamboo, he grab a bundle of the plant and uprooted it effortlessly while it took multiple individuals for the spirits to carry a single stalk. The spirits were astonished by this and began to talk about his immense strength to uproot an entire bunch of bamboo. He carried several bunches of it back to the village and leave it near his mother's house. He became the talk of the town.

Some days later, the spirits decided to embark on a deer hunting expedition and Chongchongminda also accompanied them again. Equipped with nets, spears, and hunting gears, they set out to chase and capture deer. They strategically blocked all the escape routes with their nets while some of them positioned themselves uphill to drive the deer towards the nets. Chongchongminda eagerly awaited the sight of deer, but to his surprise, a swarm of grasshoppers descended upon them instead. The spirits erupted in shouts and began chasing the grasshoppers. Realizing that they refered to grasshoppers as a "Deer", he began catching them, tied them together, and fastened them around his waist. The spirits were astonished, proclaiming his exceptional strength to catch a whole bunch of deer with his bare hands and carry them around his waist. The spirits managed to capture only three deers, and it took the efforts of three or four individuals to carry each one. As they returned to the village, his feats of strength has became a topic of discussion once again. That night, he roasted the entire bunch of grasshoppers and devoured them, while the spirits cut up their deer and shared the meat with everyone. Rumors spread that Chongchongminda had consumed an entire herd of deer by himself without sharing, even his own mother claimed he ate it all. while he was fast asleep, his mother picked the remnants from his teeth and gathered a basket full of meat.

The following day, as his mother ventured to the jhum field, she instructed him to stay home and tend to the house. She asked him to dry the rice grain under the sun to get it milled and mentioned that some of her grandchildren would come to have some of the rice. She also instructed him to feed her pig if she arrived home late. Following her instructions, he took out the stored rice and began drying it under the sun, intending to mill the grain later. Unexpectedly, birds swooped down from the sky and began feasting on the grains of rice. Annoyed by it, he caught all the birds and confined them within a bamboo birdcage. Sensing his mother's tardiness, he decided to attend to the pig himself. However, when he called out for the pig, a large monitor lizard responded instead. Undeterred, he captured the lizard and pierced a hole through one side of its head to the other, tied it up and put it in a corner. Upon his mother's return, she expressed her disappointment on his mistreatment of her grandchildren, the birds, by caging them. She admonished him for his actions and ordered him to set them free, which he promptly did. He also released the monitor lizard. From that day on, it was said that the lizard bore a hole on the side of its head. He stayed with his mother at the ethereal village of the spirit for some time after that incident.

Later on, he expressed to his mother that he wanted to return to his mortal home after staying in the ethereal village for quite some time. The entire village decided to accompany him halfway, celebrating his departure with music and drums, including the melodious beats of the Kram, Dama, Rang, Bangsi, and Adil—traditional Garo instruments. However, they sternly warned him that he must not look back no matter what, as dire consequences would follow if he do so. As they reached the halfway point, they bid him farewell and he continued alone towards his home. Alas, a momentary lapse in his concentration led him to turn back, disobeying the warning. Instantly, a strange sensation washed over him, and he felt unwell. Nevertheless, he proceeded homeward, where he fell gravely ill. After two weeks of suffering, he succumbed to his ailment. 

After his death, he was once again found himself in the same ghostly village. The spirits were delighted to welcome the return of the once strong and remarkable Chongchongminda. However, this time, he had become just like them. He too, like any other ghost ended up referred to scouring rush as bamboo, grasshoppers as deer, and his previous strength had vanished. He became the subject of mockery by the other spirits because he was no longer strong and mighty Chongchongminda.

This short story is an adaptation from the Garo Folklore called 'Chongchongminda' which was passed down orally by the ancient Garo Storytellers and there are many variations of the story.

Note: In some variations of the story, the spirits refered to Ti plant or 'gokarek' in Garo Language (Cordyline fruticosa) as bamboo. However, in some variation of the story, the spirit refer to Scouring rush or 'me•mang wa•dro' (Equisetum hyemale) as bamboo.

Sangma, Dhoronsingh K. "Chongchongminda". A•chik Golporang. Part-II. 1984. pp- 26-31