Mizoram folklore | A heart-breaking story behind Rih Dil Lake


By C. Lalrinfela | July 07, 2019:

Rih Dil also known as 'The Heart Shaped Lake' is a lake located about 22 km from Champhai district of Mizoram. Being one of the most prominent tourist destinations, it has ample of visitors per year. It has an important historical significance in Mizo ancestral belief.

As foretold by the ancestors, it is believed to be a haven for the spirits of the deceased to dwell after death, an afterlife myth. The lake is also believed to possess hidden treasures at the depth. A spear holding serpent is believed to guard the lake.

As every destination has a mesmerizing story behind, the tale of how Rih Dil came to existence is heart breaking, one that will create an enticing and captivating notion to the readers.

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Long ago, there lived a girl named Rih-i. She had a younger sister. Since their mother died when they were very small, they were close and inseparable as a finger and a thumb. They lived with their father who soon married another woman. Their new stepmother was inhuman to them, never showing any affection or compassion. She made them do the toughest of the harvest work to be done.  With the elapse of time, cruelty did not provide enough space in her revengeful heart, she decided to murder them.

One day, she strongly expressed her atrocity for her stepdaughters and told her husband that if he did not get rid of his daughters, she would leave him for good. Being left with no choice and after a long consideration, he chose his wife and decided to find a way to discard his daughters. Carrying an intention to kill his daughters, he invited his younger daughter to accompany him for the agricultural work. Often, she followed her father to work to avoid mistreatment from her stepmother. She jubilantly followed her father as instructed.  

When they reached the field, they gather vegetables. As it was getting dark, they decided to head back home. All of a sudden, the father stabbed his daughter, cut off her head and bosoms and later threw it in a far away place, where nobody will find them and head back home.

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Rih-i was pondering as to why they were taking so much time to come back home. On her father's arrival, she was shocked as her little sister was nowhere to be seen. She grew worried and repetitiously asked her father of her sister's whereabouts of which he made up lame excuses.

As dusk approached, Rih-i came to understand the whole scenario of the fact that her beloved sister has been murdered by her father. Completely grief stricken, she wept day in and day out, wondering about the day when she would also be killed by her father. She made a decision to venture out in search for her sister's corpse. When she found the headless corpse of her sister, she wept heavily and it was only later that she recovered her sister's head. She however, could not find the bosoms which added more sadness to her bemoaning heart.

In the midst of her grief, she felt asleep. She was seen by a Khuavang (Fairy) who enquired about the reason behind her sadness. When Rih-i meticulously explained the heart breaking incident, the kind fairy promised to bring her sister back to life. She instructed Rih-i to go to the forest and find an ordinary branch that has only one magical leaf. The fairy told her to rub the magical leaf in her hands and then apply it on her sister's corpse. After following the instruction meticulously, her sister was brought back to life.

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The reunion was an euphoric moment. The saddest part was, the younger sister did not have any bosom as it was cut off by their father. Under the sultry weather, the younger sister was suffering from dehydration. So, Rih-i took pity on her sister and used the magic leaf to transform herself into a stream to ensure that her younger sister gets enough water to survive. The younger sister settled in that area as she depended on her sister for life to cure her thirst.

One fine day, a younger hunter was wondering through the forest. On seeing her, he was completely in love with her as if it was love at first sight. Why do you stay in the jungle? he asked her to which she explained everything; on hearing the story, he fell deeply in love with her and chose to stay with her in the jungle. They stayed in the jungle and produce offsprings.

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After giving birth to three children, they decided to visit the in-laws. When the in-laws found that she had no breast, she was abused and was suspected to be a demon. Shamed and abused, the couple chose to run away to a far flung destination where nobody can find them.

As soon as Rih-I heard the news of her sister's misfortune, she turned into a large white mithun and decided to run away. When she reached Khawdar, she chose to settle there and turn into an enormous lake. That is how the lake Rih Dil is believed to be born.

References:  Mizo Thawnthu – Volume V, Lalhmachhuana Zofa

ABOUT THE WRITER: C. Lalrinfela is a student of Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU), Shillong and is currently an intern with TNT- The Northeast Today. Travelling, photography, feature writing are some of his hobbies. He can be reached at crinfela@gmail.com