The legend of Tou Lvn

Bengia Ajum & Sanju Dodum

Recently, Education Minister Taba Tedir, who is the local MLA of Yachuli assembly constituency, inaugurated a replica of the legendary Tou Lvn, constructed near the dam viewpoint site in Lower Subansiri district. The story behind Tou Lvn is very famous in the Nyishi community, in particular in the Subansiri belt.

It is believed that, once there used to be a couple by the names of Rikham Pada and Rinyam Yami, who loved each other dearly. They lived in a place which was very windy and it often made life very difficult for them. The place is believed to be located in between the present day Potin and the NEEPCO dam site.

As they lived near the Panyor river, the heavy winds would make life difficult for the couple. Rikham Pada saw that Rinyam Yami would struggle to do everyday tasks due to the constant winds. This bothered him a lot.

One day, he set his mind to fix this problem once and for all. He found a big boulder and decided to use it to cover the direction from which the winds blew forth so fiercely.

He placed the boulder on his back and made his way through the Panyor river towards his destination.

Suddenly a bird appeared from nowhere and flew into his nostrils, making him sneeze with such force that he lost his balance. The boulder slipped from his back and fell on his legs, crushing them.

Trapped and helpless, Rikham Pada drowned in the raging waters of the Panyor river with thoughts of his beloved Rinyam Yami in his mind.

When Rinyam Yami heard the news, she was devastated and overcome with grief. She spent the rest of her life lamenting her beloved Rikham Pada and his fond memories.

Unfortunately, the boulder is no longer visible, since it has been submerged by the NEEPCO dam, but even today the spot where it fell is known as Tou Lvn. The locals still talk about Tou Lvn.

The replica of Tou Lvn is not only a tribute to the tragic love story of Rikham Pada and Rinyam Yami, but also a symbol of one of the most enduring legends of the Nyishi tribe and its cultural renaissance.

The story of Rikham Pada and Rinyam Yami is associated with some more legends surrounding the area they once inhabited.

One of the most iconic songs of the Nyishi tribe is ‘Rikham Pada’, which is sung along with a dance performance in every Nyishi festival and celebration. It is believed that the first words of the songs were uttered by Rinyam Yami as she weaved cloth in a traditional loom while remembering her beloved Rikham Pada.

The top part of the loom is called pottom in Nyishi, and it is believed that the place where Rinyam Yami latched it was named after it and today we know it as Potin. According to legend, the traditional loom was so big that the top end was attached to Potin and the lower end to Tou Lvn.

The middle part of the loom fell in an area in between, known as ‘Chunggew Yorn’. It is said that, in the olden days, people used to pass through ‘Chunggew Yorn’ as they travelled between Potin and Tou Lvn.

In that area, there is a particular spot called ‘Chunggew Lith’, where people would rest and eat while travelling. This place has a special significance in local mythology; it has two trees which are believed to be representations of a male and a female spirit who preside over the area. As per olden beliefs, it is said that those who are passing through it should leave behind wood, sticks, or offerings of some kind near the two trees in order to not feel fatigued and to reach their destination safely.

Tou Lvn and its surrounding areas, Potin, Chunggew Yorn, and Chunggew Lith are not only blessed with natural beauty with tremendous potential for tourism, but also steeped in local mythology, making it so much more important to the larger Nyishi identity and culture.