Gurgles Of Laughter
The state of Arunachal has many beautiful rivers running through it. All types of rivers run this terrain: the cheerful one like Dirang, the sombre peaceful one like Subansiri, the historically and mythologically famous one like the Lauhitya, the fierce and majestic one like the Siang and the individualistic one like the Siku, referred to as the mad one which changes course every now and then.
The waters of Arunachal have a rare distinction: they are still very pure and unpolluted. They change colours with the sun's rays and even seem to emote with the changing time and seasons. While some of them are described for their beauty, others are better known for the legends associated with them.
Most of the rivers run north to south in this state. They thus divide the state and make travel across it quite difficult. The important rivers are Siang, Kameng Subansiri, Dirang, Lohit/Lauhitya, Tawang, Dibhang and Tirap. The waters of Lauhitya and Siang Rivers together make the Brahmaputra when it descends to the plains.
RIVER LOHIT OR LAUHITYA
Lauhitya is today better known as Lohit. A whole district is named after the river that flows from north to south on the eastern side of Arunachal. On the either banks of the river live the Mishmis, the Singhos and the Khampti tribes.
Legends Behind The Rivers Origin
The Mishmis tell a charming story on the origin of river Lohit. Once upon a time, there were two deities, Khrane and Matai. Together they created the sun, moon and the earth. Having made all these, they felt there should be some creatures on earth so that the earth could look more beautiful. Khrane made a model that Matai tried to copy. But he could not. So they called Khrane's model a woman and Matai's model a man.
Then they wanted to make more creatures. Matai made the model of a small human hand and called it "Sang-Khran". They had created a crab. The crab bore a hole in the ground and lo and behold! Water came splurging onto the ground. The crab then moved a little distance away and bore another hole and another spring spurted. Khrane and Matai told the waters to take their own course and one of them was Lohit, born, as it were, of a crab.
How did it acquire the name Lohit? One contention is that this river, which flows down from the snow clad Himalayas , was called "Luhit" in old Bodo dialect. Later, it was Sanskritised to read as "Lauhitya".
Another school of thought says that the name Lohit has Sanskrit origins and actually means the red river. Not that the waters are red but a mythological story colours it so.
According To Ancient Texts
Lauhitya is a river that finds mention in many ancient texts including the Kalika Purana. It is in the waters of this river that sage Parashuram is said to have washed off his sins. Recollect the famous story of how Parashuram at the command of his father Jamadagni severed the head of his mother Renuka with an axe. As a result, the crime of matricide got stuck to his hand.
On the other hand, Parashuram's father was extremely pleased to have such an obedient son and told Parashuram that he would grant him anything he wished. Naturally, the son asked for his mother's life first. That being granted, Parashuram asked his father to grant him a boon so that the sin of matricide may be washed off his hands. Jamadagni told his son to go on a pilgrimage. Parashuram thus went and finally reached the Lohit River in the northeastern corner of India.
Legend Of Parashuram's Penance
According to mythology, the first thing Parashuram did was to release the river from its restraining space. He cut off a passage from the river Lohit. This area is known as "Brahma Kund". Even today, it is considered sacred and people travel miles to have a dip in this river. Near Brahma Kund, there is another spot known as Prashuram Kund.
At this place Parashuram is said to have jumped into the cool waters of the river. The moment he did so, the axe that he held came unstuck from his hands and he held came unstuck from his hands and he was freed from the sins of matricide. The blood he washed off his hands is said to have made the waters red and so the name Lauhitya. Although the site of Parashuram Kund is said to have been destroyed with an earthquake that shook the region in 1950, the river, call it Lohit or Lauhitya, flows on.