Folk Gathas of Kumaon
Fyonli, the alluring flower that abound the hills of Uttarakhand has a poignant folk narrative attached to its origination
By Anjali Nauriyal 

There was once a stunning damsel named Fyonli Rauteli. She lived in a remote village called Sorikot in Kumaon Himalaya.

Being the only child of her parents she was showered with immense love, especially by her father, Nagu Sauriyal.

It so happened one morning that her father was deeply engrossed in worship, while Fyonli was lost in dreams of a handsome prince, who would one day sweep her off her feet.

When suddenly the sound of the conch, jolted her out of her dream. The Sunrays that fell on her face from the window of her room, added divine radiance to her face. She looked irresistibly alluring.

Her crimson colored lips that had taken on the shade of the rhododendron flowers, competed with the redness of the rising Sun. Her winsome frame and bewitching features were amongst the best mountain features.

She gathered her long dark tresses into a casual bun, and holding her golden pot in the curve of her waist she emerged out of her hutment to collect water from the stream nearby, in the manner of a daily chore.

It was a routine ritual with her that whenever she went out to bring water, she would stop at a quiet corner to bathe in the river water. This day too was no different.
But today a new development took her by surprise.

While she was filling water in her pot, she a saw a shadow emerge on the water alongside hers. The shadow was sharp and robust, and when she turned around she found there was no one. Her eyes searched 360 degrees, and that is when she discerned a charming young man sitting on the branch of a tree, making a garland of flowers.

The two looked at each other. Their gaze interlocked. Fyonli at once dropped her gaze. Her cheeked reddened a shade darker.

The young man jumped and landed next to where Fyonli was standing on the ground. Staring at her intently he asked, “My name is Bhupu Rawat. Do you know me?”

“Yes,” she replied softly. “Your father is eyeing our village. Why have you come here?

“I am here for the sake of my loved ones. I am here in search of love,” he smilingly replied and began playing his flute to ensnare the ravishing beauty.

Fyoli was bewitched by his music and looked at him adoringly. The young man stopped playing, reached out for the garland that he had made and put it around Fyonli’s neck. He placed some flowers in her hair. Their eyes met once again and without uttering a word, the two decided to dedicate their lives to each other. They took a vow to be devoted to each other till their last breath.

Lost in each other, the two did not realize that the sun had set. When shadows began playing hide and seek amongst the trees, Fyonli realized it had become very dark and the entire day was gone in a jiffy.

She ran towards her house in fear. The moment she reached the threshold, her father who was waiting for her in anger accosted her. Seeing flowers in her hair and a garland around her neck infuriated him further.

When he asked her why she was delayed, she told him about the personable young man she had met by the riverside. Her father warned her that she should never meet that man ever again. Fyonli picked up courage to reply that she would take her life if she was disallowed to marry this man.
At this her father was infuriated. He pushed her in anger and Fyonli fell to the ground dead.

Seeing his lifeless daughter, the father began grieving profusely. But the damage had been done. Fyonli by now had reached Indralok. All the Devtas were filled with remorse seeing Fyonli’s predicament and untimely death.

The Devtas then blessed Fyoli that she would never be forgotten on Earth but would be worshipped in the month of Chaith. And humans will sing songs praising her beauty. And at the time of worship of Kul Devta she would be placed at the entrance of households.

The moment the Gods uttered those words, an exquisite, pretty as a picture yellow flower popped up on the surface of the Earth and is known far and wide as the charming and alluring Fyonli.

(Dr Anjali Nauriyal, veteran journalist, author, actor and social worker is currently Senior Fellow with Ministry of Culture, GOI)