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Is there a reason you chose to get a tiger tattoo?

"No, not really"

The Legend of Bonobibi


Shraddha Bajpai, 22

From West Bengal

Recited the story in English

Bono means Forest and Bibi means lady, translating to Lady of the forest. She was an abandoned child, the daughter of a Fakir. She was raised by a female deer. He had a twin brother, called Shah Jongli, meaning the wild king. They’re both deities of the Sundarbans.

Sundarbans has really saline water, all the organisms there have adapted to these conditions. Legend goes that the royal Bengal tiger is more ferocious a species than the rest, because it has only drunk saline water its whole life. They have the bad rep of being man eaters, so the people of the Sundarbans, all religions, Hindus, Muslims, everyone, prays to Bonoibi to keep them safe.

A lot of these people live in the pockets of the Delta, in the marshes. Their main source of income or sustainaince is fruit picking or honey harvesting in the forest, leading to very often unfortunate encounters with tigers. Their mythology depicts this in the form of a demon tiger king, called Dokkhin Rai. Dokkhin means south, translating his name to the South King. Someone translated his name to “The King Down Below” which I thought was very metal, love that.

The lore goes that Dokkhin Rai was harassing the villagers a lot, Bonobibi comes and defeats him. However, instead of banishing him, she asks him to coexist and not eat humans. Even today, if you go to the Sundarbans, you’ll see shrines dedicated to Bonobibi and her brother. They have really tiny theatre groups, and brilliantly coloured theatres, where they show Bonobibi getting married, or her defeating Dokkhin rai, it is really an experience. All the props for these theatres are constructed out of the wood that people themselves pick, paint and polish.

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