In the southeastern state of Odisha, the indigenous Sora tribe believe that their ancestors had tails. Legend has it that the humans during those times had long, sleek tails. These tails would swish and sweep the road behind them as they walked around. All was well and good until the population began to increase.

The rate at which the population rose all but ensured that chaos was just a matter of time. As the streets and markets became more crowded, people began stepping on and tripping over each other’s tails. Things quickly spiraled out of control. Soon, there was not a single person who had not stepped on others’ tails or had had no one tread on theirs. From the marketplace to the potters’ sheds, cries and shouts became commonplace.

Amidst this pandemonium, the God Kitunga, or Jagannatha, paid a visit to the Sora tribe. As usual, the marketplace was brimming with people. As the Lord walked around, a passerby stepped on His tail, knocking Him down. Injured as He was, He even lost two of His teeth.

Lord Jagannatha slowly got up as two of His teeth fell out of His mouth. People had started to flock around Him, unable to contain their laughter. The sound of their laughter echoed in the Lord’s ears. It agitated Him so much that He plucked His tail out as He rose to His feet. He took the tail in His hands and dumped it on the ground. Soon, the tails of everyone around Him fell down as well.

All the tails slithered away, with the Lord’s tail turning into a palm tree and those of the worldly beings becoming tall grass blades. The Sora tribesmen then began tying those tall grass blades into fat bundles, using them to sweep the floor. Within a few days, the peace that had prevailed before the population explosion was restored.

It is for this reason that the elders say that change and evolution are the only constants.

…now that you’re here

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Ananya Susarla, Folk Tale writer at Ameya

Ananya loves to both read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Shoot her an email at if you would like to know more about her.

Folk tale adapted and abridged from Folktales of India.