“U Thlen” A Creature Of Khasi Folklore.

October is the official month for scares. Even though I do not celebrate Halloween, I thought I’d share a scary story with all of you. It’s my way of contributing to Spooktober. I decided to share this urban legend that prevails among us Khasi’s because of two reasons. One, I wanted to write a short story based on it. Since most of my readers are not Khasi, I thought it’s only fitting that I give a brief account about it. And the other reason is I came across an article on the Thlen by Scoopwhoop where most of the facts were wrong. Seeing the inaccurate information displayed for the world to see did not sit well with me.

U Thlen or The Thlen is one of the most famous urban legends that exist in our society. I’ve heard countless stories about it since I was a child and even studied about it when I was in class ten from one of the most famous Khasi books to be published. It is a collection of short stories called “Ki Khannatang bad U Sier Lapalang” by Primrose Gaiphoh. All the information about The Thlen written in this post is taken from this book and the knowledge that has been passed down to me. 

Legend has it that there existed a malevolent creature in the form of a giant serpent that lived in a cave near Daiñ Thlen Falls. It is a beautiful waterfall that is located in the number one tourist spot in Meghalaya, which is Sohra. During those ancient days, there existed a well-known village where the local market thrived. This village was located on the road between Sohra leading to Phudumsning and Nongsteng. However, in modern-day Meghalaya, this village no longer exists. 

It is said that this creature often feasted on people who passed by his cave. Whenever people walked passed, this cave in odd numbers, one of them would mysteriously disappear. But when they happened to walk in even numbers, no harm would befall them. As people started disappearing from the village and their numbers began dwindling, they prayed to God and asked for help. Seeing the misery and the confusion of the people, God appointed a minor god “U ‘Lei Shyllong” to look into the matter. 

After he surveyed the entire area, “U ‘Lei Shyllong” found out that the disappearance of the people in that village was caused by the giant serpent living in the cave near Daiñ Thlen Falls. He ordered a saint named Syiem Syrmoh, also known as Law Suidnoh, to kill this demonic creature. Knowing that the beast had been feasting on human flesh for years, Law Suidnoh heated an iron rod till it became red before carrying it to the mouth of the cave. Thinking that the red hot piece of iron was a pound of juicy fat; the giant snake opened its maw. 

At that moment, Law Suidnoh threw in the hot piece of iron into the serpent’s gullet and burned its entire throat. As the giant snake thrashed wildly, it caused a massive earthquake shaking Sohra violently, leading to various avalanches and the formation of cliffs in that region. After a few minutes, the serpent died. Law Suidnoh reassured the people of the village that the menace was over. On hearing the good news, the villagers rejoiced. Law Suidnoh ordered them not to leave the body of the serpent as it was because if they did, he would come back to life and they would not be able to kill it ever again.

The people of the village gathered at Daiñ Thlen Falls and brought the massive serpent out of its cave, washed the creature, carved it into tiny pieces and began feasting on its body. Following what Law Suidnoh had told them, the villagers vowed to finish every single piece of meat to prevent the Thlen from returning. The Hindu’s finished their share of meat and so did the Khasi’s. 

However, an old Khasi woman and reserved a piece of meat for her grandchild since she could not attend the great feast. Days passed, and the old lady completely forgot about the piece of meat that she had saved until she heard a tiny voice from the box she had stored it in. The Thlen had come back to life. Out of guilt and shame for not following the orders given by Law Suidnoh, she told no one about what she had done and hid the creature underneath her bed. The Thlen eventually made a deal with the old woman saying that it would give her untold riches if she would worship him and provide him with human blood.  

They say that since that day, the Thlen had begun living in human households and began preying on Khasi people particularly because unlike the Hindu’s, they never finished their portion of the meat. People who rear the Thlen are known as Nongshohnoh, which can be loosely translated to,“ the one who beats.” When they come across people who seem interesting enough, especially children they would subtly cut off the tips of their hair or nails or clothing of their victims. They would offer it to the Thlen who would consume the victim’s soul through these hair clippings, nail clippings or clothes. The victim would fall ill and their body would deteriorate to the point where he or she would become critically ill and would eventually die.

Even to this day, people have a firm believe in the Thlen. A few wealthy families are suspected to rear it and people try their best to avoid them. Personally, I don’t believe in it. I think it’s an urban legend that was told to showcase how vulnerable we humans are to other creatures, how consequences can occur from the mistakes we make and our jealousy towards people who are rich and successful that we often create stories that are not true to soil their reputation.

 To prevent their children from talking to strangers, Khasi parents often scare them with stories of Nongshohnoh and the Thlen. As a child, I was terrified of the Thlen but, it didn’t stop us, youngsters, from talking about it whenever we sat around the bonfire to talk about ghost stories.  

Let me know your thoughts about this urban legend. Whether you believe in the Thlen or not let me know in the comment section. As a person who lives in Meghalaya, my advice to you is you should go see the Daiñ Thlen falls in Sohra. They are beautiful and majestic. If you want to know more about Khasi culture and our folktales, please let me know so that I can make more posts like this one in the future. I hope you enjoyed reading this urban legend of ours.  

Dain Thlen Falls taken from Google Images.
A Picture of Dain Thlen Falls from my trek.

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