Nguu Lang, Chuc Nu- The legend of the Milky Way

Published:  15:03 Tuesday - November 15, 2011 The Milk Way is the river in the sky. It is called "Ngân Hà".

Nguu Lang Chuc Nu

The Princess Chuc Nu was the most beautiful of all of the Jade Emperor's daughters and also the most skillful and hard-working. Every day she would come out and sit by her loom on the terraces or gardens of the Heavenly Palace, and until nightfall she would weave, the shuttle unceasingly dancing back and forth, clickety-clack, clickety-clack, in her slim hands. From her loom would come out rich and beautiful fabrics that all the Genies, Fairies and Elves of her father's Court used for their gowns. All day her loom would sing its busy little song next to the whispering of the trees and the trills of the birds of Paradise.

And every day Nguu Lang the shepherd would come out with the Jade Emperor's herds and would graze them in the heavenly meadows. Every day he would see the Princess diligently working at her loom and could not but marvel at how beautiful she was, how graceful her movements, how perfect her face and bearing. He would stand there and stare at her for hours on end, lost in admiration, and only the bleating of a stray calf or the mournful moaning of a buffalo cow that had stepped on a wandering cloud and could not get back to the meadow grass would recall him to his duties. But for all his mooning, he never neglected the herds and always acquitted himself well of his task. Everything was well and orderly in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The shepherd was a rather good-looking fellow himself, and it was not long before the Princess noticed him. She would look up and see this handsome young man gazing at her with undisguised adoration and, after a while, she smiled back. They exchanged a few words and it was not long before she, too, fell in love with him and they pledged their troth. Nguu Lang could not believe his good fortune.

The Legend of Milky Way

The Jade Emperor was not class-conscious. He did not mind one of his daughters marrying a shepherd. He gave them his blessing, his only condition being that they would not stop working after they were married. There was a great feast and much rejoicing in the Heavens.

After the honeymoon, the young couple meant to settle down to work again. But Heaven's gardens were so delightful, there were so many flowering meadows to walk through, so many tinkling brooks to sit holding hands by, so many bird-filled woods to explore, so many nooks and crannies in the mountains dotted with cotton clouds to wander and hide in to whisper sweet nothings to each other, that they forgot all about working. A year passed, and still in the morning the woods and meadows and brooks called to them and they neglected herds and loom. They were, after all, young and beautiful and in love, and the Heavens were their own private garden. Can anyone who has ever been in love find it in their heart to blame them?

However, the Jade Emperor knew nothing about the sweetness of love. All he knew was that his herds roamed all over the Heavens' fields, wreaking havoc among the gardens, eating the flowers, trampling the sweet grasses. And that spiders weaved their webs on the abandoned loom, while the whole Court waited in vain for new gowns.

The Emperor was as stern as he had been kind. When he found out what was happening, his anger was terrible to behold. In one stroke of his hand, he opened up the heavenly meadows and through them he made a cut: a great, impassable river of shimmering silver. Then he decreed that the young couple would be parted, one on either side of the Silver River, and that they would have to work apart forever after.
Nguu Lang - Chuc Nu
Since then, Nguu Lang and Chuc Nu helplessly look at each other from across the Silver River. They have not stopped loving each other and pining for one another but they cannot meet again - except once every year when the Jade Emperor relents just a little bit. That is the seventh month of the Lunar Year, which is called the Month of the Ngau's. This is the month of the end of summer, and the start of autumn's drenching rains.

In that month, should you happen to be in the countryside down here on Earth, the farmers will point out to you that there is not a raven or crow to be seen: they have all flown up to the Heavens to support the bridge crossing the Silver River to allow the star-crossed lovers to get together. Yes, for a brief time, there is a bridge they can cross so they can meet again.

Every year, when that happens, Nguu Lang and Chuc Nu weep for joy. When they must part again for another long, lonely year, again their tears flow. That is why it rains so much on the seventh month. They call it the Ngau's rains. Now you know why.

That is why it rains torrentially at the beginning of the seventh lunar month in Vietnam. If you happen to be in the countryside during this month, you do not expect to find any ravens. They are believed to have flown to the sky to help carry the bridge across the river for the reunion of Chuc Nu and Nguu Lang and if you look at the sky on clear nights, you may see the Silver River which looks like a long milky white strip. Therefore, it is called “Ngân hà” (The Milky Way).

Ngan Ha

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