It’s Valentine’s Day, so love is in the air.
It’s a day when people watch romantic movies and play sappy- love songs on loop. It’s a day when many recall famous couples and celebrate their love, fictional or otherwise.
TV and silver-screen couples like Jake-Amy, Jim-Pam, Veer-Zara, Oliver-Elio, and Jack-Rose are favorites among romance lovers, but so are some of the mythological love stories that have been popular for generations and are still enjoyed today. They have stood the test of time.
Radha and Krishna’s love have been immortalized with innumerable ballads, dances, and paintings. Still, theirs is not the only epic love story to come out of mythology and folklore.
Here are some other mythological couples whose stories are beautiful and tragic, just like that of Radha- Krishna.
Hyacinth And Apollo
I have always liked the Hyacinthus flowers, but when I heard about the love story associated with them, they became even more beautiful to me.
Hyacinth was a Spartan prince and Apollo’s lover. One day the two decide to practice throwing the discus. Apollo sends the disc flying with such strength that it scatters the clouds.
To impress him, Hyacinth runs behind it to catch it, but the disc bounces back and hits him in the head, effectively killing him.
A grieving Apollo promises that he would remember Hyacinth in his songs and to honor him he makes the flowers of Hyacinthus bloom out of his lover’s blood.
This tale is important as it is one of the few stories that revolve around homosexual love.
Niulang And Zhinu
The Qixi festival in China celebrates the epic love story of a cowherd and a weaver girl on the seventh day of every seventh Lunar month, according to the Chinese calendar.
Zhinu, the seventh daughter of the heavenly Queen Mother and the Jade Emperor, descends to earth and falls in love with Niulang, an honest and kind-hearted cowherd. They start a family with two children, but when the goddess finds out that her daughter is married to a mortal she takes her back to heaven.
Niulang’s ox helps him to fly to heaven to reconcile with his wife. However, the goddess puts a great obstacle before him by slashing her hair-pin across the sky and creating the Milky Way galaxy in the process.
According to Chinese constellations, Zhinu became the star Vega and Niulang became the star Altair. They were separated by the two ends of the heavenly river but seeing their devotion towards each other, magpies formed a bridge for the couples to meet and the goddess allowed their reunion for a single day which is now celebrated as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Dushyanta And Shakuntala
Puru King Dushyanta and hermit girl Shakuntala fall in love at first sight and marry in a Gandharva ceremony (marriage through mutual consent with nature as a witness).
Dushyanta promises to send an envoy to bring her to his castle and gives her a signet ring. Shakuntala offends the sage (as she was lost in her memories about Dushyanta) when the sage stopped at her hut for hospitality.
Consequently, Rishi Durvasa places a curse on her that the person whose thoughts have engrossed Shakuntala won’t remember her anymore.
After much pleading, he alters his curse such that his memory will come back when he sees a souvenir, but the signet ring is accidentally lost in the river. The king doesn’t recognize her when she appears before him in his court.
However, the signet ring is recovered from the stomach of a fish and on seeing it Dushyanta gets his memories back and reunites with Shakuntala. She gives birth to Bharata, after whom India gets her name.
Orpheus And Eurydice
Orpheus and Eurydice fell in love and got married. One day Aristaeus, a shepherd saw Eurydice and beguiled by her beauty, he began to chase after her. When she tried to escape from him she got bitten by a snake and died.
Orpheus sang about his grief which touched the hearts of gods and mortals alike. On Apollo’s advice, Orpheus descends to the underworld to meet his wife.
He encounters ghosts, charms Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the underworld’s gate, and presents himself before Hades, the ruler of the Underworld. The melody of Orpheus’s lyre made Persephone, Hades’ wife, plead on his behalf.
Hades agrees to let Eurydice go, but if you’re familiar with romantic plots you know there is always a catch. Hades places a condition that Orpheus shouldn’t look back until they’re both out of the Underworld and into the light.
When the couple was a few feet away from the exit Orpheus turns to see if Eurydice is following him and this mistake led to Eurydice being whisked away to the underworld again.
Hey, there is a reason sorrowful tales are compared with Greek tragedies.
These lovers faced many troubles and not all of them had a happily ever after, but the message of these stories is to fight for one’s love and to not give up. If obstacles as large as galaxies couldn’t stop them then surely we can try to sort out our quarrels and differences which prevent us from being happy?
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