Bulgaria

Legend of Rila and Pirin

A long time ago, according to the people from the village of Gorni Pasarel, which was later flooded by the Iskar damn, Rila Mountain was a woman. Her name was Rilka. She married a man from the higher lands against the will of her parents. The man was called Pirin. Rilka's parents did not want to give their only daughter to Pirin, because they knew nothing about him: where he came from, who his parents were, and how the young couple would make their living.

Rilka was a very beautiful and hard-working but rebellious girl. Whatever she decided to do, she did it and listened to neither her mom nor her dad.

The two young people got married with no wedding ceremony, or songs or party and without their parents' blessing. They went away and settled in an isolated place. Rila and Pirin had two kids: a boy, named Iskar and a girl, named Mesta. Nobody had ever heard such names before.

The father went hunting and the mother looked after the kids and the house. The two children were very naughty. All day long they were running, fighting, yelling and up to mischief. Every day Rilka was asking Pirin, begging him to talk to the kids and to help her with their upbringing with his paternal love and severity, but he did not want to listen. His main duty was to find food and clothes for his family and the rest was the obligation of the mother.

One day the brother and the sister got into serious fight. They told each other very rude words and were ready to beat each other to death. Their mother raised her arms to stop them and in her grief and with tears in her eyes, she cursed them: "May God separate you so that you never meet or see each other again. May people be afraid and run away from you. May you live with reptiles, fishes and frogs. May God turn me into stone so that I may not say a single word to you again. May I never give you any love nor be able to hug you. May trees be my children. May my body turn into earth and rocks. May my tears turn into springs and lush rivers. And, Lord, if you really exist, please turn Pirin into a mountain as well, so that people will not laugh at him because of his naughty children."

She had hardly uttered these harsh words and a bright lighting cut across the sky. A strong thunder was heard and within a minute Rilka turned into a mountain – the Rila Mountain. Pirin who was away at that moment, turned into rock and became the Pirin Mountain. The two children turned into rivers. The girl, Mesta, being gentler, ran quietly down the hills of the mountains. The boy, Iskar, who was wild and naughty, took his turbulent waters north through the mountains, crossed the Balkan Mountain and merged waters with the Danube River that was similarly unruly and uncontrollable. 

Since then Iskar has heard nothing about his sister and she has heard nothing about him. Their mother watches them over some distance but then she loses sight of them. Pirin never sees Iskar and always grieves for his boy. That is why that side of Pirin is always dark and green, and the sun very seldom shines there. He beholds his daughter, Mesta, more often and then he smiles and shines, becomes more handsome and lures people to climb up so as to enjoy the view of his beautiful daughter along with him. 

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