Bigăr Waterfall, the Princess of Banat Mountains in Romania, was born out of a legend about love and collapse.
Bigăr Waterfall, a Legend of Love
It was a time of joys and of tears, a time when tomorrow could bring death or peace – and for either one they would have been grateful – therefor only today mattered. Tomorrow was given to the gods, yesterday belonged to the dead, and only today was theirs.
Such were the believes of the people of Almăj Country, a land nestled in the palm of three mountains, and washed by the springs of Nera River that bordered many lands, seen and unseen.
One such young family, especially, lived by the laws of nature, and the spiritual beliefs of their clan. It’s been the way it’s always been done. Only that… only that it hasn’t worked for them, not fully. And although they did not want to show remorse, they did. And although they did not want to feel envy, they did.
For one thing, and one thing alone missed from this life they shared. And it wasn’t something that the husband could have crafted, like a roof over their heads or a bed to rest on. Nor was it something the wife could have done to warm up their backs, or their bellies.
They had no child. No child to smile over, or worry over; no child to hold, or to feed, no child whose future to wish for.
Of course they tried everything they knew, and everything they’ve been advised – and everyone knew something! She even ate apples, and lots of them, but stayed clear of Morning Glory brews…. It still didn’t work. Until one night, one night when she dreamed, or so she thought… perhaps she was awake and only thought she’d been dreaming for it’s been such an extraordinary encounter, that scared her, but filled her with hope too… Until one night when a witch whispered in her ear what to do to have a child.
It was a simple thing, such an easy thing to do. She felt her heart soaring when she woke up in the morning to a bright, sunny day, and she was laughing and almost singing when she was telling her husband all about it, while packing a few things for the road.
‘ A drink,’ she smiled, ‘just a sip of sweet water from the spring.’
His eyebrows jumped, and his eye flew out the window.
‘From its source, where it’s the sweetest. And find it I must. At the border between lands.’
He thought he knew, for Nera River bordered their country and the Serbian land to the south. A mere day’s walk. And he smiled back.
‘Inwards, I must go,’ she said taking the sheep skin they kept for winter, ‘and follow the path through the caves.’
He frowned, then picked up the pig fat they used for candle making, and the hollow reeds, intend to join her. They’ll need light.
‘Alone,’ she smiled and hugged him and before he knew it she was out the door, jumping down the path. To hide her tears. For what she hasn’t shared with him. For if a girl was born, she could never fall in love and know the love they shared, or she will die.
She found the spring, hidden at the end of a black and frigid cave. She found it and, giddy with joy, she pushed at the back of her mind the dreary seed of a memory from a dream she’d had the night before, a dream that brought her immense hope, but also chilled her. For she’d chosen to remember only the good.
She found the spring and she drank. Forgetting about the chill from the dream. Forgetting that she was at the border between worlds… Then she returned, and happy were they for, in due course, they were blessed with a child.
And they were now a family like any other family of their clan, while years passed, and their daughter grew. Beautiful and sweet, and surely smart too.
And nature’s law took its course, and she fell in love with a boy named Bigar. And the mother cried, and cried, and she cried some more, then told the father about the witch’s warning. So the father, who was a do-er, took their daughter by the hand, took sheep skins and food, and all he could carry, and into the cave they disappeared. The only place he knew of that was secret to the world. The only place he dared hide his daughter. To save her life.
The girl bargained, and promised, and cried. In vain.
What else could the father do? What else could the mother do now?
If they could just keep her safe till she forgot all about Bigar, and Bigar forgot all about her.
Yet the girl cried some more, and no one heard her. No one but the witch, who lived deeper still, and not on this world, but in the other world, the Land of Regained Longing.
Had the witch smiled? We don’t know. Perhaps she shed a tear at the parent’s pain and at the girl’s turmoil. She must have, for she cast a spell to ease the maiden’s sorrow.
Just like that, the girl’s long hair turned into a waterfall and her tears, instead of staining her plump cheeks, rolled outwards, till they pilled down the mountain slope and filled the valley nestled below. A waterfall weaved out of crystal-clear tears, weaved together with a fine thread of silk.
Legend says that Bigar heard of the miraculous waterfall, came to see it, but all he could hear in the falling water were his girl’s sobs. He thought she was below, he leaned to see her and collapsed to his death.
Yet they were reunited, in the Land of Regained Longing.
Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.
Sadly, a part of Bigăr Waterfall collapsed on Monday, 7 June:
Built of calcareous stone, part of the waterfall – its pyramidal protrusion dressed in moss and hanging delicately like a wedding veil – collapsed under the weight of accumulated moss and rock formation debris.
Between seven and eight meters tall, the Bigăr Waterfall tells the story of a strong spring, Izbucul Bigăr how the locals fondly call it, that pours from the innards of the mountains, crosses a cave and spills outwards in Miniş River.
In 2013 World Geography website included Bigăr Waterfall on its Eight Unique Waterfalls around the World list.
The 45th parallel north crosses Romania in the vicinity of Bigăr Waterfall.
With great thanks to my husband who brought the latest news concerning the Bigăr Waterfall to my attention 🙂
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