Sunday, December 8, 2013

India’s Traditional Ghost Tales

India is a country rich in cultural tradition and like most parts of the world this tradition includes ghost or spirit stories.

The various regions or states in India all have their own unique stories. Many of these stories--from ancient times--have been lost to the modern Indian world. Some reflect strong superstitions, others were told to teach societal norms--for instance, to encourage young people to marry, stay faithful, etc.

Since there are so many interesting ones-- for the purpose of this post, I will share ones that focus upon female ghosts or spirits. In my next post, I will share ones about male souls.

The Bachelor or Bachelorette Ghost

Cautionary Tale--Young people should marry.

In southwest India in the villages of Kamataka parents traditionally made this disparaging remark, “you will die a bachelor/ette.”

It is said if a young man or woman die before they marry, they then will return as a “disgruntled ghost” to the village where they lived. It was believed that this type of haunting brings bad luck to the living.

Spiritual healers state they see these ghosts--crying during wedding ceremonies.

The villages to protect themselves from this bad luck would traditionally hold a “ghost wedding” for two unmarried ghosts--a dowry was even provided. They would do this because it was believed that then these disgruntled ghosts, now as one, could move on--leaving the village in peace.

As recently as 2010 a “ghost wedding” was witnessed in the village of Polali. The villagers did this so two unwed ghosts that plagued the town would no longer disturb them.

Curuni Bira

A Convenient Ghost

In Assam, a state located in northeast India another ghost tale is told. In Assam “curuni” means female thief and “bira” is the Assamese version of a poltergeist. 

This traditional female ghost is a compulsive stealer who enters people’s homes and steals food from their kitchen.

This ghost was said to make loud shrills sounds--similar to a cat screeching.

Some feel Indian women while preparing food could not resist helping themselves to portions--so they created this ghost as an excuse. When asked about the missing food--they blamed it on Curuni bira.

People would even call in a traditional “ghostbuster” to get rid of these pesky ghosts. Stories about these type of spirits are rarely told today.


Cautionary Tale: Do not be seduced by a pretty face.

This female ghost inhabits South India. This spirit is said to prey on men. She haunts old wells, tamarind and coconut trees, and lonely stretches of roads found deep in forests. It is said one knows she is nearby because of the aroma of incense.

This story states that girls who commit suicide without ever knowing romance or physical pleasure--in other words they die virgins--return as a vengeful spirit.

These ghosts spend most of their time crying, but if a man catches their fancy--they turn on the charm and allure him with the sound of the “tinkling of their anklets and bangles.” They laugh and whisper “sweet nothings” in his ear.

It is said she also attracts men with her beauty, and she cooks food for them in a most unusual way. She sets her legs on fire and then cooks the food over this fire. She then extinguishes this fire and takes the prepared food to the man.

The only defense against this spirit is for the man to spit on the ground three times. The man then should ignore this spirit and never look at her--for if he does, he will be “bewitched.” 

If this happens he will suffer a terrible fate. He will wither away and lose interest in life.

It was believed if this spirits’ strong fragrance surrounds a man he will spit up blood and die.

Naala Baa

Cautionary Tale: Beware the Beggar

In Uttara Kannada, a state in Kamataka "naala baa" means, come tomorrow. This female ghost has messy hair and wears ragged clothes. Just fifty years ago, tales of this ghost were still told.

People were warned this spirit would knock at their front door asking for alms. It was believed that if they opened it and let her in this would bring bad luck or even death to the residents of the home.

It was also believed if invited in the Naala baa would be an ongoing nuisance and never leave. To prevent this ghost from causing harm, people would shout out, “Naala baa” to make her go away.

If she persisted, they would write, "Naala baa" on their front door with three lines below that represented slang for, “you get nothing.” It was believed this was the only way to get rid of her.

Today this ghost tale is no longer told.


Cautionary Tale: Another Seductress Tale

This ghost is the most notorious in the southwestern state of Kerala. It is said this kind of female spirit died a violent death. 

She floats above the trees and is “thirsty” for blood--similar to a vampire. In ancient times this ghost was only encountered deep in the forest, but more recent stories state she is seen atop tall palm trees.

The old tales state she is active when the “pala” trees bloom.

At night, she takes on the appearance of a beautiful woman and lures men back to what looks like a traditional Keralan home. But it is just an illusion for she takes them to her tree where she kills them and drinks their blood.

In the morning, some of the man’s bones are found scattered at the bottom of this tree.

The only way to fight off this spirit is to carry a knife covered in lime. It is said this prevents Yakshi from coming near.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing these Ghost Tales of India.
I just love the old tales and paranormal history of India!
Immensely interesting culture!