Ghosts and other such spooky elements have always captured popular imagination. Their existence is widely debated and both sides have equally ardent points of view. Each geographical region too tends to have its share of unique spooky elements and many such stories have become the stuff of legends.
Ghost busting is a recognised activity, one that even found place in reality television series. And the paranormal also make for entertainment by way of many well acclaimed horror films, as also the presence of ‘haunted houses’ in amusement parks and malls.
Assam, in particular, seems to have its fair share of ghosts. Interestingly, each kind seem to have well specified domains of operation. Allow me to briefly acquaint you with the most popular kinds of paranormal visitors that I was told about during my formative years.
Bura dangoria (the old one). This one’s a good spirit that dresses in white clothes and even accessorises with a white turban. It is often seen on a white horse guarding Namghars — the community places of worship where the sacred Bhagavad Gita is kept.
Baak. A malevolent ugly creature that sometimes kills a person and takes on the corpse’s appearance. A baak is often seen around isolated ponds and lakes.
Ghoda paak. This sinister creature has the hooves of a horse, but it is otherwise human looking. Some stories suggest it as being helpful. Others, meanwhile, seem to consider it so deadly that one could allegedly die if a ghoda paak looks at you. This one sure calls for extra caution.
Bira (poltergeist). Like all poltergeists of the world, the bira is usually believed to be unleashed on a family by an enemy to eliminate and torture them.
Bamboo ghost. This one lurks in bamboo groves and bends down a bamboo as you try and walk amid the grove. If you try to step over this apparition, it will snap the bamboo back in an attempt to kill you. And it does so without any provocation apparently.
Jokhini. A female demon like creature that often tries to lure males and kill them. Legend has it that there are some who are still in their mortal form and are found in abundance.
Bordoisila (the storm goddess). She manifests in the form of storms in April. She then throws a tantrum because she has to return to her husband’s house following a visit to her mother’s for the Assamese new year which falls in mid-April.
Puwali bhoot (tiny ghosts). These are mischievous ghosts the size of small children who steal rice and sweets from the kitchen.
Khoba-khubi. A pair of evil spirits who haunt newly wedded couples and can be scared away by reading the hara-gauri (Shiva-Parvati) mantra on the third day of marriage.
Khetar. A local evil spirit that is said to harm little children.
Churini bira. A female evil spirit that steals items from the house and kitchen.
I trust you are now well versed to go a little ghost busting if you so desire. And in the event you do have a rendezvous with one, make sure to document the story for posterity.