The fear of the unknown takes on many forms in India. They assume shape in the folklore of the regions and are usually entities that are as deadly as they are entertaining. Here are some of the most feared supernatural entities from the stories of our country.
1. Muhnochwa – Scratches your face violently, and has reportedly killed multiple people.
Muhnochwa literally means a creature that scratches its victim’s face violently. During the early 2000s, the Muhnochwa inexplicably became the most talked about phenomenon among the town folk of Kanpur. It was rumored to attack its prey in the thick of night, jumping on your face and scratching away any semblance of recognition. The ‘Face scratcher’ reportedly killed seven and injured several others.
2. The Aleya Ghost Lights – Lead people off the safe path and to their doom.
Inhabiting the hazy swamps of West Bengal, these lights, according to local beliefs, are the spirits of fishermen who lost their lives. They’re usually described as smoky apparitions that lead people off the safe path and drown them in the murky depths.
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3. Nishi Dak – Call out to its victims using a familiar voice before killing them.
Essentially translating to ‘The Call of the Dark’ in Bengali, this evil spirit apparently calls out to its victims in the night, using the voice of someone close to the person. It initially appears slightly far away, leading the victim to a deserted area where it reveals its true terrifying form before taking their life.
A Nishi can only call out a person’s name twice.
4. Nale Ba – A witch that knocks on doors, and kills the unlucky few who open up.
In some areas of Bengaluru, people believe there’s a witch who walks the streets visiting people’s houses and knocking on their doors. Opening the door basically guarantees certain death so you have to write ‘nale ba’ i.e ‘come tomorrow’ on the front door of your house. Seeing this gives you a day’s respite from this wayward witch. That’s why April 1 is celebrated as Nale Ba day in some parts of Bengaluru.
5. Baak – An aqueous creature that hides its victims deep underwater.
In Assam, people believe the Baak is a grotesque looking creature that inhabits ponds and lakes. It is notorious for its murderous nature – After killing the victim, it hides the body in deep waters, takes on the corpse’s appearance and goes out in search of more prey. It also loves eating fish.
6. Daula – Bends bamboo sticks which then hurt passing villagers.
This strange spectre, believed to inhabit every Assamese village, apparently bends down bamboo shoots which fall on your path. As you walk over them, they release and get you right in the nads. Honestly, I can’t think of anything scarier.
7. Boba – A creature that attacks people in their sleep.
In Bengali culture, the Boba is a malevolent entity that attacks people who are sleeping on their backs. It strangles them to death, and is believed to be a more supernatural explanation for sleep paralysis.
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8. Pishach – A demon that possesses people’s minds and drives them insane.
These demons are believed to feed on the flesh of the dead, usually inhabiting graveyards and places associated with death and dirt. It can possess minds, instantly driving the vicitim to insanity.
9. Mohini – A ghost that haunts old wells and attacks couples.
This female ghost is believed to haunt the old wells, coconut trees and forests of South India. It is said to be the spirit of a woman who killed herself without ever knowing love. She has a strong, deadly fragrance and legs of fire.
10. Yakshi – A ghost that lures men atop palm trees before killing them and drinking their blood.
A ghost most notorious in Kerala, this treacherous seductress is believed to have been a woman who died a violent death. She lives atop tall palm trees, adopts the form of a beautiful woman, and lures men to her leafy abode, where she drinks their blood.
11. Odiyan – A shapeshifter who can turn into any animal and is adept at killing.
The Odiyan, from Kerala, is believed to be a black magic practitioner who can turn into any animal. He covers himself in a pungent oil made from baby’s blood, and then pursues his victims at night. Even a mere touch from an Odiyan can lead to instant death.
Our ghosts are wild!
Designs by Saransh Singh.