Friday, July 20

Petni / Shakchunni

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  • Petni / Shakchunni: Petni are basically female ghosts who died unmarried or have some unsatisfied desires. The word Petni originated from the Sanskrit word Pretni (feminine gender of Preta). The word Shakchunni comes from the Sanksrit word Shankhachurni. It is a ghost of a married woman who usually wears a special kind of traditional bangles made of shell (called ‘Shankha’ in Bengali) in their hands, which is a sign of married woman in Bengal. Shakchunni usually possess the rich married women so that they can enjoy the pleasures of married life. They are usually depicted wearing a red or white saree. They usually live near ponds and lakes, and might possess a married woman when they go near ponds for daily chores. People say Petni and Shakchunni also live in Shayora or Tetul trees. They are believed to be shape-shifters, and can take any appearance. Beings such as Petni or Shakchunni are also known as Churel in different places in India.
 

Depiction of a Shakchunni spreading cow dung mixed water

  • Damori: Tantric practices and black magic have been very popular in rural Bengal in the past for many centuries. Some rural people from Bengal, obsessed with the occult, used to travel to Kamrup-Kamakhya in Assam in order to learn Trantic ways and black magic.Many Sadhu (Ascetic Yogis), Tantric, Aghori, Kapalik and Kabiraj devoted their lives in pursuit of occult practices. Such people are said to have the power to invoke lower-level demonic/ ghostly entities such as Hakini, Shakhini (same as Shakchunni) and Dakini. Tantriks use these demonic spirits for soothsaying purposes, and also for causing harm to people. When superstitious rural people wanted to cause harm to an enemy, they went to the Tantriks to seek their help. A common practice was called “Baan Mara”, a ritual by which the Tantriks used demonic forces to kill a person. In such cases, the victim is said to die by vomiting blood up their throat.[15][16] The two most higher-level tantric mantra are Kularnob and Moha Damor. A tantrik mantra called Bhoot Damor (a lower-level branch of Moha Damor) works with different demi-goddesses called Jogini, Jokkhini, Kinnori, Apshori, Bhutini, etc.[17] Altogether these bunch of supernatural entities are called Damori. In Tantrik philosophy, it is believed If someone can engulf himself into ascetic pursuit and worship through Bhoot Damor, the invoked Damori will appear to that person, will associate with him, and becomes somewhat under his control. These beings are neither human nor incorporeal, but somewhere in-between. They are from some unseen realm, and can materialise in our perceived physical dimension. Their concept is similar to the western concept of Fairies or Elves; or the Islamic/Persian concept of Pori / Pari (a female version of Jinn).
  • Besho Bhoot: The word Besho comes from the word Baash which means ‘Bamboo’ in Bengali. Besho Bhoot are ghosts that live in bamboo gardens. People from rural Bengal believe that harmful ghosts live in bamboo gardens, and one should not walk pass these areas after dusk. It is said that when a bamboo leans or lays in the ground, no one should cross over it and should go around it. This is because when someone makes an attempt to cross the bamboo, the bamboo is pulled back straight up by an unseen force, and the person can die as a result. It is also reported that a gusty wind blows inside the bamboo garden while the weather is clam on the outside.
  • Penchapechi: An unusual form of ghost. The Penchapechi take the form of an owl and haunt in the forests of Bengal. It follows helpless travelers through the woods until they are completely alone, and then it strikes. Unlike other ghosts, the Penchapechi actually consumes its victims, feeding on their body in an almost vampiric way.
  • Mechho Bhoot: This is a kind of ghost who likes to eat fish. The word Mechho comes from Machh that means ‘fish’ in Bengali. Mechho Bhoot usually lives near to the village ponds or lakes which are full of fish. These kinds of ghosts urges the late night fishermen or a lone person who carries fish with him to give them their fish by saying in a nasal tone – “Machh Diye Ja” (meaning “give me the fish”). If the person disagrees to leave the fish for the Mechho Bhoot, it threatens to harm them. Sometimes they steal fish from kitchens in village households or from the boats of fishermen.
  • Mamdo Bhoot: According to the beliefs of Bengali Hindu community, these are believed to be the ghosts of Muslims.
  • Gechho Bhoot: It is a kind of ghost that lives in trees. The word Gechho comes from the word Gaachh, which means tree in Bengali.

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