Deyyam. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


Deyyam is a Telugu word derived from the Indic word Dev. It is usually translated as “ghost”, though not all Deyyams are spirits of the dead.

In folk stories of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Deyyams have many attributes in common with the Hindi Bhoot. But there are some differences. While Bhoots can stretch their arms and legs to reach a great distance, the Deyyam prefers to do this trick with its tongue — extending its glistening, prehensile pink muscle into another room to adjust the volume on a radio, or to turn off the gas burner of a stove. Deyyams also have the ability to transfer their spirit to any other living thing through a bite or a scratch. Sometimes these scratches seem to come from invisible entities hovering in cool air, in which case they are called deyyam barukulu, or ghost scratches. Deyyams are susceptible to fire, and appear to die a second death if they are burned.

Thus, in one folktale, a marauding Deyyam who had been feeding on the livestock of a certain village was caught, and the villagers burnt it to death. Just before the ghost died, it managed to grab hold of a chicken and claw a gash in its side. The chicken then became a demon-chicken that laid cursed eggs, out of which hatched bizarre feathered Deyyams with human heads. The demon chicken was later caught and killed and cooked, and all those who ingested its flesh turned into Deyyams as well.

Chawmnu. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


In the folklore of Mizoram, especially among the Hmar clan, a Chawmnu is a giant female demon with enormous breasts. She lives in the deep ravines formed by mountain streams.

Chawmnus are hungry always, but they are most active at dusk. They are known for stealing domestic livestock, and they sometimes eat humans as well. In many stories, they approach people who are cooking food outside and threaten them: “Would you like to give me what you’re cooking, or should I eat you up instead?”

People generally choose the first option.

Chawmnus are especially fond of drinking the blood of children.

If one is able to kill a Chawmnu, one should extract the brain, for it is said to have magical properties. For example, a bit of Chawmnu brain rubbed across the eyes can restore sight to a blind person.

Ref: 229. Mizogurl. (2008, March 05). Sichangneii — a Mizo ‘Swan Lady’ tale.

Apasmara. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


Apasmara, also called Muyalaka, is a Hindu demon of ignorance and ego. He appears as a dwarf, and is usually depicted with his hands in the anjali mudra, or “namaste pose”.

One story goes that Apasmara was brought to life by a sect of powerful rogue sadhus. These ascetics, who lived in a mangrove swamp, created him in an attempt to kill Lord Shiva. But Shiva, in his avatar as Nataraja, began his cosmic dance — the tandava — and stamped Apasmara underfoot.

The demon can be seen in most images of the dancing Nataraja.

It is said that Apasmara can never be killed, so Shiva must stand on him for all eternity.

Ref: 444. Apasmara. Yogapedia. (2017, Jul. 27)

Aleya (and other ghostly lights). Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»

Aleya (and other ghostly lights)

Reports of unexplained ghostly lights that flicker and move about in the dark are common the world over. The Latin name for these radiances is ignis fatuus, meaning “fool’s fire”. Scientists say they are photon emissions caused by the oxidation of methane and other gases released into the air by rotting organic matter.

But many witnesses refuse to accept this explanation, insisting instead that the lights are supernatural in origin.

In Bengali, they are known as Atoshi Bhoot or Aleya. They are most often seen over marshy areas and water bodies. Some say they are the ghosts of women who were burnt to death; others say they are the spectres of those who passed away with unfulfilled desires. Fishermen out late at night can get transfixed by the Aleya and follow them into muddy overgrown bogs, where their boats get stuck. The lucky ones manage to wade their way out onto solid earth. The unlucky ones are drawn further into the swamp to drown.

A brave person who keeps his wits about him can sometimes manage to catch an Aleya and chop it up into pieces. This is thought to be a merciful act, since it releases the spirit from torment.

In Kumaon, the phantom light is called Tola, and he is said to be the ghost of a bachelor. He is seen only on lonely hills, for the other ghosts refuse to associate with him.

In Kashmir, mysterious lights in the hills are thought to be the flaming eyes of the Bram Bram Chok.

Alchi. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


In the traditional religion of the Malto people of Jharkhand and Bihar, who are also known as the Maler or Paharia, an Alchi is a fearsome evil spirit. There are various types. All Alchi are usually invisible, showing themselves only very rarely.

Masani Alchi lives near the village graveyard and attacks people who pass by there at night. Women who come to the graveyard in the middle of the night and dance naked for this spirit’s pleasure are rewarded with supernatural power (see Churgin).

• A Pori is the ghost of a human man, woman, or child. It too lives in the graveyard, but sometimes wanders outside its boundaries wearing a dirty cloth. It appears black with wide white eyes. When a Pori attacks someone it causes gastric distress.

• A Jampori is the ghost of a demno or Malto shaman. After death, he goes to live at the base of a tree—usually a banyan—where he is sometimes seen around noon or midnight. He has long hair and gaint, round, fearsome eyes. He is especially dangerous to pregnant women. He carries a staff to beat his victims with.

Dinde is a black ghost with yellow eyes who lives in mango trees. One account says it is the ghost of an unmarried woman who troubles men and women indiscriminately, while another says it is a male spirit who only molests women.

Mara Kambe is another tree-dweller with long matted black hair, white eyes, and backwards-turned feet and hands. He is sometimes seen swinging through vines in the forest. Mara Kambe is very dangerous to pregnant women, whom he always attacks.

Jame is another male spirit who lives on a black stone. He attacks both men and women, and also murders infants. He is propitiated with black chickens or black pigeons.

Alakhani. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


The Alakhani is a tiny pixie-like spirit that lives under the sheltering leaf of a plant called the alakhani-bah, which grows in thickets of bamboo. It is found in the northeastern state of Assam.

A female Alakhani is energetic and mischievous. She roams the jungle in search of fun. If she finds a man out walking by himself she will possess him for a lark, causing him to act bizarrely, wander off, and get lost. When the man comes to his senses (usually in some strange and embarrassing position, such as lying naked in a mud puddle, or strapped upside-down to the trunk of a tree), he might hear a tiny giggle as the quick-footed spirit dances off into the undergrowth.

Male Alakhanis are more rarely encountered, and this is lucky, for they are far less friendly. An attack by a male Alakhani can cause heartburn painful enough to knock a man unconscious, triggering lasting health problems.

Ref.: 159. Kalita, Dilip Kumar. (1992). A study of the magical beliefs and practices in Assam with special reference to the magical lore of mayong [Doctoral dissertation, Gauhati University]. Shodhganga; 294. Rajkhowa, Benudhar. (1905). Assamese Demonology. Patrika Press.

Ajaju. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


The Ajaju is a species of man-eating monster from the Garo Hills of Meghalaya. These bizarrely constructed creatures have the heads of giant chameleons and the arms and bodies of monkeys, but their legs are like bamboo stalks — long, straight, stiff, and skinny. These legs cannot bend, for they have no knees.*

This makes it very difficult for Ajajus to walk on open ground. In forested areas, though, they can move quite rapidly by swinging from tree branch to tree branch.

The Ajaju makes a shrill call as it swings through the forest: “Wa-oh, wa-oh.” If any person mistakes this sound for a human voice, and calls back in answer, the Ajaju will come closer and closer until the person is near enough to attack.

An Ajaju has twelve long forked tongues which lash out from its mouth like ropes. As soon as these tongues make contact with the victim’s skin, the flesh starts to liquefy. The tongues constrict around the person’s half-melted body and reel it into the Ajaju’s mouth. Afterwards, the monster spits out the bones.

If you happen to encounter an Ajaju in a hilly forest, you should always run downhill, as the monster finds it quite difficult to follow on its kneeless legs. If you try to run uphill, the Ajaju is certain to catch you with its long, lashing tongues.

The bones of an Ajaju are thought to have magical properties. They are an ingredient in spells to reincarnate the dead. When fashioned into amulets, they offer protection against disease and evil spirits.

Airi. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


Airi haunts the dense and hilly jungles of Kumaon in Uttarakhand. He has a hideous face with eyes on top of his head. Some say he has four arms which carry different weapons; others say his arms themselves are bows and arrows.

Airi is said to be the ghost of a wealthy man and avid hunter who died while on shikar. He can be heard in the middle of the night crashing through the trees with his hunting party. Airi is carried aloft by his two ghostly litter-bearers, Sau and Bhau, who call out “Sau, sau” as they walk. He is also accompanied by his loyal ghost-hounds and a pair of Anchheri bodyguards with backwards-turned feet. Other attendant ghosts beat the bushes ahead of the palanquin to drive out the animals.

Airi is in the habit of spitting a lot. His saliva is extremely poisonous. If a glob of it lands on someone, that person is doomed to die within a few days unless healing rituals are performed.

Getting spat on is bad enough; but coming face to face with Airi is instantly fatal. The unlucky person who looks him in the eye will either be burnt to a pile of ashes or ripped into shreds by his ferocious dogs.

Ahmaw. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


Ahmaw is a sort of vampire soul or jealousy demon found in the traditional belief of the Mara people, whose homeland is an autonomous district in the southeast corner of the state of Mizoram, on the border with Myanmar. This spirit can project itself from one body into another.

If a person is Ahmaw, he is perpetually envious. When he covets something that belongs to another — it might be fancy clothes, jewellery, or real estate — he sends part of his spirit inside the owner. This causes an excruciating stomach ache, so severe that it can be fatal if untreated. The affected person dreams of being chased by a horse or a dog, or of a leech crawling over his body.

When a person falls sick and the cause of the sickness is believed to be someone else’s Ahmaw, the victim’s relatives make offerings in order to satiate the spirit and drive it out of the afflicted person. If the sickness does not subside, the gifts become progressively more generous. First a large gourd-spoon full of food is offered; then a slaughtered chicken; then a slaughtered pig; then expensive jewellery; and finally a lick of human blood, drawn from the big toe of a loved one.

The head of someone who is Ahmaw can detach from the body at night*. The head goes rolling around into kitchens in search of meat to gobble up, or outside in search of livestock to kill. Some say the head can fly through the air in the form of a flickering flame. The head can also reduplicate itself; an Ahmaw may have as many as ten ghost-heads prowling for food. If all of these heads are captured and confined before they can roll back to rejoin the body at dawn, then the host body as well as the heads will die.

Aavi. Статья из «Призраки, чудовища и демоны Индии»


Aavi means “vapour” in Tamil. It is the word used for the steam from an idli cooker, the morning haze above a village lake, or the misty cloud of a person’s breath on a chilly night in the Nilgiris.

The word also signifies the vital spirit of a living thing: the sigh that leaves the body at the moment of death, to linger on as a ghost.

Most ghosts in Indian stories can take on a physical form. They disguise themselves as real, solid people that can be touched and felt. They can pick things up, wield weapons, do chores, eat food. They are often colourful: in cartoons and picture books, they’re drawn with bright blue or green or orange skin. They usually have fangs. When they aren’t in corporeal form, they either become invisible or transform into thick purple smog. They tend to be raucous and loud and vicious and bloodthirsty, whether or not they had that sort of a personality when they were alive.

The Aavi is an anomaly. In many ways it resembles the ghosts of Western stories more closely than Indian ones. It is wispy, white, forlorn, and brooding. It retains a lot of its personality from life, recalling its friends and loved ones as well as its enemies and its unfulfilled desires. Aavis can have only limited interaction with objects in the material plane, and they have a tendency to disappear into thin air when threatened.

Not to say that they can’t be scary. An Aavi might stretch its spectral arm through a wall, slowly moving its fingers as though grasping for something, sending any witnesses screaming away in terror. Or on a still and moonless night, its transparent head might roll out from underneath a cot, give a few anguished sobs, and then vanish.

But they almost never eat anyone.