It still happens: two women who were tortured by a mob, accused of casting spells on villagers
It’s hard to believe that witch burnings and child sacrifices still happen. But they do! It’s also true, though, that these occurrences are relatively rare – maybe they happen just once or twice a year, although some say numbers are higher. It’s indeed ages ago that witch burnings and child sacrifices were common parts
of religious practices in South Asia in general. But this “dark side” to traditional beliefs is still alive today! Why write about it, though, if it’s rare, not to mention blood shivering to talk about? Well, we have chosen to make a note about it simply because it does exist! Here are a few recent examples.
Kodai Harijan, 35, (far left) sacrificed his neigbours 10-year old son (right corner) to cure his own
Child sacrifices were perhaps little known also to locals in Nawalparasi until it suddenly took place
last July. Kodai Harijan, 35, was trying to find a cure for his ailing teenage son. When nothing else would help, he called a witchdoctor who made an evil spirit in “possession” of his son speak out and state its demands. The voice coming out of the son’s mouth declared that it could only be “pacified with human flesh”, and Kodai decided to satisfy the evil spirit. Assisted by the witchdoctor and two relatives, he lured the neighbour’s son over and sacrificed him!
Witchdoctor driving out an evil spirit of a “possessed” village girl: dangerous craft if instead locals feel spells are cast on them!
Witchdoctors continue to play a big role in rural Nepal – here’s a video
of women shamans in action in Janakpur, illustrating just a part of their religious role. Indeed, a central part of witchdoctors and shamans’ work remains to drive out evil spirits! But it also happens that locals accuse a witchdoctor of not only curing but also causing illness. In Hetauda
, Krishna Bahadur Magar, 64, felt that his neigbour, 83-year-old witchdoctor, Hasta Bahadur, had cast a spell on him. Magar had a vicious rash and was convinced that Hasta was behind it. So, he went to Hasta’s house one early morning, poured kerosene all over him, and burnt him to death!
Reportedly several hundred cases of women killed or beaten up, accused of witchcraft: girl who narrowly escaped
In fact, altogether four witchdoctors
have been burned in and around Hetauda in recent years – just a couple of hours drive south of Kathmandu – but it’s happened in several other districts too, above all in Terai. One woman in Chitwan was attacked by a mob, stoned and burned alive in front of her ten-year-old daughter, and that’s just one of reportedly several other cases of torture and burnings
. It’s also in the southern areas of Nepal that ritual sacrifices of more children have occurred also at the hands of shaman trainees who need to shed the blood of “sacrificial lambs” in order to acquire secret mystical knowledge!
“My teacher, Chhabilal Raya, asked me to find a child, kill it and offer its fresh blood to honor the gods. I had to do it to learn witchcraft.” Mahadevi Yadav
In Rautahat, two women – a shaman apprentice and her local Guru – were convicted of murdering a three-year-old boy
with such motives. The young apprentice, Mahadevi Yadav, admitted her guilt but explained that her motives were only practical: to acquire secret knowledge. “My teacher, Chhabilal Raya, asked me to find a child, kill it and offer its fresh blood to honor the gods. I had to do it to learn witchcraft. There are many people who practice witchcraft and even kill because their teachers say that if they don’t kill a child and extract the blood, they cannot have complete knowledge.” The extent of this practice, though, is unknown.
Why write about this indeed dark side of traditional beliefs? Well, certainly not to throw a dark shadow on Nepal’s colorful and amazing culture. Rituals of all kinds are deeply ingrained in religious practices throughout the country and are carried out in every village and household in the most peaceful and tranquil ways imaginable. But there does exist a darkside – a “cult of witchcraft or shamanism” – that can make the blood run cold. It was always out there in the villages and small towns, and probably it will remain so still for some years to come. But now when that’s said, let’s return to the bright side.
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