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Indo-Caribbean folklore spirits

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the cover page of the book

  • By Megha Sharma

Here is a video from the distinguished lecture series of Dr Kumar Mahabir. He is a renowned Anthropologist and is a professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). He has shared useful insights into the Indo-Caribbean Folklore spirits. Through the video, he discusses his book “Indian Caribbean Folklore Spirits” which provides details of the presence of a brood of spirits believed to roam the Caribbean since the abolition of slavery.” The book also discusses five kinds of spirits acknowledged in the East India.

The Anthropologist also presents a catalogue of works, on spirits and supernatural beings. Herein, he talks about the well-known movie “Harry potter” (An adaptation of the book series by J.K rowling), “the chronicles of Narnia” ( by C.S Lewis). Both the movies are given a mystical touch with a fantastic storyline having unusual characters like Papa Bois and Mr. Tumnus respectively. He recounts other Hollywood productions with and an Indian movie “Hisss”, where the centeral character plays the role of a Nagin (female snake).

The video also discovers how Indian festival Holi and the West Indies festival Phagwa, celebrate the good over evil, where the king hiranyakashyap and his sister Holika are demons. Further, the Moko-Zombie ghost and the blue devils are also traditional synchronicities. The Moko Zombie ghost moves on stilts and the origins of the word being derived from the West Indies, meaning spirit, and the blue devil, a ghost with “tails, mask, horns and pitchfork”.

The most interesting part is when Dr Kumar acknowledges the five spirits of India and the Caribbean Sea. He provides how the book, “Indian Caribbean Folklore Spirits” registers the presence of five widely known spirits in both the lands. Namely, the Raa-khas, the Chu-rile, dee baba, the snake woman: Nagin and the Jinn: sheikh sadiq.

All these are different manifestations of evil spirits with the Raa-khas being a new born evil child, born as a consequence to its mother’s evil deeds. The child has to be killed as soon as it is born by the midwife (chaamine) to get rid of the risk of becoming a victim.

The Chu-rile is a ghost pf a died pregnant women, who has suicided in the time period. It moves around in white dress with unmanaged hair and is often considered to harm people as she grieves for her lost child whereas, the Saapin, is an adorable woman who charms many men. She is a sign of near death and also a cause of her husbands’ death. She is said to marry seven times and has a snake along her spine. It is surprising to note that this mystic incarnation is undiscovered by the woman herself. She undergoes this transformation on a full moon night (Purnima).

a manifestation of the chu-rail image
a manifestation of the chu-rail image

Besides the embodiment of evil, there are spirits invoked in order to achieve harmony within the lives. These spirits are known to eradicate ill-fortune from one’s life. The dee baba is one such example, known as the protector of the farming land, in the form of a black dog or a colonial slave master on a horse. The farmers perform a food giving ceremony to this spirit and take blessings for a good harvest.

the spirit of a jinn
the spirit of a jinn

The Jinn can be either a good or a bad spirit. It is an invisible form, however, can be invoked to visibility by humans. The evil ones tortures and victimizes its subjects while the angelic ones take the woes away and give livelihood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megha Sharma is a student at the University of Delhi. She is pursuing her masters in English and has also done her studies in German language. Twitter: @meghash06510344

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“Visit Strengthens Further Internal Cohesion and Unity”: Pope Francis Meets Leaders of North Macedonia

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to "sow these seeds" of solidarity.

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Pope Francis
Pope Francis greets the crowds in Skopje on May 7. RFERL

Pope Francis, who is on a historic first trip to North Macedonia, has met with the country’s leadership and held Mass in the main square of the capital, Skopje.

Francis was welcomed by the outgoing president, Gjorge Ivanov, and other government officials.

He has sought to encourage the country’s drive toward integration into the EU and NATO after its name change resolved a decades-long dispute with Greece last year.

Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian.

But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. North Macedonia is home to an estimated 15,000 Catholics.

In meetings with Ivanov and with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the presidential palace, Francis praised North Macedonia’s multiethnic and multifaith culture, calling it an example of peaceful coexistence and a bridge between East and West.

“These particular features are also highly significant for increased integration with the nations of Europe,” he said.

Christian
Like neighboring Bulgaria — Francis’s first stop on his three-day Balkan tour — North Macedonia, a small Balkan country of 2.1 million, is mainly Orthodox Christian. VOA

“It is my hope that this integration will develop in a way that is beneficial for the entire region of the Western Balkans, with unfailing respect for diversity and for fundamental rights.”

In his speech, President Ivanov complained about delays in accepting Macedonia in the Euro-Atlantic family.

“You come at a time when [North] Macedonian society is deeply divided, and the [North] Macedonian [nation] is heavily wounded by broken promises, unfulfilled expectations and faltering trust in the international community,” he said.

Viktor Dimovski, state secretary of North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry, told the media on May 6 that the pope’s historic visit comes at a crucial moment as the country seeks entry into the European Union and NATO.

“The pope’s visit strengthens further internal cohesion and unity, and brings messages of reconciliation and solidarity,” he said.

The pope’s visit also included a prayer at the memorial of North Macedonia’s most famous native daughter, Mother Teresa, who was born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910 in Skopje when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.

Francis was surrounded by Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity nuns in praying before the memorial. Mother Teresa was canonized by Francis in 2016.

Ahead of his visit, Francis praised the mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities in North Macedonia, and said he was traveling there to “sow these seeds” of solidarity.

“Living together is not always easy, we know that,” the pope said in a video message. “But it’s worth struggling toward, because the most beautiful mosaics are the ones that are richest in colors.”

muslims
But the country has a large community of ethnic Albanian Muslims, who make about one-quarter of the population. Pixabay

With the name dispute with Greece now resolved, North Macedonia, which has been an EU aspirant since 2005, hopes to get a clear signal for the start of accession talks in June. Skopje also expects to become the 30th NATO member at the end of the year.

Also Read: Puppeteers Bring Message of Harmony, Love, Tolerance in Pakistan’s Karachi

Stevo Pendarovski, who was elected president in a runoff election on May 5, said he saw his victory as a “ticket for NATO and EU.”

Six Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia — are in various stages of the accession process to join the EU. (RFERL)