Thursday November 14, 2019
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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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Let Us Celebrate The Diversity In India: Mahesh Bhatt

Mahesh Bhatt and Shahrukh Khan stress on the diversity in India

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Diversity
Film maker Mahesh Bhatt emphasizes on celebrating diversity. Wikimedia Commons

Film maker Mahesh Bhatt and Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan on Friday stressed on celebrating India’s diversity, with the auteur also lashing out against those imposing their language on the people.

“These are dangerous times. In the age of highest connectivity we are the most divided. That’s why we need story tellers to tell stories which can bring us all together. The glue that held mankind together has withered,” Bhatt said at the inauguration of the 25th Kolkata International Film Festival here.

He said it was high time filmmakers realise their responsibility to ‘whip up’ hopes of a better tomorrow, in a scenario where the “structures all around us globally are collapsing”.

“I think the story tellers must do what mamas did at home. When the house fought and children fell apart mama would bring us all together by telling us the fascinating story that kindled hope. That’s what we are celebrating here today,” he said.

Bhatt said the leaders of mankind have no solution for the problems that stare at people. “It is we film makers, we story tellers, we artists who are generous people, Who will whip out from our hearts the idea of a better tomorrow, and then point in the direction and compel people to walk in that direction”.

Diversity
King Khan expects stories that bring us together and celebrate our diversity to be made. Wikimedia Commons

Referring to ascetics Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda and Sister Nivedita, he said the great seers and sages of the country had said underlined the need to ‘speak to man in his language’.

“Don’t impose your language on people. This is a great country. And its greatness lies in its diversity. Let us celebrate this diversity,” he said, adding “As long as film makers are there, as long as artists are there, we will dare to hope and defy those who tell us to speak only one language”.

Shah Rukh in his speech hoped that wonderful films with great stories would continue to be made.

“We keep on making these wonderful films, have great stories to tell, and like Bhatt sab said, stories that will bind us together, bring us together, and celebrate our diversity, instead of questioning one another’s individuality,” he added.

Also Read- Bollywood Megastar Amitabh Bachchan Completes Five Decades in B-town

Later, in her speech, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee praised Bhatt for being “very outspoken”. “When so many people are in fear, Mahesh ji expresses his mind candidly,” she said. (IANS)