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A door post with Naale Ba written in Kannada

In the early nineties, when Bengaluru was still a growing urban city, when streetlights were not a common occurrence, and when most roads were still not asphalted, the urban legend of a witch began to make the rounds.

A female presence was perceived in some parts of the city, perhaps real, perhaps imaginary, who roamed in search of her lost husband. She would come outside residences and call out. By the time the resident came out, she would either disappear or they would. It was believed that a large number of missing people had been lured into the clutches of this woman.

Back then, beggars would come from the house to house, asking for food or alms. They too would use a similar voice to call out to the people inside. Those who wanted to help would find themselves in a quandary because there was the threat of going missing. At the same time, they would be guilty of ignoring the helpless.

They came up with a way to avoid the unnecessary dilemma. They scribbled the words 'Naale Ba' on all their walls and doorposts. A Kannada phrase that means 'Come tomorrow', served as a talisman against the powers of the witch. She would come to the door, read the writing, and go away. If she verbally called out to the residents, and they shouted 'Naale Ba', she would go away. If the person still remained, it was understood that they were not witches.

Over the years, this phrase has grown into a mundane saying. People use it in daily conversation and do not recall this incident. Walls that bore this phrase no longer exist, or have been painted over. In some parts of the state, April 1 is celebrated as Naale Ba day, which brings up the question of the reality of this legend. Nonetheless, if someone in Bengaluru tells you to come tomorrow, you know what they mean. Bollywood borrowed this concept for its recent horror-comedy flick Stree.

Keywords: Stree, Naale Ba, Urban Legend, Witches, Bengaluru



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