Bengalis love their ghosts. We have proof.
Vidyasagar, Tagore, Sukumar and Satyajit Ray, Parashuram, Bibhutibhushan, Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay... the list goes on.
No, we are not talking of famous Bengali authors. We are talking about authors who have written bhooter golpo, ghost stories. This shows how much ghost and their tales are part of the Bengali culture.
How did it start? Was it the affinity towards Goddess Kali that makes us find so many ghosts in the stories? Or is just the fact that Bengalis are more imaginative and like to be thrilled and wondered?
Here is a collection of the different kind of bhoots or supernatural entities in Bengali folklore and culture. Let us know if you know more or have a favourite.
Brahmadoityo, the Brahman ghost
Yes, we do have caste system even after death! Anyway, Brahmadoityo is an intelligent kind of ghost. He prefers the high vantage point of the bel gaach (bilva tree) and he usually likes to interact with humans and give them boons. But instead of being as adventurous as Goopi Bagha, most people generally run for their lives.
Although Petni is a Bengali word commonly used nowadays for women with bad make-up, it originally means a female ghost who is not likeable and looks very ugly. Petnis have been designated to reside in the Shayora tree (sandpaper fig). However, they can shape-shift and look good to easily entice those men who shamelessly ogle at women!
Shakchunni is a sister concern of the Petni but it is the ghost of a married woman. It wears a Shankha, hence Shakchunni. Her disappointments and unfulfilled desires make her like this. Advice – live life to the fullest as long as you are alive.
If a Bengali’s love for fish stays on after his time is over, he supposedly becomes a mecho bhoot. He lusts after fish and because he has no money, prefers to steal it from fishermen. Worse, he may also rob or scare it off from someone.
Besho bhoot loves baans, the bamboo tree. Bengalis have a way of saying that people give and get baans, which means hard time. Perhaps some take it too literally even after death.
This is the ghost that was introduced so that children sleep instead of roaming around in the hot summer afternoons and the elders can get some sleep as well. It basically means a headless ghost. No one ever thinks if it is fat or thin or white or black. This poor guy is internationally popular in many ghost stories.
This is not a true ghost, this is a living person with supernatural reputation. Daini is what people simply call a witch. More than real life witches, the superstition is itself scarier, as it can stamp the harmless old woman as one.
Yes, ghosts are also religious. Mamdo is only a male Muslim ghost who keeps a long beard.
Nishi means the nightly ghost. It does not do anything except call your name at night. If after two calls, you are too fast asleep or do not care to answer, it will go away and have nothing else to do.
Do you have an encounter to tell? Let us know below.
Image credits: harekrsna.com, Wikimedia, Bhooter Bhobishyot