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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 671


Witchcraft

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

The higher castes do not believe in witchcraft. If a man is ill they give him medicines and if he dies in spite of the medicine they do nothing further. But all the lower castes believe in witchcraft and know that it is a reality. The Santal women learnt the craft first from Marang Burn by playing a trick on him when he meant to teach their husbands. And now they take quite little girls out by night and teach them so that the craft may not die out.

We know of many cases to prove that witchcraft is a reality. Pirthi who lives in Pankha’s house was once ill: and it was an aunt of his who was “eating” him. One night as he lay ill the witch came and bent over him to take out his liver: but he woke up just in time and saw her and catching her by the hair he shouted for the people in the house. They and the villagers came and took the woman into custody. When the Pargana questioned her she confessed everything and was punished.

Another time a boy lay ill and senseless. A cowherd who was driving cattle home at evening ran to the back of the house where the sick boy lay, after a cow which strayed there. There he found a woman in a state of possession (rūm) he told the villagers what he had seen and they caught the woman and gave her a severe beating: whereupon the sick boy recovered. But about two months afterwards the cowherd suddenly fell down dead: and when they consulted a jān as to the reason he said that it was the witch who had been beaten who had done it.

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