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YASHPEH
International Folktales Collection

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Story No. 676


Witch Stories (II)

Book Name:

Folklore of the Santal Parganas

Tradition: India

Young girls are taught witchcraft against their wills and if they refuse to “eat” their father or brother they die or go mad. There was a girl in my own village and she went out gathering herbs with another girl who was a witch. As usual they sang at their work and the witch girl sang songs the tune of which the other thought so pretty that she learnt them by heart. When she had learnt them the witch girl told her that they were witch songs and explained to her their meaning. The girl was very angry at having been taught them unawares but the witch girl assured her that she would never be able to forget the songs or their interpretation; then she assigned her to a bonga bridegroom and then told her to sid atang and all would be well with her otherwise she would have trouble.

When the girl learnt that she must sid atang by “eating” her father or brother or mother she began to make excuses; she could not kill her father for he was the support of the family; nor her only brother for he was wanted too at the Baha and Sohrai nor her mother who had reared her in childhood. The witch girl said that if she refused she would die; and she said that she would rather die than do what was required of her. Then the witch did something and the girl began to rave and talk gibberish and from that time was quite out of her senses. Ojhas tried to cure her in vain until at last one suggested that she should be taken to another village as the madness must be the work of witches living in her own village. So they took her away and the remedies then cured her. She stayed in her new home and was married there. A long time afterwards she went back to pay a visit to her father’s house: but the day after she arrived her head began to ache and she fell ill and though her husband came and took her away she died the day after she reached her home.

There was another girl; her friends noticed that when she came home with them in the evening after planting rice she was very careful not to fall behind or be left alone and they used to laugh at her for being a coward. But one day she was gathering Indian corn with a friend and as they talked she said “You will all have lovely dancing at the Sohrai.” “You!” said her friend: “won’t you be there? Are you going away?” Then the girl began to cry and sobbed out that her mother had taught her witchcraft and married her to a bonga; and it was for fear of the bonga that she did not like to be alone in the dark; and because she had refused to “eat” anyone her mother intended to “eat” her and so she had no hope of living to see the Sohrai. Three days later the girl fell ill and died, and after her death her friend told how she had foreseen it.

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