Ever heard of a ghost fair? It’s here in Madhya PradeshJanuary 28th, 2009 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS
Malajpur (Madhya Pradesh), Jan 28 (IANS) A sari clad woman with her hair wild scrambles on the floor as if trying to run away from some invisible enemy. There is a look of terror on her face as she sinks to her knees, sobbing loudly.A man also seems to be desperately trying to escape from some invisible terror, running around, screaming at the top of his voice.
They are the “possessed”. They have come to Malajpur, a village among the hills of the Satpura ranges in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, 350 km from state capital Bhopal, for being exorcised at a shrine of Guru Maharaj Deoji, a Hindu holy man who lived in the 18th century and, devotees believe, had the power to exorcise ghosts and evil spirits.
No one knows how all this began but head priest Chandra Singh says: “Deoji passed on the ‘art of exorcism’ to his successors (the priests here), and since then the month-long fair is being observed annually for about 250 years here at Malajpur during the ongoing Magh month (the Hindi month which usually falls in January-February).”
As the night of Paush Purnima (full moon preceding Magh month) falls, the ‘possessed’ are taken to the shrine for being exorcised. The people who bring their relatives here feel that their bodies have been “taken over by the ghosts of the dead” and that exorcism is the only release for them.
As the temple gong sounds, priests (ghost busters) chant mantras and the posessed are brought before them, one by one, for the ritual of severe beating with brooms. In this it is the ghost that is been threatened with the beating, and not the possessed person. After being beaten by the ghost buster amid the chanting of mantras, the so-called ‘ghost’ leaves the body.
The temple has two banyan trees that the priest says are home to thousands of ghosts and evil spirits that have been “expelled” from human bodies. After being “rid” of the ghost, the person encircles the temple and is declared “cured” and leaves the place with or without paying the fees.
Some people pay as per their capacity, while others offer donations of jaggery - unrefined sugar made from palm juice - at the temple.
This year about 10,000 people are estimated to have arrived in Malajpur for the exorcism.
Some of the people being treated become frenzied. Women savagely toss their hair or roll on the ground. Some run wild or shriek and shout when their relatives bring them before the exorcists, who speak in loud, authoritative voices and the patients respond to their commands.
Psychiatrists say exorcists have some success because they are usually people in positions of authority and people suffering from hysteria respond to authority.
Pradeep Meher, who comes to the fair regularly, claims, “No one returns disappointed. Everyone’s wish is fulfilled. When your wish is fulfilled you may come here and offer only a kilogram of jaggery. Also, you are required to encircle the temple once again but in the opposite direction.”
The custom is that those who come for treatment circle the temple in one direction while those who come to offer obeisance circle it in the opposite direction.
The psychologists, however, describe the ghost fair as nothing more than superstition. The fair, which started Jan 10, will continue till Basant Panchmi, Jan 30.
(Sanjay Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)
- Catholic Church to train priests on how to perform exorcisms - Nov 14, 2010
- Surge in Satanism sparks rise in demand for exorcists: Catholic Church - Mar 31, 2011
- Ashley Bell Talks About Her Role In "The Last Exorcism" - Aug 26, 2010
- 'The Last Exorcism' Reviews Creates Buzz - Aug 27, 2010
- From Boston to Khajuraho to tie the knot - Feb 21, 2011
- Yoga, work of the devil: Vatican priest - Nov 27, 2011
- Kashi Vishwanath temple to get facelift, priests get pay hike - Jun 19, 2012
- Guruvayur temple saw 198 weddings in a single day (Feature With Image) - Sep 21, 2010
- Delhi revels in the spirit of Janmashtami - Aug 22, 2011
- Mumbai celebrates Ram Navami with devotion - Apr 01, 2012
- Buddhist priest to exorcise 'ghosts of war' in Nepal - Jul 17, 2009
- 'The Last Exorcism' Ending Confuses Audience With Claustrophobic Chaos - Aug 28, 2010
- Assam celebrates Bihu festival with bonfires, bird fights (Lead) - Jan 15, 2011
- Vatican denies that it was planning an exorcism show with Discovery - Jan 11, 2011
- Millions throng Goverdhan for annual pilgrimage - Jul 15, 2011
Tags: banyan trees, betul district, bhopal, brooms, chandra, devotees, evil spirits, exorcism, full moon, ghost buster, ghosts, guru maharaj, head priest, holy man, human bodies, invisible enemy, jan 28, posessed, priests, sari