Monday, January 3, 2011

Would you believe it?

My blood froze as I listened to him. But from his face I could read that he was not lying or trying to spoof me. Of course, he could not as it was something to do with his late mother.
His mother died of cancer in a hospital and I was really flabbergasted by the rituals they conducted after his mother’s death.

He said it was really an eerie experience. She died in a hospital and as far as their belief goes, it was just the body that could be cremated; the soul was still wandering where she died which needs to be anchored at the earliest. For that they conducted a very strange ritual called “ Chavanappu”.

 A person who is adept in this job is brought and it is he who guides the soul. Firstly, he would make a small effigy out of soil. Then he would start rubbing small sea shells on a sieve. He would also start singing a bizarre song which helped in creating  an atmosphere. The ritual would start from ten in the night and continues till five in the morning. The close relatives of the deceased would be present for the ceremony.

The soul wanders but it can not move about freely .  Where ever it encounters a divine presence (church, temple etc.) and it would get stuck. The person who conducts this ritual called potti would guide the soul to its destination.

The process goes on till the soul reached its objective. When the potti gets the cue that it had already reached he would ask anybody to come forward so that he could guide the soul to enter that person’s body which would make the soul speak through him or her.

My friend said he was the first choice but nothing happened and eventually the soul anchored itself in one of his cousin, a girl of 21 and through her the soul made it clear that she would like to stay with her family and not in any temple.

But I asked myself a few questions.

She loved her son the most. Then why did she choose her niece than her son? Maybe she wanted to see her son, daughter and husband and wanted to talk to them which she could not do if she chose any of the three. I was not superstitious and I did not want to believe it. My logic kept on telling me that it was just a superstition and I think I was right. I made many queries regarding this incident and his sister told me that the girl in whom the soul entered had experienced such attacks before. So that answers my question.


This is a ritual that has been followed by a particular community. So do we have to assume that each family has a person who is not mentally sound?