Hinduism is a very old religion that has elements of animism and pagan worship. Throughout the centuries the religion has fostered beliefs of the supernatural and evil spirits hat are peculiar to India. Many of these beliefs can be traced to a common root with other religions. Thus similar concepts abound in Christianity as well. Here we shall have a look at some of the Hindu beliefs of the evil spirits and supernatural. Some of these beliefs could be folk lore, but there are many people in the countryside and villages who will vouch safe for the truth of these spirits.
This is an evil spirit is peculiar to the Northern and colder regions of India. The belief in the Chaleda is particularly strong in the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh. The Chaleda is an evil spirit who has denied entry into the world of spirits for some heinous crime like child murder and rape. Such a spirit is doomed to roam the earth till he expiates his sins. This may take decades and during this period the Chaleda roams the earth and wreaks revenge on all people who come in contact with him.
The Chaleda is a male spirit and has the power of appearing before a man in any form. He will quickly change his form and try and frighten the man before killing him. There are umpteen encounters with the Chaleda recounted by the villagers of this mountainous state.
One of the popular tales was recounted by a villager to an American. It appears that the villager while returning home espied a cat sitting in the centre of the mountain trail. The villager tried to shoo the cat away and prodded it with his stick( danda). But just then in a moment the cat vanished. Slightly unnerved the villager continued on his path to his village. As darkness was setting he hurried forward , when he saw a small child crying. Thinking that the child’s mother may be nearby he lifted up the child to look around for the mother. The child suddenly started becoming heavier and also started laughing. The villager realized he was accosted by a Chaleda. He dropped the child and ran all the way back to the village reciting the sacred prayer of Nanak the Jap all the way. Such incidents abound, but no scientific investigation has been done. The nearest equivalent of the Chaleda in western thought is the werewolf.
The Chudiyal or Evil Witch
This is another weird belief from the Northern regions of India. The Chudiyal is a female eveil spirit who again for some very terrible crime like murdering her husband has been doomed to roam the earth till she gets salvation. Popularly called the Chudiyal the belief among the villagers in this evil spirit is very strong.
The Chudiyal normally appears before her victim who will always be a man in the form of a beautiful woman. She will entice him and even marry him and then finally kill the man. In Himachal Pradesh the women to men ratio is low and it is not uncommon for a man to pick up a mountainous village bride and marry her. Numerous tales are documented of Chudiyal marrying men and then killing them.
One popular tale recounted is of a man while strolling on the mountain trail was accosted by a beautiful woman. She told him that she had no parents and house and would love to meet him. The man subsequently had a couple of trysts with the girl and then brought her to his house as his wife. He was enthralled by her beauty. But in a few days he observed the woman was not eating any food and nor did she require any firewood. Intrigued he decided to one day sneak back to his house and see what was happening. He saw the woman’s leg in the Chullah (fire stove) and she was using it to burn as firewood. He was frightened and ran away and confided to his friends who told him the woman was a Chudiyal. He was advised not to go home and await a soothsayer or Chela to throw the evil spirit out. As per the tale a Chela cam and after reciting mantras the Chudiyal ran away screaming loudly. This popular tale has many variations.
These are the two most popular beliefs prevalent in Himachal Pradesh. But like all beliefs they undergo small modifications in the different regions of the state, but the undercurrent in such beliefs is very strong. Maybe there is need for some scientific investigations into these beliefs.