December 26, 2005

Of traditions, Ghosts and the hills

So Christmas is over....Living in a small town of Northern India, one would never know how big it is but thanks to a plethora of News channel and their over-enthusiatic reporters, one knows, that it's is big now,even in India .
Amidst all this, in an even smaller town or rather village, there was a man getting ready to do something that did eventually manage to catch the attention of a national news channel. We have heard a lot of hue and cry from various corners against the practice of animal scarifice. Yet, very few people know about the practice of human sacrifice that still goes on at some places, though now it is more of a representation than the actual thing.
A village fair called Bhund, in Rohru of Shimla District, H.P., India was the setting of this human sacrifice. The man, in the center of it all ,was preparing the rope that would be tied across two cliffs, for one was he and he alone who had to make the rope from a special kind of grass. He would walk over it, or die to his death if he failed to do so. Most of it was in the papers yet hardly any voices were raised against the thing actually taking place. In fact ppl were eagerly waiting-n-watching to see if the man survived his walk.
In the past, the man was to die and there was no other option. This was because the rope was not ony tied across two cliffs but it was tied at a steep angle and no one could really walk that. It was a special caste from which they used to choose one man for the dying and that caste had to do no work. it was the village folk who took care of the families. Fortunately this time they had adequate safety measures for the man who walked the tight rope and he survived. But its just a pointer at the varied colours that life takes.
Now about Ghosts. There is a very famous story by Ruskin Bond ("The man with no face ") which is set in the forests behind Bishop Cotton School, Shimla. I got a chance to study there for a couple of years and trust me even today the woods seem eerie if you happen to be crossing them in the late hours. But the story is just that, a story. There actually was no man without a face. Yet recently in a part of Shimla there have been reportings of people seeing a ghostess ( a female ghost, surely they must have both sexes). How did they know it was a Ghost? The same old theory about a ghost having his/her feet in the wrong direction. I seriously dont believe these stories but the people who claim to have seen the ghost are pretty well educated and pretty convinced about what they saw.
We have all heard about mediums. Now there is a place caled Lafu Ghati in Himachal. And in that place lives a man who talks to the dead. I talked to some people who visited that man and they have come back more than satisfied. They claim that they didnt tell the man anything and he just uttered some names on his own, that belonged to the dead from their family. He just asked them who they wanted to talk to, and viola the the medium would take on the role of that person and talk to them. He not only speaks in the native language of the deceased but some claim that even the accent is the same. In one instance even the police seeked his help and solved a case. Believe it or not!!

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