Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Mayong And Black Magic



                                         

   

  "Don't look  anyone in the eye neither should you throw your gaze left or right. I for one, am not going to risk that" advised Mintu who was driving us down to Pobitora famed for dense population of the one horned rhino.
"If I am turned into a cat, I assure you, I will still find my way back home to Goalpara, even if I have to drag myself  through" he jested. Pobitora was an hour's drive from Guwahati in the Morigaon district. Mintu's concerns stemmed from the countryside we were driving through which was Mayong, the cradle of India's black magic practice.

Turning people into animals and plates stuck to their back to cure aches were a few instances of  normal occurrence of Mayong, according to the whispers. But then what else would one expect from Mayong, touted to be the capital of Black Magic of the country. I remembered little tit-bits of how people referred to Mayong in an oblique way in their conversations. That if anyone partook a bowl of tea in any household of Mayong, chances are that he would leave with the peera, a low wooden stool stuck to his rear. This was one of the most common sayings.  There was a time when it was said that every household in Mayong practiced magic and people from far and near came here to learn the art. Rumours are that it included PC Sorcar Jr. Even in the annals of history there are references to Assam as the land of sorcery and black magic. Raja Ram Singh when directed by Aurangzeb to march towards east, sought sufi saints and Guru Tegh Bahadur to accompany them as protection against sorcery. There is an interesting note of previous encounters by Shihabuddin, who chronicled Mir Jumla's march to Assam province.

"...No one who entered this country ever returned and manners of this country were never known....the people of Hindustan used to call the inhabitants of Assam sorcerers and magicians....They say that whoever enters this country is overcome by charms and never comes out of it." (A History Of Assam by Sir Edward Gait)

It is the vagaries of time then, this magical aura submerged never to rise again. Ironically the present generation, who are well in the clutches of JK Rowlings Hogwarts, Voldemort and Harry Potter, remain ignorant of a magical past of their land. Mayong remains a vague idea and not a real existence on the geographical map.

Mintu cruised ahead on the road, his aim being to reach the resort well before darkness fell. Vague stories floating down from memory coloured  the landscape we crossed. A beautiful thicket lining one side of the road had many teak trees and dense undergrowth. Rocks and boulders jutting out from within made me think of possibilities rising out of the stories. Suddenly they seemed eerie and I looked hard for any evidence of the past. The villages we crossed seemed normal with people going about their everyday chores. Nothing magical there. Quite a disappointment actually!


The resort organized a magic show that evening, probably cashing in on its lost history. Nothing extra ordinary there. I asked the staff, who were locals, about any occurrence that was out of the ordinary ambit of life. They were quick to wash off their hands.One of them smiled sheepishly, “ Frankly, our generation has not taken it up seriously. There are very few of us who would have taken the lessons of this craft. There are strict rules to be followed which becomes difficult to abide by, in the present conditions when there is a family to be fed.”

And as if to compensate for the disappointment writ large on my face he hastily adds,” I’ve heard stories from my uncle who says he has been a witness to some of them. On one occasion there was a duel between two wizards and they saw fireworks and balls of fire as they tried to counter each other’s spells and hexes. But we haven't seen magic here as far as we can remember.”

Stories again. And yet there is proof of a magical past. A museum put together by local effort displays ancient scripts bearing chants, charms and hexes. These have been collected from the homes of the people here in  order to preserve them. One suspects that people haven't really given up all that they inherited. 

Sitting there amidst the lush paddy fields, in a nicely done up resort right next to the Pobitora sanctuary, very few seemed interested in the formidable past of Mayong. It's glory and tales of enchantment eluded the present and remained amorphous in the real world.


This post was written for TWTFOW#5 




17 comments:

  1. Yet another'magical' place in Incredible India.

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    1. Yes but sadly, undeveloped in the tourism radar.

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  2. It's a pleasure to read your posts on travel and nature.

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  3. Have been following your posts since a few days....I simply love them. Gungun was reading one on your posts ....Shillong trip. She kept a dictionary with her......poor girl. But she continued to the end.Keep posting.

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    1. Thank!What would I do without friends like you! Tell Gungun I love her loads :)

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  4. What is magical is the picture of nature you put here....rest are stories....but can we live without stories....:)!!!

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    1. Stories add dimensions to what we see around us. Thanks Sunaina!

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  5. You did build up the suspense en route to Mayong but it was not a let down after all. It is never a let down reading your posts; those set in the northeast are especially redolent of magic and mystic of the virginal earths and skies. I wonder if you have read Boats on Land by Janice Pariat. It has captured the aura of that lost era beautifully.

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    1. Thank you, Umashankar. I wish I had more time at Mayong. It is fantastic that barely 40 km from Guwahati it still exudes an old world charm. Thanks for mentioning the book. I am adding it to my reading list.It's always a pleasure to have you here.

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  6. What a wonderfully intriguing place, thanks for enriching me about it through your beautifully narrative. Such a gem on the map of our country!

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    1. Thank you Arti for the kind words. There are so many hidden nuggets in our vast country and we are such fools to be engaging in mindless strife!

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  7. I was actually expecting a lot more in this post, Ilakshee. This is placid and barely touches the surface...sequel coming? You do know that the East is a mystical land with stories of magic ( black and otherwise) and more. I am researching a lot on Tantra practices and that squares up well with the rumors rife about Mayong that you mention.

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  8. Kiran, the people here are in a denial mode of their past. They don't wear it on their sleeves and have kind of obscured themselves behind the life of an ordinary. It is sad but true that although the reasons could be many. This region also witnesses many cases of witch hunting which could probably be one of the reasons. Only much coaxing brings out the stories.

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  9. Great writing , i like this blog and information given in this blog is greatBest Astrologer in India | Top Astrologer in india

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Your words keep me going :)