Mayong: the land of sorcery in India
Despite the persecution to which witchcraft is subjected in India, as could be seen in previous articles, there is a city called Mayong, in the district of Assam, which brings together magic practitioners and also a large enough clientele, boosted by tourism, which would be one more example of how under the name of esotericism, due to its more spiritual connotations and less malignant physical affectation, it always has greater social acceptance than sorcery and witchcraft.
There are numerous legends surrounding this location, located about 40 km from Guwahati, near the Pobitora Nature Sanctuary, another tourist attraction. The region is identified with the mythological kingdom of Prajyotisha (which loosely means, Formator of diviners; see the etymology of jyotish in the article on Hindu astrology), in the region of Guwahati, in the Mahabbharata and the Ramayana, where the events of Krishna and Ghatotkacha, and where battles and help with the raksakas (a kind of demons) take place.
Legends say that its inhabitants transformed into wild beasts, or that they were capable of becoming invisible or traveling through the air, in a kind of teleportation or physical bilocation; that wild animals bowed down to their inhabitants, or that disappearances occurred by fading. One of these disappearances is the one that was told of the army of Muhammad Shah, in strange circumstances shortly before arriving in this city, disappearing completely. Archaeological and anthropological investigations have come to focus on the fact that the people of Mayong were already accused of having used magic against cavalry at that time. These disciplines have also discovered remains of ritual weapons for human sacrifices or Narbali, as part of black magic aided by the goddess Shakti. According to Indian folklore, Mayong was also the home of Chura Bez, a very powerful sorcerer doctor who was able to vanish by reciting the Luki Mantra.
The name of the city also has its own stories. There are those who associate its name with the Sanskrit expression "maya", which means "illusion", in relation to the wonders of magic and, above all, with disappearance, one of the practices and/or curses understood to be common in the area. There is also talk of clans called Mairong, Maibong or Mahong from which the city would take its name, as well as rituals or devotions to gods with similar names, such as the goddess Ma Kali, the already mentioned Shakti, whose body parts -cut to prevent her from destroying the world, they stayed in that region, renamed Maa-er-ongo ("goddess parts"). A latest version says that, since the animals are found there free and close, and that formerly it was even richer and more fertile, including rhinos and elephants, it can take its name from them, which were called Miyong. Of all these names, nothing historical can be confirmed, since, seeing it as a business possibility, more and more stories have been added to give body to the tradition, including stories that we could describe as "horror stories".
According to Hindu religion and tradition, the only thing that magic cannot do is go against nature, and therefore natural disasters cannot be avoided or averted. For everything else there is a solution within the world of spirits and wizardry. In this region there are many men and women learned in it. The doctors, called ojaa or bez and the fortune tellers are the main ones visited in Mayong.
The first ones cure diseases or ailments, mainly through traditional medicine, massages or Ayurveda, but also with the help of magic, reciting mantras or blessings, with the mediation of spirits (not surprisingly, it is believed that these are the ones that normally alter health or circumstances), or with curious rituals such as that of the plates, where the plate is placed in the affected area and "devours" the discomfort through the spell. This is actually related to hot cup treatments, where containers are heated and placed on the skin to alter circulation, common in traditional medicine in various parts of the world. The curiosity of the Indian ritual is that the plate is turned upside down, not with the curvature inward. You can also request the cure of someone who has not been able to attend, where the doctors, with a mixture of herbs and flowers, and reciting ancestral spells, say they can cross borders and cure these people. They also share love spells with fortune tellers. Everything mentioned also has its opposite side: they can break a relationship, make someone sick, or fulfill the client's wishes, regardless of their morality.
Fortune tellers have multiple divination systems: palmistry, lampadomancy, divination through crystals, polished or broken, bones, shells and sea snails conchs, flowers or a turntable that indicates the direction to follow to find something or someone, including having visions of the loved one or that she will be loved, which may include teleporting to her by reciting specific mantras such as the Uran mantra. Of course, they also know the secrets of divination by physiognomy and astrology, or recognizing past lives.
There is a third category of "magical" individuals, who are those who aspire to obtain the siddhi, or "perfections." Attached to the natural environment, they live in or near forests and engage in meditation, medicinal and mental knowledge of plants, and painful experiences as part of their learning. These siddhi include many of the abilities of magicians, such as disappearing, altering their shape or size, reading minds, succeeding in their purposes, and subduing the will of other people with their powers. Others have a mission, let's say, more spiritual: reach ataraxia, aduamduan (to tolerate cold or hot temperatures to their extremes), or tri-kala-gñatuam (know present, past and future time). It adds a bit of terrifying charm for those who dare spend too much time or go too far into the woods: there the true dark sorcerers with their dark purposes reside, not mixing with the rest of the population, dedicated to more menial and superficial matters.
And it may not be entirely a lie, since the area is actually of agricultural and livestock production, they are all farmers, and they cannot live from magic as such, although it is considered that it helps the well-being of the inhabitants. According to records, there are barely a hundred people who can be considered as such doctors or fortune tellers. Many of these, moreover, are not overly appreciated for their striking staging or their scandalous clothing: what is truly esoteric fashion, or at least so recognized by most foreigners. However, they have a rule that their magic must never be exposed or taught to foreigners.
In the same region there are two very interesting places: firstly, the Mayong Central Museum is focused, as it could not be otherwise, on witchcraft, often called black magic despite the fact that, as It has been seen, much this does not coincide, of course, with the general perception of that name. Texts and archaeological relics such as cloths, statuettes, coins or rings are kept there, together with magical traditional objects such as decorated palm leaves or pieces of clay, to surprise the foreign visitor, lovingly and surprisingly preserved by the inhabitants of the area until they are inaugurated the museum in November 2002.
Secondly, the festival that takes place in Pobitora, the natural sanctuary, for which safari are carried out to show all the wild biodiversity of the area. Together with these tours, the sanctuaries and statues of the area are included, some existing since the 10th century. It is also used to show the esoteric wonders of the town through public rituals and ceremonies that do not alter the habitat. In this way, certain traditions are preserved along with the environment with its flora and fauna, specifically now focused on the conservation of the decreasing population of rhinos. The pity is that, due to its geographical isolation and its rural development, together with the rejection of magic and witchcraft, neither of the two places and events receives enough attention, either nationally or internationally, and their future is, for the moment, , uncertain.
Pietro Viktor Carracedo Ahumada - email@example.com
- Biwas, P., Thomas, J. Construction of Evil in North East India: Myth, Narrative and Discourse. Sage publications, 2012, Delhi.
- Bhushan, Ch. Assam: It's heritage and culture. Kalpaz Publications. 2005, Delhi. Rahman, D.
- New light on land of black magic - Huge swords unearthed at Mayong in Assam point to human sacrifice. The Telepgraph (online ed.) NE section. 2009 https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/north-east/new-light-on-land-of-black-magic-huge-swords-unearthed-at-mayong-in-assam-point-to-human -sacrifice /cid/62925