By Syed Aqeel
There hardly exists a race of people on earth devoid of the possession of belief in strange, mysterious and often unbelievable ‘myths’. These fascinating or horrible tales are often passed on from generation to generation through literature, historical accounts and such. The Greeks have their own mythologies; mythologies that speak of the Titans who ruled the earth before gods and of demi-gods who are the seed of gods themselves, who rebelled against the tyranny of the gods. The Egyptians too have their own set of narrations speaking of preserved mummies that are capable of being resurrected after thousands of years of being dead. The various myths associated with the Chinese and Indian folklore also bring into light many ancient and frightening stories of a chilling nature.
Those of us in Kashmir could also not escape these mythical stories associated with us since thousands of years. There are heart throbbing tales that evoke both a sense of excitement as well as fear, mostly being word of mouth, and speaking of ghouls, witches, elves, super- natural beings and places that are believed to be of unnatural or extra-ordinary existence, narrated by people down the generations. A few are considered to be real while some are told to create unprecedented feelings or skittish thoughts of fear and frenzy. A few of these tales are:
The spine chilling Bram Bram Chok:
A grotesque figure of the Kashmiri folklore, usually believed to be dwelling in marshes or wandering at times of heavy snow in the dense dark blanket of the night in search of its prey. Its appearance has been often described of a huge hairy monster, but the difference lies in the positioning of its eyes, which are believed to be on the top of its head and blazing as if they are on fire. Some other narrations make the mystery of its appearance highly horrid by adding that the brum brum chok ventured at forsaken places carrying a burning flame on its forehead.
In direct terms, the brum brum chok has been described as having an ugly horrific face, which would blow the winds of terror in the hearts of people upon hearing the dreaded tales of its being, particularly children.
The strange Wai Whop:
The dubious description of the wai whop in our folk tales has not made its existence very clear – yet. Usually it is believed to wander at night in desolated houses and is mostly described as a creature essentially tallying the appearance of a cat or dog, but with super- natural powers vested in its magical skull cap or toup as it is called in Kashmiri. The name wai whop has its roots in the sound this creature makes, resembling exactly the word wai whop.
There are also other sets of narrations which formulate that this creature was actually a hyena and used to come down from jungles in search of food during snow period and also that it used to hunt for newborns and carry them in its mouth on its way back to the jungle.
The refusing to die Rantus:
The term rantus is a Kashmiri metonym for witch, but not your everyday witch that is often described as flying on a magical groom, scaring people with her screechy coming. The very word rantus has caused the Kashmiri people to quiver with fear since ages and continues to do so even now, as the description of her appearance first in the form of a beauty unparalleled to allure men and then finally taking their heart out alive really quails and shudders those who hear about her.
It has been narrated in the tales from the folklore of this paradise, called Kashmir, that even the howling wolves and other fear striking creatures fright her coming and disappear leaving the hunted from their mouths so that they don’t become prey themselves. Such is the horror of her wrath that when she has the possession of her desires in her sharp fangs, there is no option left other than grovelling before her. The eyes of her real face are parallel to her nose and it is believed that she is a master of disguise, and there is no other way of getting hold of her reality other than her feet that would always be in the reverse direction. She is also known to have a black cascade of long hair reaching down to her ankles.
The antithetic Naar Mokal:
A spirit, but of a different kind. The word naar meaning fire suggests something made up of fire, which implies a spirit made up of fire. It was mostly blamed for its malevolent acts of spreading fire by jumping from one house to another and fire was said to accompany it when it set foot on anything. The naar mokal was held responsible for sparking a flame that would burn the whole house and for finally spreading the fire from one house to another within no time.
The mythical Kashmiri literature has been enriched by a sheaf of outstanding figures which have left a viscous mark of horrendous or spellbinding nature on the Kashmiri mind. Apart from all the creatures listed above there are a lot others like mushran, yach, khoakh, rih, rakhaez, and many places have super natural stories associated with them. The fact that these sights originally existed is a story unresolved because most of them were narrated in order to amuse children or to incite an emotion of horror in them. But as we pare the history of Kashmir, we find that these myths have been an essential decorum of our tradition, which are narrated even now to our young ones.
The author studies Convergent Journalism at Central University of Kashmir.