Ghosts in Bengali culture

The depiction of a Rakkhoshi (a female demonic being) at the courthouse of the king. This is taken from children's classic Bengali folk-lore collection Thakurmar Jhuli (1907) by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder

Ghosts are an important part of the folklore, and form an integral part of the socio-cultural beliefs of the people living in the geographical and ethno-linguistic region of Bengal, which today consists of the independent nation of Bangladesh, and the Indian states of West Bengal. Fairy tales, both old and new, often use the concept of ghosts. In modern-day Bengali literature, cinema and also in radio & television media, the references to ghosts are often found. There are also many alleged haunted sites in this region. It is believed that the spirits of those who cannot find peace in the afterlife or die unnatural deaths remain on Earth. The common word for ghosts in Bengali is bhoot or bhut (Bengali: ভূত). This word has an alternative meaning: 'past' in Bengali. Also the word Pret (Sanskrit) is used in Bengali to mean ghost. In Bengal, ghosts are believed to be the spirit after death of an unsatisfied human being or a soul of a person who dies in unnatural or abnormal circumstances (like murder, suicide or accident). Even it is believed that other animals and creatures can also be turned into ghost after their death.

The Bengali Hindu community celebrates Bhoot Chaturdashi, which normally occurs on the 14th day of Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) at the night before Kali Puja / Dipaboli festival. On this night, Bengalis lit 14 earthen-lamps (choddo pidim) at their homes to appease the spirits of their past 14 generations of ancestors. It is believed that in the night before Kali Puja, the spirits of these ancestors descend upon earth, and these lamps help them find their loving homes.[1][2][3] Another popular belief is that Chamunda (a fearsome aspect of Kali) along with 14 other ghostly forms ward off the evil spirits from the house as 14 earthen-lamps are lit at different entrances and dark corners of the rooms. Also, it is customary to consume a dish of 14 types of leafy vegetable (choddo shaak) during Bhoot Chaturdashi, so that evil spirits cannot possess the body.[4]

Types of ghosts and other supernatural entities

There are many kinds of ghosts and similar supernatural entities that frequently come up in Bengali culture, its folklores and form an important part in Bengali peoples' socio-cultural beliefs and superstitions. Few of such supernatural entities are mentioned here:[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Depiction of a Shakchunni spreading cow dung mixed water
A benevolent Brahmadaitya saving a poor Brahmin man from a group of Bhoot (ghosts), while the man was cutting a branch from the yonder banyan tree or Ashwattha tree. An illustration by Warwick Goble (1912). Taken from the 1912 illustrated edition of Folk-Tales of Bengal by Lal Behari Dey.
Rusalka by Ivan Bilibin, 1934. These are fierce water-nymphs which are known as Sheekol, Maal and by many other names in different localities in Bengal

Alleged haunted places


Lalbagh Fort, south entrance, south view (1875)

Lalbagh Fort, Golf Heights Banani, Airport Road, Uttara Sector-3 in Dhaka; Chalan Beel in Sirajganj, Foy's Lake, Pakri Beach, Mirsarai Highway Crossing in Chittagong and many other places in Bangladesh is claimed to be haunted.[29][30]

Foy's Lake, Chittagong
The temple on top of Chandranath Hill in Sitakunda, Chittagong
Kuakata Beach, Barisal
Chalan Beel, Natore, Sirajgonj

West Bengal, India

Mullick Ghat and Zanana Bathing Ghat under Howrah Bridge, Nimtala crematorium, Rabindra Sarobar metro station, Royal Calcutta Turf Club, and National Library of Kolkata are claimed to be haunted.[51][52]

Nimtala Burning Ghat, Calcutta, 1945
South Park Street Cemetery, Kolkata
Royal Calcutta Turf Club, 1910
Writer's Building, Calcutta (Pre-independence photograph)

In popular culture

Ghosts, other similar supernatural entities, as well as tales of paranormal powers (such as clairvoyance, psychic phenomenon etc.) are plots for many short stories and novels in modern-day Bengali literature. Some classic literature and folk-lore are also based on such plot. The number of Bengali films of this genre are small in number compared to the western world. Some radio and TV programs also feature stories of people's paranormal experiences. Common people of both Bangladesh and West Bengal love the supernatural thrills, and the personal stories of people's paranormal experiences are hot topics for gossip, rumours and hangout discussions among friends and family.


Literary works involving ghostly/demonic beings is one of the most popular genres in Bengali literature. In the early days, ghosts were the only ingredients of Bengali folk-tales and fairy-tales. Lal Behari Dey has collected many folk-tales of Bengal, and translated them in English. His book called Folk-Tales of Bengal, first published in 1883, features many amazing folk-tales associated with ghostly and supernatural beings.[60]

Thakurmar Jhuli is the most classic collection of Bengali children's folk-tales and fairy-tales, which was compiled by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder in 1907.[61] There we can find many different categories of supernatural entities (such as Rakkhosh) featuring in different stories. Other such story collection from the same author are Thakurdadar Jhuli (1909), Thandidir Tholay (1909) and, Dadamoshayer Tholay (1913).

Many Bengali writers have practiced the genre of supernatural/horror in their short stories, novels, and others forms of literary works. Some are mentioned below:

Depiction of Betaal hanging by a tree and King Vikramaditya in the background. (from Betaal Panchabinsati)

Other than the writers mentioned above, many other prominent writers of Bengal have also written short-stories involving ghosts and the supernatural, such as Provatkumar Mukhopadhyay,[80] Achintya Kumar Sengupta, Satinath Bhaduri, Buddhadeb Bosu and so on. However, at the present day, some young Bengali horror story writers are being somewhat influenced by the western horror literature, and their writings thus lack the originality of the classic Bengali horror literature and ghost stories.


Classic Bengali films with horror/supernatural plot are only a handful. Kankal (1950),[81][82] Hanabari (1952),[83][84] Monihara of the Teen Kanya movie anthology (1961)[85] Kuheli (1971),[86][87] were quite popular horror/supernatural thriller flick in the era of Bengali black and white movies.

In many Bengali films, ghosts are depicted in a lightly comical mood and sometimes in a friendly way. One of the examples is Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (1969) as mentioned earlier is adopted from the story of Upendra Kishore Roychowdhury and directed by Satyajit Ray. In this film the King of Ghosts gives three boons to 'Goopy' and 'Bagha', the two poor village boys who aspired to become a singer and drummer respectively. With the help of those boons they did many amazing adventures. The film is the first film of the Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne series, followed by a couple of sequels - Hirak Rajar Deshe was released in 1980; and Goopy Bagha Phire Elo, written by Ray, but directed by his son Sandip Ray, was released in 1992.

Nishi Trishna (1989), directed by Parimal Bhattacharya was the first Bengali vampire movie, starring Shekhar Chatterjee, Prasenjit Chatterjee and Moon Moon Sen.[88][89] In this movie, some friends plan to visit the infamous Garchampa Palace which had a bad reputation for demonic blood-sucking beings that were terrorising the locality. They ultimately solve the mystery, and kill the vampire and his mentor.

Putuler Protisodh (1998), directed by Rabi Kinagi, was also based on the supernatural. The movie's story revolves around a girl named Bini who was married to Avinash. She falls prey in the hands of her in-laws who ultimately murdered her. The soul of Bini enters her doll to take revenge. She kills her mother-in-law, father-in-law and her maternal uncle one by one, and finally wants to kill her husband. But Avinash's second wife Laxmi was able to free Bini's soul from the doll.[90]

Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy (2012), directed by Sandip Ray, is a movie based on three classic Bengali ghost stories. The stories are Satyajit Ray's Anath Babur Bhoy, Brown Saheber Bari and, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay's Bhoot Bhabishyat.[91]

Probably the most well-known film of horror genre in recent times is Bhooter Bhabishyat (2012), directed by Anik Dutta. It tells the story of a haunted mansion 'Choudhury Palace', where ghosts from different ethnic backgrounds and eras reside (a Bengali zamindar of 18th century, an actress of the 1930s, a modern rockstar, a soldier of Indian Army who died in Kargil, etc.). The film with its simple but humorous story went on to become a massive blockbuster of 2012.[92]

Goynar Baksho (2013) is another popular film involving the supernatural. The film, directed by Aparna Sen, is an adaptation of Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay's famous tale of 3 generations of women & their changing position in society as seen in relation to a box of jewels, handed down from one generation to the next.[93]

Chhayamoy (2013) is another notable horror movie based on Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay's novel of the same name. The story is about Indrajit, a UK based scholar. While working to preserve historical documents he find a parchment from which he learns about treasures hidden in an old palace in Simulgarh, a village of West Bengal. Indrajit comes to the village, finds out the treasure, but, a local goon Gagan Sapui accuses him of robbery, beats him up and expels him out of the village. Sapui wants to melt those coins to make new jewellery. After being beaten up, Indrajit goes to forest near the village where he meets Chhayamoy, a benevolent ghost. After listening the incidence from Indrajit, Chhayamoy decides to teach Gagan a lesson.[94]

The number of horror movies from Bangladeshi film industry are only a few, and most of these movies can be typically categorized as low-budget horror-comedy. Few such examples are Rokto Pipasha (2007),[95][96][97] Daini Buri (2008)[98] and, Sedin Brishti Chilo (2014).[99][100] Some Bangladeshi movies involving supernatural theme are stories about shapeshifting snakes or Ichchhadhari Nag that can take human form. Examples of such movies are Kal Naginir Prem,[101] Bishakto Nagin,[102] Bishe Bhora Nagin (1999),[103] Sathi Hara Nagin (2011)[104] etc.

Radio and television

A live radio program called Bhoot FM is being aired by Bangladeshi radio channel Radio Foorti 88.0 FM at 12:00 am, every Friday night.[10] The program is being aired since August 13, 2010; and is hosted by RJ Russell. In this program, people from all over Bangladesh come and share their real-life experiences associated with ghosts, demons, jinns and the paranormal/supernatural. The Bengali community from all over the world also share their supernatural experiences by sending audio clips and email that is played/read in this program. Other such radio program is Dor, aired by ABC Radio 89.2 FM. Similar kind of programs are also aired on TV channels, such as Moddhorater Train (meaning 'Midnight Train') by Maasranga Television.

There are some radio programs which feature recitation of horror stories written by acclaimed writers. Such radio program is Sunday Suspense by Radio Mirchi, aired from Kolkata, which features recitation of horror stories, as well as stories of other genres such as detective fiction, fantasy, and Sci-fi, etc. Similar such radio program is Kuasha, aired by ABC Radio 89.2 FM from Bangladesh, which features horror stories written by famous writers, and also stories sent by listeners of the program.

See also


  1. Indrajit Roy Choudhury, Bhoot Chaturdashi
  2. Festivals of India, Bhoot Chaturdashi 2016- The Indian Halloween Night
  3. Rohini Chatterji, Kosha mangsho and Bhoot Chaturdashi: Celebrating Kali Puja and Diwali, Bengali style
  4. Anirban Saha, Bhoot Chaturdoshi, what's that?t
  5. "N. N. Bhattacharyya, Indian Demonology: The Inverted Pantheon".
  6. "Thakumar Jhuli" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  7. Maiti, Anwesha. "11 Different kinds Of Ghosts We Find In Bengali Culture". StoryPick. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  8. "David Gordon White, Ḍākinī, Yoginī, Pairikā, Strix: Adventures in Comparative Demonology" (PDF).
  9. "R. N. Saletore, Indian Witchcraft".
  10. 1 2 "Bhoot FM - Download Bhoot FM Recorded Episodes". Bhoot FM - Download Bhoot FM Recorded Episodes. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  11. "Lal Behari Day, Folk-tales of Bengal".
  12. তিথি ভট্টাচার্য, ভূতপূর্ব: ঊনবিংশ শতাব্দীর ভূত ও আমাদের ভবিষ্যৎ
  13. "Kamakhya: The seat of black magic". Sify. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  14. "About Kamakhya Temple". Lal Baba- The Spiritual Guide. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  15. "Yogini Shrines and Saktipithas (Set of 2 Volumes)". Exotic India. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  16. "Damara Tantra". Exotic India. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  17. শ্রীরসিকমোহন চট্টোপাধ্যায়, ভূতডামরতন্ত্র
  18. "Bhuta Damara Tantra (An Authoritative Tantra of Sri Krodha Bhairava Along with His Mantras, Mandal Worship Rituals and Accomplishment Rituals of Bhutinis, Yakshinis, Snake-Girls etc.)". Exotic India. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  19. "Cult of Occult Science: Mantra-Tantra-Yantra (Tone Totke and Keelam Method)". Exotic India. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  20. Abdul Gaffar Ronnie, বাঁশবাগানে কি ভূত থাকে?
  21. Ambarish Pandey. "Bengali Ghosts". Pakistan Times.
  22. "Blog post by the author Saundra Mitchel of the novel "Shadowed Summer" at Books Obsession".
  23., রাতের বেলায় ‘বোবা ভূত ধরা’ এর প্রতিকার জানুন!
  24. নাফিজ মুনতাসির, বাংলাদেশের কিছু জায়গার জানা-অজানা সব ভৌতিক ঘটনা
  25. Lebling, Robert (2010-07-30). Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9780857730633.
  26. Guiley, Rosemary Ellen; Imbrogno, Philip J. (2011-07-08). The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agenda of Genies. Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 9780738728810.
  27. "জিন মিষ্টি খায়!". The Daily Ittefaq. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  28. "Fear Street". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  30. Sami Tahsin, The Clandestine Adversary: Bangladeshi Hauntings 101
  31. "Haunted Bangladesh: Haunted Locations In Bangladesh Part - I". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  32. "Foy's Lake". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  33. "Urban legends: Where they roam restless". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  34. 1 2 "Urban legends: Where they roam restless". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  35. "Urban legends: Where they roam restless". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  36. Haunted BD, Dhanmondi 27 Haunted House, Part-1
  37. Haunted BD, Dhanmondi 27 Haunted House, Part-2
  38. "Dhaka: 'Mandir wala bari' at Bakshibazar, Dhaka: once believed to be haunted". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  39. "শহীদুল্লাহ হলের রহস্যময় পুকুর". Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  40. ERCB, 47/2" Mysterious Haunted House in Bangladesh (Full Documentary)
  41. Haunted BD, 47/2 Haunted House,Farmgate
  42. 1 2 Somewhereinblog, বাংলাদেশের কিছু জায়গার ভৌতিক ঘটনা (বিখ্যাত মিথও বলা যেতে পারে)
  43. Bhoot FM, Bhoot Fm 6th May 2016 (06-05-2016)
  44. "Paranormal activity". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  45. "National Paranormal Association: Ghost spotted at Bangladesh garment plant, prayers offered". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  46. Writer, Ghost. "The highway near Mirsharai Chittagong - Haunted Places in Bangladesh". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  47. Writer, Ghost. "Parki Beach Chittagong Ghost stories, Apparitions of old sailors". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  48. Blog, Klinnk. "Kuakata: The daughter of the ocean (Sagar Kanya)". Remit2Home. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  49. "Tadash(Thana) at the middle of the Cholon Bil". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  50. "Brush with the paranormal". The Daily Star. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  51. Shah, Priyanka. "7 Haunted Places In Kolkata You Should Better Avoid Visiting Alone". TopYaps. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  52. 1 2 3 "Maa Mati Manush :: M3 Leads - Haunted places in West Bengal". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  53. "National Library of India". The Paranormal Guide. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  54. "Haunted Train Stations India". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  55. "9 Most Haunted Places In Kolkata You Should Never Visit Alone". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  56. 1 2 "12 Most Haunted Places In Kolkata". Holidify. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  57. 1 2 "The Unknown Kolkata: Haunted Places of Kolkata". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  58. 1 2 3 "Top 5 Most Haunted and Spookiest Places in Kolkata". Indiamarks. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  59. Systematic Paranormal Investigation, Research and intelligence Team (2013-12-28), Most haunted Kurseong Dow Hill (Westbengal, India), retrieved 2016-04-03
  60. "Folk-tales of Bengal". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  61. দক্ষিনারঞ্জন মিত্র মজুমদার, ঠাকুরমার ঝুলি (PDF)
  62. ঈশ্বর চন্দ্র বিদ্যাসাগর, বেতাল পঞ্চবিংশতি Download Link (PDF)
  63. "ভুতুড়ে খেলা". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  64., Review: সত্যজিৎ রায়ের লেখা অন্যতম সেরা দশটি গল্পের এক অনবদ্য সংকলন
  65. সত্যজিৎ রায়, তারিণী খুঁড়োর কীর্তিকলাপ (PDF)
  66. "মনোজ বসু / Manoj Basu (1901-1987) - Jessore, Jhenaidah, Magura, Narail". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  67. "গল্পঘর (Story Room): লালচুল - মনোজ বসু". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  68. "Sisirbindu: ছেলেবেলার ভাললাগা ভূতের গল্প : জামাই (মনোজ বসু)". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  69. 1 2 "গল্পঘর (Story Room): তারানাথ তান্ত্রিকের প্রথম, দ্বিতীয় ও শেষ গল্প". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  70. তারাদাস বন্দোপাধ্যায়, তারানাথ তান্ত্রিক
  71. "গল্পঘর (Story Room): অলাতচক্র - তারাদাস বন্দোপাধ্যায়". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  72. "Magic and Realism in Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay's The Ghost of Gosain Bagan Book review by Sanjukta Dasgupta". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  73. Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Bhoutik Golposhomogro (PDF)
  74. "Rahasyamoy Bhooter Golpo ( ).pdf" (PDF). MediaFire. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  75. Syed Mustafa Siraj, Bhoutik Golposhomogro (PDF)
  76. "ই -গ্রন্থাগার: নির্বাচিত ভূতের গল্প : হুমায়ুন আহমেদ". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  77. "pdf ফ্রী বইয়ের ছোট্ট সংগ্রহশালা।: প্রেত। মুহম্মদ জাফর ইকবাল।". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  78. " ভূত সমগ্র by মুহম্মদ জাফর ইকবাল". Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  79. "50ti Vuter Golpo.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  80. প্রভাতকুমার মুখোপাধ্যায়, একটি ভৌতিক কাহিনী
  81. IMDB, Kankal (1950)
  82. Naresh Mitra, Kankal Full Movie
  83. Movies24 (2015-06-17), Hanabari 1952 Bengali Full Movie, retrieved 2016-04-03
  84. Mitra, Premendra (2000-01-01), Hanabari, retrieved 2016-04-03
  85. Satyajit Ray, Teen Kanya Bengali Full Movie
  86. Majumdar, Tarun (2000-01-01), Kuheli, retrieved 2016-04-03
  87. Anupam Das (2013-09-19), kuheli full movie, retrieved 2016-04-03
  88. Bengali Movies - Angel Digital (2015-11-07), Nishi Trishna, retrieved 2016-04-03
  89. Bhattacharya, Parimal (2000-01-01), Nishi trishna, retrieved 2016-04-03
  90. IMDB, Putuler Protisodh (1998)
  91. Sandip Ray, Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy (2012) Full Movie
  92. Dutta, Anik (2012-03-14), Bhooter Bhabishyat, retrieved 2016-04-03
  93. Sen, Aparna (2013-04-12), Goynar Baksho, retrieved 2016-04-03
  94. IMDB, Chayamoy (2013)
  95. Tarkasa, Tars (2009), Rokto Pipasha (Review)
  96. Sohel Rana, Rokto Pipasha: Intro
  97. BMDB, রক্ত পিপাসা (2007)
  98. A. K. Sohel, Daini Buri movie trailer
  99. BMDB, সেদিন বৃষ্টি ছিল (২০১৪)
  100. Shahin and Sumon, Sedin Brishti Chilo (2014) Full Movie
  101. Youtube:, Kal Naginir Prem Full Movie
  102. Youtube:, Bishakto Nagin Full Movie
  103. Youtube:, Bishe Bhora Nagin Full Movie
  104. Delwar Jahan Jhontu, BMDB: সাথী হারা নাগিন (২০১১)

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/29/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.