A Diminished Custom

You’ve probably heard the famous quote of Joan Lowery Nixon before: We don’t believe in ghosts, Mrs. Phipps.” “Don’t matter if you believe in them or not. If they’re there, they’re there.”

So, I’d gone to bed last night with the expectation to see or hear from one, but nobody or nothing showed up. I have been a skeptic for a while now but I still have the curiosity concerning the unearthly hands that knock on so many people’s windows in the middle of the night. The day is Bhoot chaturdashi (Bengali Halloween in some ways) after all.

The mythology that revolves around Bhoot Chaturdashi is —  When Danab Raj Bali  (fiend/monster king Bali) possessed the heaven, earth and abyss, he outset an indiscriminate carnage. No one was able to escape his rage, not even the divines. So to confine the offering rampage the preceptor of gods Brihaspati ( Jupiter ) delivered a plan to Vishnu. Vishnu then came down in the disguise of a saint and begged a land equal to the length of three steps from Bali.

Bali knew from the beginning that it was no one but Vishnu himself. But he pretended to be unacquainted and agreed to the pact. Vishnu took two steps and conquest the heaven and earth. Then another leg appeared through his navel and he put it upon the head of Bali and Bali went down into the abyss right away. From then he has been dwelling in there.

But Vishnu was pleased by Bali’s fidelity towards him. So he left a special provision for Bali. Every year, on earth, people would worship him. And that would be the day of Bhoot Chaturdashi. So every year he would come out of abyss with his companions that are hundreds of thousands of ghosts, spirits and phantoms, the day before Kali (the goddess of death, time, and doomsday) Puja (the worshiping process)  and Diwali.

Today is the day Bengalis used to prepare a special meal made of 14 leafy greens and light up 14 candles to eliminate the evil spirits that wander around with Bali. But these customs have been abolished, somewhere. I guess nobody has time to be afraid of some sort of spirit anymore.


Photo by Erkan Utu from Pexels

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

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