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Ramjit Bonga

Category: Part VI.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

Once upon a time a man went out to snare quail: he set his snares
by the side of a mountain stream and then sat down under a bush to
watch them. As he waited he saw a young woman come along with her
water pot under her arm to draw water from the stream. When she got
to the ghat she put down her pot and made her way up the stream
towards where the snares had been set; she did not notice the hunter
but went to the stump of an ebony tree near him and looking round
and seeing no one she suddenly became possessed and started dancing
round the ebony tree and singing some song which he could not clearly
catch; and as she danced she called out "The Pig's fat is overflowing:
brother-in-law Ramjit come here to me." When she called out like this
the quail catcher quietly crept nearer still to her. Although the
woman repeatedly summoned him in this way the Bonga would not come
out because he was aware of the presence of the onlooker; the woman
however got into a passion at his non-appearance and stripping off her
clothes she danced naked round the tree calling out "The Pig's fat
is overflowing: brother-in-law Ramjit come hither at once." At last
out of the nala appeared the bonga, dark, enormous and shaggy; and
approached the woman: Then the woman said "Brother-in-law Ramjit there
is something that you must do for me; my nephew is ill; he must die
on such and such a day; that day I must see the smoke of his funeral
pyre; but you must save me from the witch-finder; let the blame fall
not on me but on so and so; this is what I came to urge on you; that
you protect me from discovery and then we shall always be friends."

The Bonga at first knowing that they were being watched would not make
the promise but when the woman insisted he promised in a low voice
and then disappeared into the nala; and the witch went back to the
ghat, filled her water pot and went home. The quail catcher also went
trembling home and he remembered the day fixed for the death of the
nephew of the witch and he decided to wait and see what happened before
saying anything to the villagers. Sure enough on the day before that
fixed by the witch the invalid became unconscious and was obviously
at the point of death. When he heard this the quail catcher went to
the sick man's bedside and seeing his condition told his relatives to
collect all the villagers to beat the woman whom he had seen with the
Bonga and he told them all that had passed; the villagers believed
him and summoning all the women of the village they scolded them;
and then being excited by this they rose up and began to beat the
women; to each they gave one blow with a stick, but the woman whom
the quail catcher pointed out they beat till she fainted.

Then they ordered her to cure the sick man and threatened to burn her
along with him if he died, but she insisted that she was innocent. Then
they told her that they knew all that had passed between her and
the Bonga Ramjit, she persisted that it was all a mistake. So they
started to beat her again; they beat her from her heels to her neck
and then from her neck down to her heels till the blood flowed and
they swore that they would not let her go unless she cured the sick
man and that if he died they would cut her to pieces. At last the
torture made her confess that it was she who was eating the sick man;
and she promised to cure him; so they first made her tell the names
of all the other witches in the village and then tied her to a post
and kept her there, and did not untie her till in four or five days
the sick man recovered. When she was let loose the quail catcher ran
away from the village and would not live there any more.

But the villagers threatened the witch woman that if her nephew or any
of his family got ill again they would kill her; and they told her that
as her secret had been found out she was henceforth to be their ojha
and cure their diseases; and they would supply her with whatever she
wanted for the purpose; they asked what sacrifice her nephew must make
on his recovery; and she told them to get a red cock, a grasshopper:
a lizard; a cat and a black and white goat; so they brought her these
and she sacrificed them and the villagers had a feast of rice and
rice beer and went to their homes and the matter ended.

Next: The Herd Boy And The Witches

Previous: The Sister-in-law Who Was A Witch

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