After Death

: Part V.
: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

When grown-up people die they become ancestral bongas and sacrifices

are offered to them at the Flower and Sohrai festivals; and when

children die they become bhuts. When a pregnant woman dies, they

drive long thorns into the soles of the feet before the body is

burned for such women become churins. The reason of this is that

when the churin pursues any one the thorns may hurt her and prevent

her from running fast: and
so the man who is pursued may escape; for

if the churin catches him she will lick all the flesh off his bones;

they especially attack the belly and their tongues are very rough.

There was once a man who had been to get his ploughshare sharpened by

the blacksmith and as he was on his way home it came on to rain, so he

took shelter in a hollow tree. While he was waiting for the weather

to clear he saw a churin coming along singing and she also came to

take shelter in the same tree. Fortunately she pushed in backwards

and the man took the ploughshare which was still nearly red hot and

pressed it against her back; so she ran away screaming and he made

good his escape in the other direction; otherwise he would assuredly

have been licked to death.