‘The devil has got her again’ I heard Surat Ram mummer as he hurried down the mountain path carrying a bottle of holy water tucked preciously close to his heart. Already a small crowd had gathered in Sunni Devi’s verandah as I approached her house. A spirit, I am told has possessed her and this is not the first time. Her bouts with the spirits are quite frequent.
Upon entering the house, it’s quite a frightening scene. I see Sunni Devi seated in a trance like state surrounded by her family members and people from the village. Her long hair fall all over her face and she speaks through her frothing mouth in a strange tone. It’s the devil speaking through her some one tells me. He talks about abundance of milk and butter at Sunni Devi’ s house and this is the reason he visits her so often. I’m amused but one look from her large, blood red eyes is enough to send shivers down my spine.
But the pundit is there, chanting mantras to free her from the spirit. Amidst sprinkling of holy water and thick incense smoke, Sunni Devi suddenly gets up and runs out into the fields, every one chases her but none can catch her. Later she is found unconscious in a nearby field and brought back home. When she regains consciousness she remembers nothing.
Spirit possession is common in the hills and there are even reports when several girls in a school were possessed by spirits. Doctors called it mass hysteria and social scientists have given various explanations to explain this strange phenomenon, which only add up to the mystery- is it real, or fake?