The kodangi jerked violently. The village people fell silent in obeisance and fear.
“This girl has been possessed by a violent spirit. Nail her to the ghost tree, else the spirit will kill the girl. I have spoken.”
The kodangi shuddered and with a howl, fainted theatrically.
They dragged the screaming girl to the ancient peepal tree and nailed her to it by a lock of her hair. She was to remain there until the kodangi deemed her spirit-free.
That night, as she alighted from the last bus coming from the nearby town, the kodangi’s daughter was possessed by a ghost which rushed from the peepal tree.
The girl who was still nailed to the tree witnessed this and started laughing.
*Kodangi – Village Shaman.
In rural parts of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the kodangis are believed to channel the village deities through their own bodies in order to tell fortunes, judge on issues deemed unlawful in the local Gods’ eyes etc. The practice of nailing women by a lock of their hair to trees like peepal (fig), banyan or neem in order to ward off spirits apparently possessing them. Obviously, the practice stems from deep superstitions. On a side note, no male has ever been nailed to aforementioned trees 😉
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