Possessed – Friday Fictioneers


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 😉

Many thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the weekly Friday Fictioneers. Today’s picture prompt is from Sandra Crook. To read other entries, please click here.

Shameless promotion time:#MicroMondays edition 2 is here. Interested in a microfiction challenge with a slight twist? Can you write a 33 word microfiction with the prompt provided? Hurry up, the linkup closes at midnight of the 26th.


  1. Ohh so the spirits apparently have a gender bias! I wonder what the kodangi will do now that it’s her own daughter who’s possessed! Great story, Varad.


  2. Gosh! This is a harrowing tale for the one affected especially. Interesting to learn about a new custom. Another one of your masterpieces dear wordsmith, Varad. 🙂


  3. Being a Tamilian myself, all I know of this superstitious practice is what I have watched in the movies. What an out of the box script to a log cabin and tree. Excellent write!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Lavanya. My first taste of this custom came from the80s movies as well. But I have been reading about the superstitions and beliefs of different cultures and the pic of the tree just made me write this. Thanks for the nice comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. She has been condemned and has to pay the price according to her village traditions. Do you think she’d be welcome back in her own house if she just snips away a tuft of hair and walks away? Where superstitions prevail, there’s no place for common sense.


    1. There are lot of cultures and customs spread across the wide old world. Some good, some not so good. Unfortunately, behind all these customs it’s us humans who stand without remorse.


  4. Interesting background, and great story. I was relieved to learn that she was only nailed by her hair; I was anticipating a much more gruesome ending. Although for the Kodangi and his daughter, it looks like the ending is taking a turn for the worse!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joy, the torture was not physical it was more mental. Imagine being nailed by your hair to a tree, forced to stay there until the kodangi determines you are spirit-free, being judged by all and sundry, having to attend to nature’s calls right there… This won’t drive away evil spirits but would rather break the girl’s spirit. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for filling us in on the cultural background here, Varad – this is fascinating, sad and depressing in its way. Why only the ladies, after all? A well told tale and I liked the ending very much 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Basically, it was a medieval way of controlling women with spirit and free will. I have tried my best to explain the rationale (?) behind this barbaric act in my reply to Rochelle’s comment. Thanks for the nice comment, Lynn

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand the idea – in times when women were thought of more as belongings than people, that they should be subservient to men and behave in certain ways, this kind of social control is pretty common. In Medieval Europe we had the Scold’s Bridal (a sort of encasing helmet with a metal prong that depressed the tongue and stopped the wearer from talking) for women considered too bossy. And then there was our attitide to witches – usually female, often older women who lived alone, outside of the control of menfolk. Sadly, the pattern repeats through history


    1. All God-men rely extensively on showmanship and theatricality. Our guy was no different. Thanks for the comment, Russell


    1. In earlier times, Women had equal if not a higher standing in the society than men. Not only here, but almost everywhere. As we entered the medieval times, the society started slowly becoming dominated by men. If a woman was free-spirited or radical in her thoughts or just didn’t conform to what was expected of them, they were branded witches or as it was the case here, possessed by malevolent spirits. So it is quite obvious that there has been virtually no recorded instance of a man being nailed to a tree or burnt on a stake. Glad this type of nonsense is almost non-existent these days.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. The kodangi shuddered and with a howl, fainted theatrically. Oh, this line shows so much. No wonder men aren’t nailed to the tree. Perhaps they should be, by something other than their hair.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the villages, if a girl spoke one word against the men in her family, expressed her opinion in the public she was branded possessed. These were more of controlling actions than actual supernatural guff. That might give you a clue on why there aren’t such procedures for possessed men.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wonder if the kodangi will be so quick to pass a similar judgement to his own daughter? Interesting that the spirits are sexist in their choice of bodies to possess!

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s