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In the villages of Northern India, the everyday tasks of growing food, fishing, and collecting fresh water must be done with extra care, because the fields and lakes are said to be haunted by a spirit who appears in the form of a huge water buffalo. Bhainsasura is like a demon mobster who tramples crops and drowns fishermen unless he is paid "protection money." To protect their harvest, farmers must slaughter pigs and spread the blood on their fields to keep the monster away, anyone wanting to fish must make an offering of chickens, goats, and eggs to keep this bad-tempered beast satisfied.

The little boat bobard unevenly in the water as the gigantic beast waded closer. the men who had come to make the offering glanced at each other in nervous silence. Bhainsasura may have had the familiar look and smell of a water buffalo, but this was no docilc domestic animal. Towering above them, Bhainsasura's eyes gleamed with a cruel and wicked intelligence. If he was pleased with their offering, ther all would be well. If not, then they would never see their wives and children again.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Bhainsasura isn't the only beast that is said to inhabit Lake Barewa. In fact, this famous watering hole has two more demon spirits, known as Nag and Nagin. Nägas are nature spirits and the protectors of springs, wells, and rivers. In some stories, Nag and Nagin appear in the form of male and female water serpents.
  • In many myths, water acts as a doorway berween the real world and the world of the supernatural. The water demons who live in these watery realms are said to have treasure troves hidden beneath the waves, with which they tempt greedy humans.
  • According to folklore, anuther Mirzapur river, the Karsa, is just as dangerous as Lake Barewa. It is said that when anyone attempts to drink from the river, the waters bubble up and the resident demon, "with matted hair," sweeps them away.
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