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A Bhoot

A Bhoot or Bhut is a supernatural creature commonly depicted as the ghost of a deceased person in the popular culture, literature, and ancient texts of the Indian subcontinent. The interpretations of the origins of bhoots vary across different regions and communities, but they are generally believed to be disturbed and restless spirits unable to move on to the afterlife due to unresolved issues from their past lives or deaths. Their physical appearance is noticeably similar to the undead or ghouls.


Bhoots possess various characteristics that distinguish them from the living:

  • Shape-shifting: They have the ability to alter their forms and often manifest as animals or humans. However, their feet are typically backwards-facing, revealing their ghostly nature.
  • Avoidance of Earth: Bhoots typically avoid contact with the ground, often floating above it, sometimes up to a foot high, as the earth is considered sacred in many Indian traditions.
  • Shadow-lessness: They cast no shadows and speak with a nasal twang.
  • Preference for White Clothing: Bhoots are often depicted wearing white clothing and are known to haunt specific locations, such as trees or houses where they met their demise.
  • Milk Affinity: Bhoots are said to seek out milk and may immerse themselves in it. Consuming milk contaminated by a bhoot is believed to lead to possession.
  • Fear of Water and Iron: In many regions, bhoots are believed to fear water and objects made of steel or iron. Burnt turmeric and invoking the names of holy figures are also believed to ward them off.
  • Churail: A specific type of bhoot is the churail, the ghost of a woman who died during pregnancy or childbirth. Churails often attempt to lure men to their doom and can change forms at will.

Cultural Depictions[]

Bhoots are prominent figures in Indian folklore and are often featured in ghost stories and legends. These tales frequently involve encounters between humans and bhoots, where the unwitting protagonist becomes gradually aware of the ghostly nature of their companion, leading to a horrifying realization.

Exorcism and Rituals[]

According to Hindu mythology, bhoots are souls of the deceased, and they cannot be destroyed but can be appeased through rituals. Hindu exorcists perform rituals such as atma-shanti, derived from the Atharva Veda, to pacify bhoots and assure them that their desires will be fulfilled, allowing them to move on from haunting the living.

In summary, bhoots are deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric of the Indian subcontinent, representing the lingering spirits of the departed and serving as cautionary figures in tales of the supernatural.