According to one of the earliest compilations by Jayanta Kumar Sarma, based in Pathsala, Bira is one of the most dangerous spirits and is usually controlled by sorcerers. , Photo Credit: Instagram/@thebabayaga07
The ghosts of Assam have become scarier with a digital makeover.
More than a decade ago, author Pranavjyoti Deka brought out a bilingual thesaurus on all things Assamese. One chapter was on about 60 types of ghosts and spirits – some benevolent, mostly evil.
Now, mechanical engineer-turned-short filmmaker Chinmoy Barma has given digital shape to some of these souls through artificial intelligence-powered software.
Topping his list is Bira in an AI art series titled ‘Assamese Folklore Legends and Ghosts’. According to one of the earliest compilations by Jayanta Kumar Sarma, based in Pathsala, Bira is one of the most dangerous spirits and is usually controlled by sorcerers.
People across the state believe that a male Bira possesses boys or men and a female Bira possesses girls or women. It is also believed that the delirium of the possessed person ends only when a tantrik or priest drives Bira away with special rituals and chanting.
Other spirits Mr. Burma has digitally developed are Jokhini, the female spirit asking pregnant women to steal their child; And Kon Bhoota, the king of ghosts who has three legs and one eye on his chest but who has no neck.
The terrifying quotient goes up a notch with the most feared Ghorapak in Assamese folklore, a part-horse humanoid creature. Villagers who claim to have encountered one say that it is seen at night in river banks, ponds and marshy areas.
Then there are the Puvali Bhootas, dwarf mischievous ghosts who steal rice and sweets from the kitchen; Slender and long-limbed, the dolua mainly targets people passing through a bamboo grove; the smaller and darker zouker pal that hunts in a group and eats corpses; Pixas or a bloodthirsty demon; and the bak, an evil spirit that often haunts fishermen and carries his soul in a pouch attached to his frame.
limited Assamese fiction
“The ghost stories told by my grandmother and taken from the villagers inspired me to combine aspects of horror, fantasy, social evils and Assamese culture to tell unconventional stories through films and art. Unfortunately, the options provided by AI platforms do not offer Assamese motifs or images to localize my creations,” explained Mr. Burma, based in Nalbari, western Assam Hindu,
That constraint made their AI avatar of Bordosila, the storm goddess in Assamese mythology, more ‘Bollywood-like’ than Assamese. But Burha Dangoria, a revered spiritual figure guarding the namghar or community prayer hall, turned out to be closer to the person living in the Assamese subconscious.
spread the unknown
Mr. Burma made an early mark 7 th SinA 15-second film given a horror treatment to highlight gluttony as a social evil. The film went to a festival in Canada.
Some of his other short films depict the known and the unknown. they include horrifyingwhich showcases the Ojpali folk dance form, and JokhiniIn which a similar legend of Meghalaya is included.
He has also shied away from horror to make films like morom ringai on the relationship between a cow and a man mourning the loss of his wife, and Tejor Tukurawhich uses traditional Assamese puppetry to criticize social misconceptions about menstruation.