Magic has always fascinated people from across generations – the young and the old. The release of the Harry Potter series took the practice of Magic to a whole new level and revived the interest of people to take this practice as a profession and giving the world the likes of David Blaine, Chris Angel, Franz Harary and others. India, has been home to practice of Magic from times immemorial. Citations of the use of this practice can be found across several mythological epics including the Mahabharata. The Legendary magician ‘the great P C Sarkar’ belonged to India and his extreme magic tricks like making an Elephant disappear or an entire Train disappear are renowned the world over. But these magic practices are a well performed art or what can be better termed as an illusion to the eyes.
The Harry potter series also had an influence on me as a child and I never missed an opportunity to see the movies over and over again. But that was a long time ago. A few months back I was pondering on these old thoughts of magic and I wondered how stupid I was thinking of tricks like converting a man to a sheep or a tiger, transforming leaves into fishes, hypnotizing a tiger, converting bullets of a gun into water, etc. I narrated this ordeal to an old friend of mine who on hearing me simply smiled and replied, “Dude, it’s a shame you don’t know your motherland well! ” I was taken aback and asked him the reason for his sarcasm and he continued “Just fifty kilometers from where you stay is the magical land of Mayong – the land of Black Magic in India. The tricks you spoke of are just a piece of cake for the ‘Bezes’ in Mayong who can perform much mightier feats like killing a man with the use of their sorcery, fly high in the sky with the application their magic, turning fried fish into swimming ones in a bowl of curry and something mightier like making an entire army of men disappear.” These words almost scared the living daylights out of me but it did help to re-instilled my faith on the practice of sorcery. Though it was tough, but I convinced him to accompany me to the land of Black Magic – Mayong.
The next day we embarked on our journey to Mayong. The Mayong are is located in a picturesque setting of nature in the west of the district of Morigaon in Assam. The mighty Brahmaputra river flows along the outskirts of northern Mayong and the river Kolong lies on its west; and the two beautiful rivulets namely Pakaria and Daipara lie in its east. The drive from Guwahati to Mayong is across dense forests and once you enter these woods you can feel a strange calm that sets into your soul and you can feel the magical vibes flowing through your body. In addition to Magic, Mayong has a large number of archaeological relics dating back to several hundred years lying scattered in different parts of the area. The longest stone inscription in Asia which is 3.85 meters in length is located at Mayong. In the heart of Mayong lies the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary that has the highest concentration of one horned rhinoceros anywhere in the world. Mayong still practices the tradition of lineal king or Monarch. Though he doesn’t use his powers of a King, he is considered to be a reverend figure in the society and his judgement are valued by the local people.
Though the people of Mayong have stopped their practice of Black Magic, they still use magic to cure many ailments of the local people. Some of these magical rites are ‘Tez Rakhowa Mantra’ (to stop the oozing of blood), ‘Ushah Shular Mantra’ (to relieve the pain while breathing), ‘Bichar Shung Guchuwa Mantra’ (to cure the hairy caterpillar bite), ‘Narengar Mantra’ (to cure abscess in the back bone) and many others are still practiced to help and cure people with ailments. One of the famous outstanding magical art (we witnessed it in front of our eyes) that is very much prevalent in Mayong is curing of back pain by village witch doctor who utters a magical chant and uses a copper dish to track where the pain originates. The plate gets stuck to the body and the locals believe that this dish eats away the pain. The local witch doctor demonstrates the magical act and if the person is really suffering from a back pain, then the copper dish becomes hot like fire with seconds and its gets smashed automatically.
Mayong is the place where Magic is being used not only as an illusion for the eyes but also for the betterment of the society. As black magic is no longer practiced the relics of these practices have now been preserved at the Mayong Central Museum located at Mayong. Although the museum is being properly built at present to display to the people the various artefacts of the black magic era one can see the display of various ancient magic scriptures written on ‘Sanchi Paat’ kept on display in a glass enclosure at this museum.
Magic of Mayong ~ Further Reading…..
The magical powers of the Sorcerers of Mayong have been known since ancient times and Assam was known to be the cradle of Black Magic. Even today when I speak to people from other states of India and ask them to come over to explore the natural beauty of Assam they ask mke one question in common “Jadu Tona to nahi karoge na bhai” translating to “Hope you won’t cast a black magic spell on us there brother?” meaning that people earlier across India knew of the black magic practices prevailing in Assam and had passed down these tales across generations so that the generation of today were aware of these practices as well. And all of these were known to be here in Mayong – the Black Magic Capital of of India. The myth of these practices are also narrated in Sir Edward Albert Gait’s book – A History of Assam (1906).
It is a well known fact that the Mighty Mughals couldn’t conquer Assam and a majority of this credit it seems went to the sorcerers of Mayong who could make an entire army of men disappear. This can be traced to Alamgir Nama of Mirza Muhammad Kazim that is a chronicle of the first 10 years of Emperor Aurangzeb’s reign spoke of an invasion by Muhammad Shah in 1932 with one lakh horsemen said “The whole army perished in the land of witchcraft and not a trace was left.” These and various other findings reveal that Mayong was at one time “The Black Magic Capital of India.”
However today, most of the Sorcerers of Black magic who practices this art have passed away. Only a few claim to have the poweress of magic and the young generation have no interest in these practices of magic. With gradual time the legendary art of magic of Mayong will die as well. Various theories have been stated as to how this place came to be known as Mayong. While some say that in ‘Kachari’ language ‘Mairang’ means ‘rice’ and as Mayong is situated by the banks of river Brahmaputra and floods every year fills the banks with porous silt thereby giving space for fertile soil for paddy cultivation so the farmers get a good amount of rice from the paddy seeds and the Kacharis used the term ‘Mairang’ to describe this place from which Mayong can be derived.
Another theory of etymology of Mayong comes from the local inhabitants of Morigaon district the Tiwa people. In the local Tiwa language ‘Miyong’ means Elephant. Mayong territory being very close to Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary was known for the population of Wild Elephants and so from the word ‘Miyong’ – Mayong is said to have been derived.
In another theory, among the believers of Goddess Durga, it is said that certain link of spirituality is linked to “Mahamaya” with the Mayong territory. Several temples dedicated to the Goddess can be found around here and Mayong is derived from “Maa-R-Ongo (body part of the Goddess)” as it is a belief that Goddess Sati’s organ fell in this area.
But still the most popular theory states that Xuntya Singha the descendant of Ghatotkach left his territory and arrived at Mayong (Maibong). After settling down and marrying Princess ‘Phuleswari’, Xuntya Singha ascended the throne and became king of Mayong territory. Hence after this, the territory that was referred to as Maibong came to be known as Mayong.
History of Mayong
The history of Mayong is what draws visitors here from across the World. With close proximity to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary – that has the highest population density of the highly endangered Indian One Horned Rhinoceros, the area of Mayong and Pobitora are gaining a lot of tourist attention and people visit this area from far and near to grab the sight of the prized Indian Rhinoceros and also the glimpses of the Black Magic craft at Mayong from the earlier times. Black Magic practice at Mayong was very prevalent during the 8th to 18th century here in Mayong and even today after the abolishment of the black magic craft, Mayong still remains the Cradle and capital of the Black Magic witchcraft in India. The word ‘Maya’ meaning illusion in the name Mayong reflects this illusions in practice.
Though not much is known about the history of the kingdom of Mayong the only details that can be seen is after the King Auntya Singha ascended the throne of greater Mayong territory. Today the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have their excavation sites near Raja Mayong and various details of Mayong’s history are being chalked out from the excavation remains here. As per the earlier kingdom of Mayong, certain kings played roles in the area around Mayong. Arimatta and his son Jangal Balahu who were powerful kings of lower Assam shifted their capital to Raha in Assam. Some years later Jangal Balahu was killed by his father in law with a bamboo spear at Kajalimukh near Mayong.
During the reign of the Ahom Kingdom of Assam and the time when the Mughals had come over to conquer Assam, to defend the Mughal army, the then Ahom king Swargadeo Protap Singha set up 3 camps at Raha, Jagi and Kajoli. Recently a large number of stone bullets were discovered at Kajolimukh proving that this was the area near Mayong where the battle was fought.