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. When it comes to the establishment of the kingdom of Mayong in the olden days, it is said as per the history books that the first kingdom of Mayong was established in the 16th century and that Xuntya Singha was believed to be the first king of the territory of Mayong. And an important thing to note about Mayong is that the tradition of Monarchy is still continued here at Mayong. Though the place falls under the jurisdiction of the Govt. of Assam under the Republic of India, the King of Mayong is still considered to be the revered figure in the local society even though he may not have any administrative powers over the kingdom. People of Mayong consider the word of the king and the King’s courtyard is approached to settle trivial disputes like land and territory. Descendants from the 1st King of Mayong the lineage continues and today the 40th King of Mayong is on the throne who is Tarani Kanta Singha. The 1st King is Mayong Xuntya Singha has ascended the throne as the earlier king did not have a son and so Xuntya Singha married the King’s daughter by the name Phuleshwari and later ascended the throne of the Mayong Kingdom in 1538 and the governance of Mayong user 3 Monarchs namely Moniroma Singha, Mohit Singha and Saras Chandra Singha.
Later the several successors of the various members of the Singha family were the rulers of Mayong Kingdom and even during their rule the establishment of the black magic practices continues at Mayong and it can be said that Mayong was the Black Magic capital of India and was known for its black magic practices from the 8th century to the 18th century and the term Mayong comes from ‘Maya’ meaning the land of illusion. The sorcerers of Mayong were devout followers of Goddess Kamakhya who has been associated with the cult of Shakti and tantra from the ancient times of Assam which was then called as ‘Kamrupa’ – the place where Lord Kamdeva regained his beauty after he was burnt to ashes by Lord Shiva at the Bhasmachal hills at the Umananda Island. The Kamakhya temple is believed to be the shrine where the sorcerers of Mayong attained their supernatural powers by performing specific puja rituals and offering animal and human sacrifices as they believed that this appeased the Goddess who is associated with the cult of Shakti.
The legacy of the Kamakhya temple continues even today and thought the practices of black magic have been abolished some people in the villages still believe in the sorcerers an d they approach them to cast a black magic spell on a person whom they envy to stop them from achieving success in life or the simple fact that the person has good looks. The black magic sorcerers of Mayong were earlier very fierce and it is said that they could cast a black magic spell and a person on whom the Mayong sorcerer would cast a spell on was doomed to be ruined. And to help such people who were cursed by black magic sorcerers of Mayong, a unique puja ritual was started to be performed at the Kamakhya temple shrine that allowed the pujaris and sadhus at the Kamakhya temple to remove this curse from the person and even today this puja of black magic removal Havan is done at the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. The cult of tantra has been associated with the black magic sorcerers of Mayong and the Kamakhya temple since times immemorial and even in this modern world where technology plays such an integral role in our lives, there are some people who still believe in the powers of black magic of the sorcerers of Mayong village and this is because they have seen or heard their elders speaking of the powers of the sorcerers of Mayong village or even witnessed the powers of white magic of these sorcerers of Mayong who can cure people of severe back pain by just touching the patient and using a bell metal plate and for such people it is not hard to believe that the process of black magic at Mayong still continues.
When it comes to the culture of Mayong then since ancient times Mayong has been home to lots of assimilation of the various cultures of Assam. Assam in itself is a kaleidoscope of various cultures as there are numerous tribes belonging to the state and hence their traditions and ancient cultural practices gives rise to rich and exotic cultural assimilations of various ethnic groups of Assam like Karbi, Bodo, Mishing, Sonowal Kachari, Tai, Rabha, etc. At Mayong village itself, the culture of the Tiwa people can be seen in their various traditional festivals that revolve around the agricultural practices like Bihu festival, Bhekuli Biya, Nowka Khanda Utsav, etc. Other puja ceremonies are Sitala Puja, Gorokhia Puja, Tuloni Biya, etc.
As Mayong celebrates many festivals, one noteworthy among the unique festivals celebrated is the Gohain Uliowa Utsav that translates to the festival of brining the Gods out together and this festival holds close lineage with the royal family of Mayong and this festival was actually initiated by the 10th King of Mayong Sarasa Chandra Singha in 1668 AD. This festival is still celebrated at Mayong and its legacy continues for over 350 years now and it is a three day long festival celebration at Mayong that is celebrated in the 1st month of the Assamese calendar viz. the 4th – 6th Bohag. The King of Mayong personally attends this festival along with his court members and various festivities and celebrations are organized by the people of Mayong all dressed in their traditional attires. The course of this festival includes the bathing of the Gods and taking out processions hold the Gods over the head and moving from one place to another across Mayong and the march culminates at the Rajgharia Namghar.
As Mayong is the land of Black Magic in India and it is bound for the place to have various temple shrine because the acts of black magic needed utmost devotion or ‘Sadhana’ and also by putting their faith in the Gods and Goddesses including Asuras, the Black Magic sorcerers of Mayong were able to attain supernatural powers. The people of Mayong as per their ancient history believe Mayong to be the land of ‘Pancha Devata’ that refers to five Gods and Goddess namely: Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, Parvati and Dinesh. Not only did the people of Mayong offer their prayers to these Gods and Goddesses before the start of an auspicious occasion but the temples and holy shrines were also used as centres of study and practice of black magic and witchcrafts as well. Noteworthy temple shrines across Mayong – the land of Black Magic are Ganesha temple at Hatimuria, Ganesha temple of Hatigarh, Ganesha temple of Boha, Vishnu temple at Kajolichauki, Shiva Than of Kachasila, Laxmi Mandir of Hatimuria, etc. In addition there are various ‘Thans’ around Mayong dedicated to Lord Shiva and Ganesha.
Though not many books or literature have been documented about the black magic sorcerers of Mayong village in Assam but as per the local elderly people who still reside in Mayong village have tales to narrate from their past about the powers of these black magic sorcerers of Mayong who were so immensely trained in the powers of Sadhana and Tantra that they obtained supernatural powers to perform black magic deeds that could be powerful enough to kill a man or animal or even cause immense harm to the health of another human being by employing the powers of ghost and evil spirits that they achieved using tantra. Though there are no visibly recorded proof but as per the local elderly of Mayong and also across Assam who heard about black magic powers of the sorcerers of Mayong say that black magic sorcerers of Mayong could shoot invisible arrows on the victims to cause immense harm to their physical health or even kill the victims by uttering certain magical chants or ‘Mantras’. These black magic sorcerers of Mayong employed various acts like collecting the hair, piece of cloth worn by the victim, nails and they used to cast a magic spell on these belongings of the victim and bury these in the victim’s house at a remote location in the wee hours of the night and this could cause the person’s health to deteriorate immensely ultimately leading tot eh death of the victim.
As seen in horror movies, the black magic sorcerers of Mayong even used to create a puppet like object adorned with the cloth and shoes of the victim and place the effigy on human bones and prick the victim with black magic cast needles and the part of the body that would be pierced by the needles would start to cause immense problems to the victims in terms of health. The various manuscripts on which these mantras were written (on Sachipat – bark of a special tree with a special ink and peacock feathers as felt tips) are found in the villages of Mayong along with a few scriptures on display at the Mayong Museum of black magic. While few mantras were written and documented on these Sachipat most of the powerful mantras were in oral form recited by the black magic sorcerers and with their death these mantras too vanished from the scriptures of black magic of Mayong village.
The magic spells that were chanted and cast upon enemies and victims by the black magic sorcerers of Mayong were known to be very powerful and the chants of black magic called as ‘incantations’ were often dangerous that could end the lives of the victims or even bring sickness and grave injury upon them. Few of these incantations that were spoken to by the black magic sorcerers of Mayong were like incantations to kill someone, bind someone, causing high fever, uncontrolled diarrhoea and stomach upset, for causing quarrels among people and loved ones, attacking someone, converting humans to goat, arouse a person of sexual desires among a person of liking, etc. Some of these incantations practiced by the black magic sorcerers of Mayong were even much more powerful like ones to allow the black magic sorcerer of Mayong to fly, increase their physical strength immensely, and tame a wild tiger, act of becoming invisible and also to bring a person back from the dead. Such were the powers of the black magic sorcerers of Mayong village in Assam and their powers of black magic was started to be patronized by the Kings of Assam who had started to take a keen interest in the Kamakhya temple and its practices of Shakti and Tantra that were prevalent.
They converted to Hinduism and it was then they had admired the practices of the black magic sorcerers of Mayong and engaged the sorcerers in war and is one instance these black magic sorcerers of Mayong were responsible for making an entire army of men of the Mughal army disappear that allowed the Ahoms to win over the Mughals. However with the progress of time the black magic sorcerers of Mayong who were utmost strong in their sadhana had come to age and they died and so did the practices of black magic. Earlier every fifth household in Mayong would have a sorcerer who would practice black magic but now only a small number of people are present who do not even practice black magic and they are Bezes who use their powers of magic for the betterment of people. These are the last generation of Bezes of Mayong as the younger generation is no longer into the practice of black magic and in a few years the magic of Mayong will get into the books of history.
Today as the black magic practices of Mayong have been abolished, the sorcerers who has adopted a way of life of the new world and have resorted to other forms of livelihood like agriculture, animal husbandry, government jobs, teaching, etc. still take their time to help people with their powers of magic. The sole purpose of the magic they use is for the good of humanity like to solve the problems of the daily life of the people and also to cure people of various body ailments and this magic powers of the sorcerers of Mayong that do not involve the invocation of the dark powers of black magic has now been recognized by the people from across Assam and this part of the magic powers is termed as white magic. The white magic rituals involve the performance of certain magic rituals like chanting of simple incantations or making self-sacrifices to help cure oneself from the ailments of the human body. Today several homes across rural Mayong practice white magic and visitors from far and near come to these sorcerers to help to cure themselves of certain diseases and also to ask the sorcerers to bless their fields for a bountiful harvest or to ask them to use their magic to make weather favourable so that people can have a good harvest of agriculture.
Assam is prone to heavy rains and sometimes the rains are furious and they can cause extensive damage to crops and the rural people believe that the while magic sorcerers of Mayong can help to contain the rains so that they do not lose their entire crop of the season and so to do this they ask the magic sorcerers to perform certain rituals to contain the rainfall. The rural people have various ancient beliefs and they believe that the sorcerers of Mayong can help to keep the power of evil away from them. For example when a child is born, the people believe that the evil spirits might come to harm the child and so to keep the evil at bay the sorcerers advice various ways to the people to keep evil away like hanging a piece of torn fish net filled with burnt mustard seeds and keep it hanging on the entrance doors of the house. Various people are advised spate rituals like some are advised to keep fish bones on top of their houses and some are advised to keep an iron knife under their beds and not only rural people even I keep an iron knife under the bed where I sleep.
Various other magical incantations are in the repertoire of these sorcerers of Mayong and they can cure various ailments like jaundice, severe back pain, stomach upset, burns, dog bites, snake bites, evil spirits, etc. This tradition of curing human body ailments by the sorcerers of Mayong still continues in the area around Mayong village and many local people rely on these sorcerers to cure their diseases instead of approaching the modern hospitals. The sorcerers know the use of various herbs and plants that have medicinal uses and collect these from the jungles and prepare herbal supplements that they provide to the people who come to them seeking help and these provide satisfactory results if the patients follow the advice of the sorcerers. To name a few of these incantations of white magic are Hapor Bih Jhara mantra, Tez rokhua mantra, Kokalbikh Jhara mantra, Petor nari Jhara mantra, etc. Once you visit Mayong in Assam you will understand and be able to relate each of these incantations that are used specifically for the diseases.
The use of herbs and medicinal plants are prominent across these incantations and one example is when a person suffers from jaundice, the sorcerers use certain leaves and places them in mustard oil and water and this coupled with a special grass is provided to the patients to cure him of the disease in a few days. But to what is a wonder of magic tick that is unique to the sorcerers of Mayong is the use of incantations and a typical practice to cure the back pain in a person. The person suffering from back pain is made to sit on a stool and the sorcerer places a bell metal plate on the back of the person just behind their neck and begins to recite the incantations called as the ‘Kokal bikh Jhara’ mantra. The plate slides down the back of the person and it gets stuck at the point where the source of the pain lies and later detaches itself from the body of the patient automatically and this is when the sorcerer starts reciting the incantations over and over again takes a bunch of ‘Bih Dhekia’ that is a medicinal plant and he hits the back with this bunch of leaves and the person gets cured of his back pain. This white magic is still practiced in Mayong that people from far and near come to get them treated like this of their severe back pain.
With the establishment of various kingdoms across Assam over the years including the rule of the Kings of Mayong it would be noteworthy to mention that several monuments and architectures were built across the area and today after the many years of the existence of the Kingdom of Mayong, one can say that various archaeological ruins and monument scan be found across the territory of Mayong. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has a dedicated centre near Mayong village where they excavate and research on the various ruins of the ancient architectures of Mayong. The various relics that have been excavated and the area of Mayong village are preserved at the Mayong museum and a visit to this museum is a must to witness the history of not only the archaeological ruins of Mayong but also the remains of the black magic scriptures that were sued by the black magic sorcerers of Mayong. The proposed Mayong museum of Black Magic is under construction and is expected to be ready soon but even now there is a huge hall area that houses these relics and you can visit this place that is located a little ahead of the entrance of the forest interiors of Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Mayong museum houses various relics of black magic and has a display area filled with the scriptures that were written on the barks of a special tree called as ‘Sanchipat’ and the black magic sorcerers used to recite these incantations. Though most of the incantations were memorized by the black magic sorcerers of Mayong and with their death these incantation left the World only a few have been written in the form of writing and are present at the Mayong Museum of black magic or at the houses of the certain black magic sorcerers who were survived by their families. Generally black magic practice required a lot of devotion and the sorcerers who used to practice black magic remained single their life devoted only to the practice of black magic and worship of Goddess Kamakhya and so they had no one to transfer their knowledge to and so the various black magic incantations passed away along with their demise as well. The local people have been generous enough to donate the remnants of black magic scriptures to be displayed to the visitors to Mayong and these scriptures are placed in a well laid display showpiece that highlights the various black magic scriptures of Mayong.
Once you enter the Mayong museum of Black magic you can see a very old skull of the Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo kept on display here. Next the museum welcomes you to a model of the black magic sorcerers of Mayong taming a wild tiger with their black magic and it speaks about the powers of the sorcerers of Mayong. Along the walls here are various pictures that depict the black magic and even the white magic practices that are performed by the sorcerers of Mayong and also the various rituals that occur in the place along with the King of Mayong taking out a procession with the villagers of Mayong. Next up is the display rack that houses all the black magic scriptures of the sorcerers that are written on Sachipat and these scriptures even though were written many hundred years back still feel like the ink has been put on the Sachipat very recently speaking of the quality of things that were present earlier. Next there are elephant bones also kept on display here followed by various archaeological excavation around Mayong all dating back several hundred years ago.
A visit to Mayong museum will make you feel really surprised as to how the black magic sorcerers were able to achieve feats that were never thought to be possible and this will end the exploration of the Mayong museum. Coming out of the Mayong museum and once your safari rides at Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary is over you can choose to explore the various ancient monuments around Mayong that are known to date back several hundreds of years back. The first one to visit is the Burha Mayong rock inscriptions at Burha Mayong before the entrance of the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and at the Burha Mayong village that was renowned for the sorcerers of black magic. These stone inscriptions are around 3.95 m long and is said to be the longest in Asia. Various rock cut idols of Gods and Goddesses are to be found near the area of Mayong and to name a few of these are statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, three stone cut statues of Lord Ganesha located at the Burha Mayong village. Furthermore statues of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha are to be found at the Sonoka village, Hatimuria village, Kachasila hills all around Mayong village. A fort constructed during the reign of the Ahom king is to be found at the HatiBagora village as well.