FaithWorld

from Photographers' Blog:

Exorcism at the ghost fair

Malajapur, India

By Danish Siddiqui

Malajpur is a small but not ordinary village in central India. In fact it is probably the only village in India which has been hosting a ghost fair for the past several years. People from across the country come to this fair to get rid of ‘evil spirits’ that they claim to be possessed by.

As night falls on Paush Purnima (full moon night) the 'possessed' are taken to the local shrine to be exorcised. People who bring their relatives here feel the latter's bodies have been 'taken over by ghosts of the dead' and that exorcism is the only release for them. Interestingly, most of those who come here to be exorcised are women. When I asked the priest the reason he said, “They are emotionally weak and hence easy target for spirits."

On the first day when I went to the temple, it looked to me like any other temple complex. But suddenly from the middle of the crowd I heard a woman scream as she started running around the temple courtyard. According to priests the ghost inside people becomes weak the more they run around the courtyard in an anti-clockwise direction. For those who don't run voluntarily (which is the case often) relatives or priests make them do so by pushing or kicking.

After a few rounds the possessed person is confronted by the priest on a sacred platform and if the answers are not satisfactory (questions include the name of the ghost and why he/she is hounding the person) the running continues.

Some people suffer “ghost attacks” which means they are fine one minute and the next they start jumping, screaming, crying or even attacking people. The temple becomes really chaotic just before dusk when more and more people are 'attacked by ghosts'.

Ghosts, goblins? Many Americans are believers

halloween (Photo: Halloween in Shanghai October 29, 2010/Aly Song)

Ghosts and goblins are more than Halloween decorations or costumes for many Americans who confessed they believe in the supernatural and returning from the grave.

Thirty-seven percent of 2,100 adults questioned in a Zogby Interactive poll said they think ghosts are real, and 23 percent believe they have been visited by a deceased relative or friend.

Even the 22 percent who said they have not had any ghostly experiences themselves know someone who has.

Ghosts, astrology, New Age: you name it, Americans believe it

Although most Americans are Christian and many are devout, that hasn’t stopped some members of the flock from believing in astrology, reincarnation or the ability of trees to trap spiritual energy.

A new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows a surprising number of U.S. adults claim to have had supernatural experiences such as ghost sightings or hold beliefs associated with the New Age movement or Eastern religions.

LIFE PARANORMAL

Among its findings: nearly 25 percent of U.S. adults polled said they believed in reincarnation and 23 percent said yoga was a spiritual practice. Twenty six percent said they believed “spiritual energy” could be found in objects such as trees. Eighteen percent said they have seen or been in the presence of a ghost.