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The charms of India's black magic capital

 Mayong, Dec 3 (IANS): Imagine a tiger lazily walking behind you like a pet dog or a man bleating like a sheep instead of talking. Hard to believe, but then black magic practitioners and elderly people in the small roadside village of Mayong claim such things are possible.

"Whether you believe it or not is another matter, but such things do happen and I have seen with my own eyes how a Bez (black magic practitioner) in 1960 through some mantra (magical charm) tamed a tiger which had wreaked havoc in the area," Dipen Chandra Nath, an elderly resident who authored a book on the mystical powers of Mayong, told IANS.

The book, written in the Assamese language, provides a vivid first-hand account of the tiger taming incident at Mayong that was witnessed by many locals who are still alive.

Mayong, located about 40 km from Assam's main city of Guwahati, adjoining the famous Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, is steeped in legend and often referred to as 'India's black magic capital'.

It is said that in Mayong, every second person knows the art of black magic, passed on through generations by word of mouth, although a veil of secrecy shrouds this esoteric practice.

"Let me cite some instances regarding the powers of the Bez - a person sitting on a stool was rooted to it as the Bez wanted to teach that man a lesson, while another was bleating like a sheep," said Lokendra Hazarika, a local teacher and an author of several books on the legendary black magic of Mayong.

Even today there are several black magic practitioners in Mayong, although most of them claim to be involved in curing ailments.

"A few days ago, a man from Kolkata visited me and sought my help in killing a person back in West Bengal with whom he had some personal enmity over some land dispute. I told him I don't want to do evil things, but can help in resolving the land dispute by way of my magical charms," said Sachindra Nath, an 80-year-old black magic practitioner.

"It is true that there are many among us who do evil things and accept money. But I don't want to do such nasty things and engage myself in helping people cure diseases and do good things."

Nath demonstrated a few miraculous feats to this visiting IANS correspondent - after reciting some hymns, he made people walk on a sharp edged sword, while making a brass bowl move from where it was kept.

"If you try to walk on this sword without the mantras being chanted, surely it would cut your leg, while this brass bowl act is generally done to pinpoint stolen goods hidden somewhere or catch a thief or a burglar," Nath said in a tone laced with confidence.

However, with the advent of modernity, black magic is shrouded in secrecy and practitioners no longer are willing to own up even if they practise black magic.

"Personally speaking, I don't believe in black magic, but then since it's a tradition with a lot of legend involved; we must preserve some of the mantras in the written form for posterity," said Utpal Nath, an economics lecturer at Mayong College.

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