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Shamans and Witches

Magar Folktale

Shamans and Witches

Magar Folktale

Once upon a time, in the Western Himalayan foothills, there lived a powerful Magar Shaman (Ramma) named Puran San. One day, in that kingdom, the queen fell ill, and the King summoned Puran San to tend to the queen and heal her. Puran San reached the palace, recited his powerful chants into a glass of water, and gave it to the queen to drink. With just a gulp, the queen became healthy again.

Unbeknownst to everyone in the realm, the queen had become a victim of the evil eye of the nine witch nieces of one black magic practitioner named Maitye. Enraged by Puran San’s intervention, they plotted to make the queen fall sick again. This time they also spread a rumor across the Kingdom that Puran San was actually a Wizard and that he deliberately made the queen fall ill time and again. 

Soon, the rumor reached the King’s ears, and in a fit of anger, he ordered the arrest of Puran San. The news of the order of his arrest reached Puran San before the soldiers arrived. He told his wife that he would go into hiding nine stories deep into the underworld and that she, in no way was to reveal his hide-out, unless the soldiers paid her in gold and other riches. He quickly taught her the ritual charm to penetrate the underworld and went deep before the soldiers arrived.

The soldiers looked for him everywhere but could not find Puran San. The wife remained silent when interrogated. She demanded gold in return for information on her husband’s whereabouts.  As threatening and persuasion failed to produce results, she was finally paid with gold. Then she opened the portal into the underworld. The soldiers searched for Puran San in the underworld, and when they finally found him, they were no match before Puran San’s powers. They could not arrest him.

 ‘I will go with you on one condition,’ said Puran. ‘That I am given a fair trial by the King.’

 The soldiers agreed.

 At the court, he pleaded innocent. He requested that nine witches be captured quickly for they were behind all sickness within the royal family. Soon, the witches were found but they could not be killed by common men for they were much too powerful. Puran San would have to use his powers to execute them. But the youngest among the nine pleaded before Puran San.

 ‘Without us,’ she said. ‘You will lose your patients. They will stop getting sick. They will stop calling for your help.’

She begged that he spare them, and in return, they would give him the knowledge of the cure for the afflicted. Puran San agreed.

 So, a pact between Shamans and Witches was made that day. The pact remains even today.