“Unni, don’t go out at night. The Yakshi might be waiting for you by the bushes.”
Your grandmother must’ve told you something of the sort when you were young to dissuade you from venturing out in the dark; reminding you of evil spirits from her stories. Stories that talked of unwelcome beings that roamed the night with nocturnal animals. And this post is going to talk about these miscreants. So prepare to get spooked!
The odyian gained popularity after the Mohanlal movie of the same name. But for the myth of the odiyan has been around for a very long time. As someone from the lush plains of Palakkad, I grew up listening to stories about odiyans. They were our go-to assassins who would finish the job discreetly. And what made them so good at their murderous craft was their ability to morph into animals; mainly bull, bat, and other nocturnal creatures.
But there is a catch though. The odiyan had a tell-tale sign. When they turned into animals, the animal would have one body part missing, say a tail or a horn, etc. It is said that they gained the ability to transfigure themselves by drinking a special concoction called pillathailam that they prepared using an unborn human fetus. Hence, in the past, pregnant women were forbidden from going out after sunset. My grandpa himself says that he had an encounter with a so-called “Odiyan” in his prime. But supposedly overcame because others were also present there.
Rakshas is a vampiric being (male) who roams the Earth seeking vengeance for his gruesome murder. They would attack anyone and anything they see, devouring the flesh and leaving behind just its teeth and nails. And if the dead soul is that of a Brahmin, it would become a brahmarakshas, a being much more powerful than the ordinary rakshas because of the pious nature of the Brahmin. They are usually deified in temples and prayed to for the protection of the region, and offerings are made regularly to appease them.
Yakshis were pretty much the female version of Rakshassu, but are said to have an undying sexual urge. It is believed that they wait at abandoned temples (Yakshikaavu) or paala tree to prey on unsuspecting bachelors who are unfortunate enough to cross their paths. They would seduce these men, have coitus, and then kill them. The yakshi would then drink their blood and feast on their flesh and bones. The yakshi is a truly scary spirit! As a child, I used to get shit scared listening to the story of the most famous Yakshi, Kalliyankaatu Neeli, and would make my parents accompany me for my midnight visit to the loo.
This is a special breed of poltergeist that kills unsuspecting travellers who lose their way in dense forests. Their modus operandi is quite interesting. They would appear in the form of a lit brazier or campfire. Instinct would drive anyone lost in a forest at night towards the closest source of light. And the kollivaai pishachu would appear as a distant light to such unwary travellers. And as the traveller walks towards the light, the spirit would keep moving further, changing directions slowly so as to not arouse suspicion, till the unsuspecting traveller falls into a deep pit or gorge to meet a grizzly end. So if you’re planning on an overnight trek, carry extra batteries for your flashlights and have a map that directs you to the nearest town!
And that’s my list of spookies you’ll run into in Kerala. I sincerely hope that you don’t have an encounter with any of them. But if you do, RUN!
If you do have any interesting stories to share, hit me up in the comments section!