Having grown up watching Harry Potter and Salem Witches, and hearing stories with no possible explanations, visiting Mayong, the hub of "black magic" in Assam, was always at the top of my bucket list.
I was stung by the curiosity bug to find out if there is something called supernatural or black magic. For me, Mayong has always been the Hogwarts of Assam. I guess you are curious too, to know what is Mayong all about?
Mayong is a small village in the Morigaon district of Assam located on the banks of the mighty Brahmaputra.
It is only a few minutes from the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, which has the highest density of one-horned rhinos in the world.
The origin of the word Mayong has no evidence to back it, but a few locals believe it has been derived from the Sanskrit word “Maya” meaning illusion.
It had been a long time since our college group had a reunion. And whenever we met, we always lost our shit to an overdose of alcohol. So, this time Animesh, Puhor, Anuj, and Sagarika suggested that we should try something adventurous and explore the unknown.
On November 16, 2017, we started our journey from Guwahati to Mayong around 3 pm. Mayong is 40 km from Guwahati. We had no plans to halt at Pobitora because our goal was to reach Mayong before dusk creeps in.
Nogen Khura and his wife, both of whom I had met while doing my project on Witch-Hunting, agreed to host us and take us to the prohibited corners of the village.
The clock struck 4.35 pm when we landed in the mysterious Hogwarts of Assam. I was elated to see Nogen Khura and his wife standing to receive us.
Nogen Khura and his wife gave us a warm reception and served us Xaaj (a rice-based alcohol beverage) in a brass bowl, with til pitha, ghila pitha, narikol laru, kumol saul, and gur.
The clock was ticking and the evening grew darker, colder, and spine-tingling. Nogen Khura took us to the chief bez (doctors who use spells to cure disease). He was in his eighties and we were enthralled to hear stories from him beyond the realm of logical human thinking.
He narrated stories of a wild tiger being tamed with spells, and people vanishing into thin air.
He told us that during war times in the 1330s, Muhammad Shah’s 100,000 horsemen disappeared near Mayong due to black magic and witchcraft and no trace was left behind.
The octogenarian bez informed us that Mayong has mythological roots too as Chief Ghatotkacha took part in the battle of Mahabharata after attaining different magical powers from Mayong.
We sought blessings from the Chief Bez and drove off along with Nogen Khura to a small Narasingha temple by the banks of the river Brahmaputra.
The view was magical and serene. The temple had an ancient chilling ambience and I am not sure whether it was the fierce avatar of Vishnu or our fear that made me and Sagarika feel creepiness in the breeze.
Nogen Khura suggested that we keep moving and I sensed the urgency on his face.
Puhor and Animesh were limping around like a child for they wanted to stay there for some more time, and have a puff of the cigarette. But Nogen Khura convinced them to leave.
Puhor was tired of driving all this time, so he asked Anuj to take charge of the stirring wheel. It was drizzling and the night turned spooky as we drove through the dense forest road at around 12.30 am.
Nogen Khura sat on the front seat and guided our way. The remaining four of us sat in the back seat and filled the car with songs and giggles.
Each one of us was having a gala time. Our Black XUV was moving at a moderate speed and the trees from the dense forest blocked our view of what was in front.
What happened next still gives me heebie-jeebies.
Our car suddenly came to a halt and the headlights went off and we could hear a blood-curdling scream coming out from the forest. We sat there numb, sweating, and praying to the Almighty. Nogen Khura asked Anuj to start the car and go backwards and for the first time in my life, I saw a car crossing all speed limits in the rear gear.
We reached a crowded village, rushed out of the car and sat on the porch of a small tea stall quietly. None of us uttered a single word as if each corner of Mayong was silently bidding adieu to us.
Witchcraft or supernatural is not always rickety old hags flying on nasty-looking brooms or blood dripping from skeletons, it’s beyond human rationality and science.
Despite the spooky aura, Mayong continues to be a tourist attraction and is an integral part of Assam’s history and biodiversity.