10 Mythical Creatures From Nepali Folklore That Haunt Our Dreams
Humans never get tired of listening to mythological stories and tales from our local folklore. Perhaps being able to tell these stories is what makes us human. Or, maybe, humans are actually just one mundane part of a large invisible tapestry composed of all manners of creatures from ghosts and witches to unicorns.
With that said, here are 10 mythological creatures from Nepali folklore that haunt our dreams.
Let us begin with our favorite Nepali mythical creature, the Yeti. Born of the Himalayan heights, this is a famously elusive member of the primate family. The Yeti’s white furs make it quite easy to stay camouflaged in the snowy mountains. And by chance it is spotted, the Yeti is said to be supernaturally quick on its feet.
Khya is the famous supernatural creature that haunts every Newar’s dreams. Every Newar knows or has heard of at least one person who has been haunted by a khya.
Khyas are lanky, bipedal creatures with jangly hair. They are of two kinds — the black khya is prone to mischief and violence, appearing only to their victims to either scare them or incite a fight.
The white khyas herald boundless wealth and good fortune. They are said to play hide and seek in the terrace of homes, during which they produce a sound like a stone rolling across the floor.
The kichkandi is by far THE most popular folklore creature in Nepali culture. Every child grows up hearing stories of this sensuous female ghost who can be found at crossroads or at the fork in the road to Godawari.
She appears to lone men travelling alone at night, bewitching them with their dazzling beauty and charm. But, alas! If the men make the mistake of glancing at this creature’s feet, they will see that the feet are turned all the way around.
The kawancha (कवान्चा) is another common creature from Newar folklore. This creature is nothing more or less than a sentient skeleton. It may additionally have a long, red tongue that simply hangs down to its torso.
It would be easy to dismiss the kawancha as a symbol or allegory used in religious texts. We would refrain from mentioning it too! However, I have personally heard stories of my grandmother seeing one of these things firsthand 😣
Unlike many of these other creatures, the boksi or witch quite easily weaves itself into our everyday conversation even to this day. It is not clear if the boksi was considered a human or another species entirely.
However, they are known to shapeshift. The boksi catches you when you’re at your most vulnerable, and sucks out your blood while you sleep. But when you think about it today, this creature just seems like an awfully easy way for our ancestors to explain hickeys.
The murkutta is a Nepali version of the headless ghost. Murkuttas are known to roam the cemeteries. They carry their heads in their hands, but have a separate set of senses on their torsos as well.
And god forbid you meet a murkutta on a midnight stroll out. This is because while the creatures till now are known to simply scare you to death, the murkutta is actually fond of human flesh.
The kshetrapaal (क्षेत्रपाल) is a common entity in a variety of connected religions — you can find mentions of it in Newar literature, Hinduism, Buddhism, and even Jainism.
The direct translation of kshetrapaal is “guardian of a land region”, and they’re basically the gods of certain small land areas. Unlike most other deities, kshetrapaals are considered a bit too real and close by.
There are stories of people who hear a kshetrapaal supposedly passing through the area, causing much clamour in the terrace and literally raising your hairs. Vaastu experts also routinely prescribe Hindus to drill a hole through their home to “make a way for the kshetrapaal”.
Banjhakri & Banjhakrini
We have all heard of the Nepali version of a witch doctor, the jhakri. These men carried out the role of shaman, spiritual advisor, and doctor in the ancient communities. But did you know that jhakris actually have a supernatural teacher figure that isn’t exactly human?
Yes, that’s the Banjhakri — the supposed origin of all jhakri knowledge and the teacher of all jhakris. Banjhakri lives in the forest with his wife, Banjhakrini. It is extremely hairy and resembles a strange cross between man and ape.
Meanwhile, the banjhakrini features an even more strange appearance that is said to resemble a bear in some ways. While the Banjhakri regularly steals kids to raise in the jhakri doctrine, the Banjhakrini stays in her cave and enjoys feeding on little children.
Tangbhungna came from Limbu culture, and is understood to be the archetypal ‘spirit goddess of the forest’. You had best pray to her if you’re passing by her areas, and treat her properties with due reverence. She is known to be extremely temperamental and if you pass by her ‘areas’ too loudly or littering about, she can make you dizzy or simply fall to your death.
Taksangba was a playful forest spirit in Limbu folklore who was known to cause mischief among the local cattle herders. The locals became so fed up with Taksangba that they decided to get rid of him.
Like the Banjhakri, Taksangba had a hairy, primate-like appearance. One day, it appeared at the cattle sheds when people were sitting in front of a fire. The people then rubbed ghee on their bodies and gave pine needles to the taksangba.
The mischievous spirit playfully copied the humans, but with the pine needles. Then, the herders pretended to bask their hands in front of the fire. When the Taksangba did the same, it caught on fire.
Taksangba ran to the woods, all the while screaming, “It’s not anyone else’s fault but mine,” never to be seen again.
So, these are just some mythological creatures from Nepali folklore that used to scare us as kids. If we dig in, there are probably lots more lurking in the dark!
Tell us your favorite folk story about these mythological creatures over on Facebook.