Of Skulls, Bones and Weapons: This Spooky Museum in Assam is India's Claim to Black Magic

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A man mutters a mantra, clicks his fingers and poof! Vanished into thin air. A copper plate dances on the arched back of an ailing old man – and immediately, his pain is gone. In the depths of the forest, a villager is turned into a beast. No, this isn’t a montage from an old Bollywood horror film. These are stories from India’s witchcraft capital, the Mayong village. Hidden in the Morigaon district on Assam, Mayong is a short 40 kilometre trip from Guwahati. Often called the land of black magic, Mayong has been mentioned with magical connotations even in Mahabharata and Ramayana. With the rich collection of magical remains, weapons and ancient manuscripts – among other artifact – that have been found in Mayong, a museum was perhaps the best way to store them all.

The Mayong Central Museum and Emporium of Black Magic and Witchcraft was opened at Mayong by the government in 2002. Here, visitors get a taste of the real Mayong – not silly fables of ghosts and babas – but a look at the actual remains of the black magic that has been a part of Mayong’s culture for centuries. The people of Mayong hold a special faith in black magic – and have been doing so for many generations. Here, witchcraft, sorcery and necromancy were not only practiced but passed down in families, almost like heirlooms. This faith manifests itself in the many objects kept in the museum, which include ancient manuscripts, skulls, ancient relics, tools that were used for human sacrifice, among other things. As a visitor, you can also learn about the origins of tantra via live demonstrations. Old families of this village have all contributed to this museum with their own artifacts. Old coins, artificial jewellery, bracelets made out of bones and shells, metallic rings are among the items on display that were used to perform rituals, or worn by those who did. An archive of all things spooky, this museum is sure to make you ask: does witchcraft really exist?

Witchcraft and black magic are often treated as a joke – always spoken about with hint of disbelief. But at Mayong, one cannot help but believe that perhaps there are some things that cannot be explained. Here, the magic is often used for the welfare of people. To cure illness, shoo away bad spirits and rid one of pain – magic seems to a home remedy for many problems. Bits and pieces of this magic at the Mayong museum – as bone-chilling as some may be – are a tribute to this very culture of Mayong. So, on your next trip to Assam, make sure to take a spooky detour and check out India’s own land of black magic!

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