Monday, November 7, 2011

Creature of the Week - Vetala

Originally I was going to write this creature up for Halloween but the power going out ruined that. So that means that today's creature is the Vetala.

Credit for picture
The Vetala is the Hindu version of the vampire.  It is a vampire-like spirit that haunts cemeteries and inhabits corpse in order to move around. It has to animate the dead in order to attack the living. In that way, it is almost a zombie/vampire.

Vetalas supposed cause madness and miscarriages and have been known to kill children. They live in the realm between life and death and so are about to see the past, present, and the future. Because of this, magicians try to enslave them.

Ordinary people can ward off an attack by chanting prayers.
Credit for picture
According to legend, an ancient sorcerer asked King Vikramaditya to capture a vetala that lived in a tree near the kingdom’s cremation grounds. Why the sorcerer didn’t do it himself is beyond me. Anyhow, the king had to remain silent in order to capture the vetala. But whenever he succeeded, the vetala told the king a magical story that ended in a question. The king was always compelled to answer. When he spoke, the vetala was able to escape.

12 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Interesting creature I hadn't heard of. Thanks for sharing.

Aubrie said...

Oh my, what an ugly vampire! I think I'd rather meet Edward.

Joshua said...

I wish I could hang from a tree branch like that. Looks like fun.

The second one, not so much.

Joanna said...

Nicole, I want to know if some of these creatures are appearing in your PiBoIdMo ideas? :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

@Joanna, Some of the not so scary ones. I would have no idea how to incorporate the vetala into a picture book without scary the little kids!

Jenny said...

Zombie vampires? I love it ^_^

J.C. Martin said...

Interesting creature. Never heard of it before, but the picture of it hanging upside down from the trees like a bat is a spooky one!

Nisa said...

I've learned more about mythological creatures from you blog than anywhere. So cool!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Interesting creature! I like to see all these variations on similar creatures, infused with their own culture's ideas.

Raymond Johnson said...

Vetala was originally a God in India with roots going back to Dravidian, pre Aryan times. I took a photo in Panjim, India of a statue of the God Vetal. Statues and images are very rare, as in the 1500's the Vaishnava state religion absorbed and otherwise wiped the Vetal cult. Vetal was probably an early name of Shiva, or a form of Shiva. Just like the roman Pan got turned into our horned devil, so Vetal was demonized away from his position of a God worthy of worship when newer religions came in and began conversion of the populace.

Raymond Johnson said...

Vetala was originally a God in India with roots going back to Dravidian, pre Aryan times. I took a photo in Panjim, India of a statue of the God Vetal. Statues and images are very rare, as in the 1500's the Vaishnava state religion absorbed and otherwise wiped the Vetal cult. Vetal was probably an early name of Shiva, or a form of Shiva. Just like the roman Pan got turned into our horned devil, so Vetal was demonized away from his position of a God worthy of worship when newer religions came in and began conversion of the populace.

Raymond Johnson said...

The statue of Vetal was very interesting, it had a lot of astrological information carved into it, I have that photo somewhere...