What are Urban Legends?
Urban legends are those horrifying or disturbing stories associated with an unknown being, object, place or a phenomenon. These stories get passed on across various generations within a community orally and are rarely documented. What adds the ‘fear factor’ to these legends is that many people believe them to be true.
The most common urban legends we may have heard about are Bloody Mary, the Slendar Man, Candy Man and La’Lorena or the Women in White. Many movies have been made on these legends and they continue to scare and intrigue us even in this era where logic and science have gained importance.
Indian Urban Legends:
It is no secret that India is the most culturally diverse country in the world. There are so many unknown regions and communities in India and each have their own history. Here is a list of the 5 most interesting Indian Urban Legends:
1. Nale Baa: Stree, a blockbuster Bollywood movie is based on this urban legend called nale baa or come tomorrow. This urban legend goes back to the 1990s and is surprisingly from the bustling city Bangalore. It was being speculated that a woman, who maybe a witch, would knock on people’s doors late at night calling the people in the house to open the door and the person who would open the door died the very next day. The spooky part of this story is that this witch would call the person inside the house in the voice of their close relative or friend, making it difficult for them not to open the door.
To avoid an encounter with this witch the residents wrote “Nale Baa”, outside their doors. This little trick seemed to have worked as there were no more mysterious deaths after people wrote “Nale Baa” outside their doors.
2. Yeti: This urban legend is like the American Bigfoot story. According to this legend, Yeti is a 10-20 feet ape-like creature roaming around in the Himalayan Region of India. The existence of this creature is still being debated over, even after the Indian Army discovered mysterious foot prints during their expedition to Mount Makalu.
3. Indian Werewolves: Werewolves are not associated with India but this legend from Karnataka may change this thought. Pavagada is a small village in Tumkur District, where in 1983, many young girls below the age of 5, were abducted even when they were sleeping right next to their parents. While, the villagers investigated these abductions, they found bloody clothes of these children. None of the girls who were abducted turned up alive. The villagers found little bits of clothes, their skulls or torn limbs which helped them identify the victims.
It was deduced that wolves took these little girls into the forest by observing the paw marks. What triggered this werewolf theory ,was this fact that there were no traces of the children being dragged by this creature. Only a human can pick up the little girls without getting noticed, however, the violent killings of the victims and the paw prints can only belong to a wolf. These facts clearly hint that this was the doing of werewolves.
The villagers also believe that this was the doing of a tantric and the killing of only girls below the age of 5 years was nothing but a part of a black magic ritual.
4. Monkey Man: This legend is probably the most hilarious one in this list. In Delhi, India’s capital city, people started reporting that they saw the Monkey man or ‘Kaala Bandar’ roaming around the streets. This absurd creature was reported to be 4ft tall and supposedly wore a helmet and had blood red eyes.
Delhi residents claimed that they were scratched by this creature. A few people died by either fall of off their buildings or staircases in the panic that they saw this Monkey Man (real smart). Just like Naale Baa, the Kaala Bandar made an appearance in a Bollywood movie called ‘Delhi-6’.
5. Kuldhara, Rajasthan: Located in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, Kuldhara is a village that has been left uninhabited for over 200 years. This legend explains why a prosperous Village like Kuldhara is now abandoned. Long back, Salim Singh, a powerful and vicious minster of the state, fell in love with the beautiful daughter of Kuldhara’s village head. He soon became obsessed with her and wanted to marry her forcefully. He threatened the villagers that he would increase their taxes if they interfered with his plans of courting her.
All the villagers immediately vacated Kuldhara abandoning their homes and most of their belongings just to protect the girl from Salim’s unwelcome advances towards her. It is believed that the villagers had put a curse on Kuldhara that no one will be able to live in that village. People who tried staying in kuldhara overnight have said that they were chased away from paranormal entities such as witches and Ghosts.
Why Do People Believe in Urban Legends?
The easy answer to this question is that urban legends are entertaining. You like hearing them and then re-telling them because this provides you with instant social validation. You feel included, important and like a part of a community.
But that’s not the only reason why people believe in these bogus stories.
Each region, community, country or culture has its own history and naturally, their own beliefs and practices. These urban legends were often customized to fit into the common beliefs of the community and possibly to deliberately instil fear in people’s minds.
These urban legends evoke strong emotions such as fear, shock, suspense and these emotions trigger our adrenaline and make us more cautious. This fact is enough of a proof that urban legends could be easily used to keep people away from certain places, to get children to stop fussing (we all know the Boogeyman story) and even to spread certain agendas.
People buy these stories possibly because the teller of such tales may claim that the story they are narrating was their friend’s or their family member’s personal account.
The simple logic behind this is that, you learn that there is something potentially dangerous in your community. You want your loved ones to be safe? Right? Well this concern makes people lie and make these “urban legends” sound real. These legends live on forever and no one really tries to debunk them.
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