Thursday, May 23, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Asinur Reza's 'Bhoot Abhidhan’

Unveiling Bengal's Ghostly Pantheon

Update : 16 Mar 2024, 11:40 AM

Asinur Reza’s Bhoot Abhidhan (Bengali  for Compendium of Ghosts), takes readers on a captivating journey through Bengal's rich folklore and cultural tapestry, providing a comprehensive insight into the world of ghosts and supernatural beings that populate the region's collective imagination. With over 50 profiles of individual ghosts and 28 engaging stories, Reza introduces us to a plethora of supernatural entities, each with its own unique characteristics and folklore. In a thought-provoking preamble, the author eloquently highlights the enduring presence of ghostly myths and superstitions in traditional Bengali culture, emphasizing their intricate integration into Bengali life despite modernity's march forward.

The diversity of spirits explored in Bhoot Abhidhan is truly remarkable. From the Brahmin ghost Brahmadaitya to the Muslim ghost Mamdo, from one-legged Ekanore to indigenous ghosts Rukhma, Reza skillfully navigates through a myriad of entities, each with its own cultural significance and symbolism. Notably, the book delves into lesser-known ghosts such as Godana - the ghostly apparition of a cow, and the bird-like ghost known as Kanna, breathing life into these obscure spirits through meticulous research and storytelling prowess.

The thematic exploration of how geography influences ghostly manifestations adds another layer of intrigue to the narrative. Waterlogged terrains give rise to spirits like Hanra, Aleya, and Jotadhari, while even the storms are accompanied by their own ghostly presence -- the Banrul ghost of the Baisakhi storm. This attention to detail underscores the author’s commitment to presenting a comprehensive and immersive experience for his readers.

Moreover, the volume offers exhaustive descriptions of these spectral denizens, complemented by individual narratives featuring tales of prominent ghosts. Additionally, timeless ghost stories by eminent Bengali literary figures like Rabindranath Tagore, Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay, and Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay are interwoven with the relevant Bengali ghostly figures, enriching the reader's experience.

Bhoot Abhidhan transcends being a mere collection of spooky tales; it serves as a testament to the enduring power of folklore and the importance of preserving cultural heritage. Through evocative storytelling and insightful commentary, Asinur Reza invites readers to delve into the fascinating world of Bengali ghosts, where each apparition reflects the customs, beliefs, and superstitions that shape society.

In conclusion, Bhoot Abhidhan is a must-read for enthusiasts of folklore, cultural studies, or anyone seeking an enthralling journey into the supernatural realm. Asinur Reza's masterful storytelling and deep understanding of Bengali culture make this book a standout addition to the genre. Highly recommended. 

Siam Sarower is Sub Editor at Dhaka Tribune.

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