Sriyal Himesh Jayasinghe

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Sriyal Himesh Jayasinghe

Sri Lanka

Sinhala

My name is Sriyal and my motherland is Sri Lanka. The main ethnic group of Sri Lanka is Sinhalese, and most of them follow Buddhism. We can see that fundamental teachings of Buddhism have influenced the Sinhalese in becoming superstitious.

According to the teachings of Lord Buddha, there are many spiritual levels. Into what spiritual level one will be born after death, depends on the deeds that one has done in current life and past lives. If overall you have done good deeds, you will be born into a realm where you can feel and taste comfort. If you have been bad, you´ll be born in a level where you will have to suffer for your wrongdoings. One of such levels is being born as a demon.

This story is about such a demonic spirit known as Mohini. Mohini was a lady, whom, sadly, her husband left for another woman when she was pregnant. She died while giving birth, and at the time of her death she cursed all men for what she had to undergo. Since she died in an angry state of mind, she was reborn as a demon.

Sinhalese believe that in tasks we are unable to do on our own, we can get help from spirits. Working with spirits is not for everyone – if done incorrectly, it can be deadly. People who can work with spirits are called kapuwa or weda mahaththaya. This is a craftsmanship that is passed on from one generation to another.

I got to know a gang of treasure hunters through a friend of mine. Their main income was selling ancient artifacts they dug up from treasures that were hidden during the time of the kings. Back then, when hiding the treasure, the king killed some people, so that they would be reborn to guard the treasure. Therefore, to unearth the treasure you need help from a person who is skilled in dealing with spirits.

While treasure hunting was the gang’s main income, it is not a job that one can do on a daily basis. So, in other times, these people undertook other jobs that needed the help of spirits.

I met them when I was in my early 20s and at that time I did not believe either in gods, ghosts, or demons. I actually wanted to see such people working with spirits to prove to them that they are lying. Since I did not believe in it, I also was not scared, so they increasingly involved me in their different jobs as a helper.

One time, a young boy came to meet us. His girlfriend had left him and he was very sad about it. He asked us to help him to get the girl back. We tried some simple things to return the girl, but without luck. Ultimately, we had to try something dangerous: to possess the girl with the spirit of Mohini.

For that we had to chant gatha (prayers) for a week. Every day, we had to do the chanting three times: at the sunrise, when the sun was above our head, and at the sunset. During the chanting we had to keep our legs in a stream of water.

For each session we also had to prepare an offering to Mohini. It had to have 7 types of fruits, 7 types of meat of animals who live on earth, 7 types of meat of animals who live under the water, a rose water bottle, betel leaves, some servings of alcohol and some other drug substances. All these were placed on top of a three-legged wooden structure that was made using three pieces of sticks.

After preparing the offerings to Mohini, we put our legs into the flowing water and did the chanting to the piece of string 21 times in one session. After chanting we threw the offerings of that session into the river and hung the piece of string on a tree. For the next session we prepared a new set of offerings and did the chanting again.

The aim of the rituals was to tie the spirit of Mohini to that piece of string. When this would be done (so, after seven days) we had one and a half days to make sure that the girl steps over this string. Once she does, she will be possessed by the spirit of Mohini, and we can order the demon to bring the girl to wherever we want.

On the first day, the weda mahaththaya warned me that our task is very challenging, and no matter what I see during the chanting, I should not get scared. He didn’t go into details, and I didn’t pay much attention to what he said.

On the third day, while we were doing the chant, weda mahaththaya nudged my elbow and pointed towards the structure with the offerings. When I looked there, I saw a beautiful lady in white clothes, seated on the wooden structure! Her face was pale and expressionless. Then weda mahaththaya nudged me again, indicating me not to stare at her. That time, unlike previously, we waited for a while before taking our legs out of the water after chanting.

I was truly scared. On the way home, weda mahaththaya told me that it was the spirit of Mohini. She had come to accept our offerings. He said that from that time onwards, we can expect her to come again to take the offerings. Indeed, the same lady was on top of the wooden structure in each of the following chanting sessions.

On the seventh day, after we were done with the chanting, we took the string and tricked the girl to step over it. Then we took the string back to the riverside and carried out another chanting, ordering the spirit of Mohini to bring the girl to meet the boy. Next day the girl called the boy saying she wanted to meet him. Our job was successful.

I never expected this, but seeing the spirit of Mohini with my own eyes truly made me think that there is actually some truth behind at least the stories about Mohini.