Water Spirit Possession among the Khasis: Representation of Fear through Narratives

  • Margaret Lyngdoh (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This article argues that genre markers employed in oral narratives about possession by water spirits serve to exemplify human / non-human relations in Khasi supernatural ontology. It is not the aim of this work to add to the existing corpus of theories on narrative genre studies, but to try to analyse how genre boundaries within the Khasi language help shape and articulate relationality, interaction and participation between humans and entities of water. The article elucidates the way in which the “supernatural” world is understood and mediated through the mechanism of fear and its absence, as manifested in the narratives. Through case studies collected during primary fieldwork from various interlocutors from different parts of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, attitudes towards entities identified as sourced from the Khasi traditional religion help to create and shape the “new” frames of Christianity, urbanisation and modernity within which these entities operate.


Northeast India, Khasi, water spirits, puri, narratives, folklore