June 29, 2003
Smooth wine of
Encounters With the Unknown
by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti. HarperCollins India, New Delhi.
Rs 250. Pages 200.
tantrics, voodoo dolls, haunted trees and buildings`85. The list
can go on and on. We have all at one time or the other indulged
our imaginations and dwelt upon the unknown. In Sacred Evil
Ipsita Roy Chakraverti leads us into a world where the mystic
dwells with the tangible and the unreal is not quite so.
written by the author, starts with a disarming sentence:
"At heart, I am a sceptic." The book goes on to prove
that she is anything but. Chakraverti, whose chosen field of
research has been Wikka, or Dakini Vidya, as it is called in
India, is a believer—in the occult, in witchcraft and all
things related to these—and this belief shines forth in her
writing. It is amazing how lucidly she has presented this very
The book is
divided into nine chapters, or encounters, as she calls them. It
presents real-life incidents where her powers as a mediating
agent with the ‘unknown’ are sought by people "troubled
by forces and events they cannot comprehend". The
descriptions themselves could well be from the script of a
horror movie. They range from a young woman possessed by the
evil power of a voodoo doll, a coconut out to kill, a haunted
house with the power to communicate, zombies carrying out such
mundane activities as plying rickshaws, to Goddess Kali who
mesmerises her devotees to a frenzy that can last over a hundred
years. There is even a chapter dealing with necromancy, or the
power to bring the dead to life.