| Ipsita Roy Chakraverti at the Wiccan Brigade session at ITC Sonar on Saturday; the Brigade members in a healing ceremony
After a psychic expedition to the “haunted” Bhangarh fort in Rajasthan in January, the Calcutta-based Wiccan Brigade checked out the BNR Hotel in Puri, “which has a lot of history”, in June. On Saturday at ITC Sonar’s Pala banquet hall, the Brigade, led by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, had assembled to provide “answers to some mysteries”.
“It is an afternoon of enchantment,” said the wiccan high priestess, as the lights dimmed and she began to read out from Beloved Witch, her much-acclaimed autobiography on witchcraft, a path “to which many come but few are chosen”.
The Brigade members, all dressed in black, then shared their findings from and experiences of the investigations carried out at the two places — dwelling on the factors contributing to a haunted place to the various forms of “manifestations”, and symptoms of visual disorientation and memory loss suffered by some in the course of the research.
“The work with hauntings is something that even well-known people in the past have acknowledged and talked about,” said Ipsita, referring to a project she wishes to take up in future — Thomas Alva Edison’s controversial “spirit machine”, believed to have been made by the scientist to “measure the human body that might scatter after death”. And you thought Edison only made the light bulb!
Throwing more light on the Bhangarh and BNR trips, the Brigade displayed photographic evidence of “suggested spirit activity”, like orbs — or “balls of light with a consciousness” — citing theologian Michael Ledwith and NASA researcher Klaus Heinemann’s pioneering work in this field.
Bhangarh, which has remained deserted since a famine in 1783 wiped out life from the fort complex, is infamous as a place where no one dares set foot after sundown. Not surprising, since the Archaeological Survey of India bars visitors after 5pm and villagers often “abuse” a “powerful” place like Bhangarh by conducting various forms of witch-hunt and depossession rituals.
“The dark corridors of the fort bear traces of dark magic that is practiced there now. We saw rituals being conducted in two rooms in the fort,” said a member.
At the BNR Hotel, Puri, the focus was on rooms 12 and 14 that are now kept under lock and key. The members captured on camera orbs, misty formations and psychic superimposition during two trips to the hotel.
“I have seen the apparition of a young woman who was attached to room 14 and was very hostile to me,” recounted Ipsita, who had earlier documented her paranormal experiences at BNR in the story Trapped, which was turned into a telefilm by ETV Bangla last year.
But what exactly is the aim behind these psychic expeditions? “Apart from the adventure, it is to prove to society that there is another world out there. And that death is not the end of everything. In Britain, you have the SAGB (Spiritualist Association of Great Britain) but in India, everything is muddled in superstition. People take advantage of that and put in a lot of hocus-pocus. I have tried to take away the superstition and leave behind what is genuine,” she said.
Ending the enchanted afternoon on a musical note, Anjan Dutt took the stage with son Neel, guitarist Amyt Dutta and Deboprotim Baksi on drums. The songs chosen spoke of the spirit — from The Music of the Night from The Phantom of Opera to Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven, Anjan’s own Jeremir Behala to What a Wonderful World that he dedicated to Ipsita.
A spot of healing with ancient Egyptian chants of wicca brought the session to a close.
Karo Christine Kumar
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