The Caravan

Possessed by Greed

“This process will never come to an end,” Lakhyamati Daimary told me. “For as long as you make sure that the villagers keep believing in dainadaini”—the Bodo term for witches—“you don’t need any other way to fool them to get your work done.”

In 2014, Lakhyamati, a cook at a primary school in Jangalgaon, a village in Assam’s Udalguri district, was accused of practising witchcraft. “My brother-in-law said that my daughter’s friend had been possessed by Aai Goxani”—a goddess associated with smallpox, also called Sheetala—“and that she had claimed I was a witch, who would wreak havoc in the entire village,” she said. “How does a 16-year-old girl claim such things and the villagers believe her? You tell me.”

Lakhyamati did not take the accusation seriously at first, she added, “but then the villagers

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