Joli, The Haunted at Gori
Updated: Feb 11
According to GALO beliefs, YAPOM or YAPOM-YAJE are some kind of spirit which dwells in deep forests. Such forests are rarely ventured by humans for their activities. They cannot be seen by humans as their world is metaphysical in nature. These spirits are believed to have their own organizations akin to human beings and they too have their hierarchies and tribes. They organize marriage ceremony, fight wars for their supremacy and protect their territories. The high and huge dark trees are their homes and the hanging vines and creepers their ladders. All the wild animals such as wild boars, deers and birds are believed to be reared by them. They consider certain section of humans in their locality as their relatives and favor some hunters by granting wild animals and birds.
But sometimes, when human beings venture into their territories and cause damage to such grooves of forest believed to be their homes, the hostility is created. When they see that some human individual has breached their territories, extracted forest resources and caused disturbances in their abode, the kidnapping or punishing of such individuals may happen. When these YAPOM-YAJE inflict punishment to such human individual, it is known as YAPOM-PANAM. In such cases, the individuals may die immediately. On the other hand, if the YAPOM-YAJE wants to settle through negotiations, they kidnap the individual who violates their space or resources, such kidnapping and confinement in deep forest in the state of hallucination is called YAPOM JONAM.
Since ages, there are glaring stories of their existence and kidnapping or punishing of humans by these spirits. From many villages, even today, YAPOM PANAM or YAPOM JONAM incidents are reported. When such incidents occur, the village priest would predict through a chicken liverwhether the individual who has vanished into deep forest has been kidnapped or killed by these spirits. If the chicken liver confirms YAPOM-JONAM, then the entire village male folks would fan out towards the indicated directions with arms in search of such person. Such victim, when located is surrounded by people and forcefully pinned down to bring him back to the normal senses through chanting of Priest. Such person behaves very differently, has a very strange body odour and shy away from meeting people.
There are many stories of turf war or supremacy war between YAPOMS. They fight and destroy each other’s dwelling places. Such kind of wars are indicated when the dwelling places of YAPOMS are destroyed by tornado or thunderstorms leading to complete devastation of such forests where as other adjoining forest do not have a trace of such destructions. Most of the stories of YAPOMS are seen or known through dreams of some NYIBO(Priests). The priests also see it through their supernatural powers through NYIGRE HONAM- a ceremony where Priests chant mantras while performing a rhythmic dance and invoke supernatural powers to communicate with metaphysical world.
Hence, it has been the practice of Galo people since ages to make some offering to YAPOMS through POMBEK ceremony before cutting down trees for cultivation, extracting some resources from forest, killing wild animals or settling in a new place. These offerings are mandatory to keep the YAPOMS of that place in good humour and to appease them to avoid any conflict, because YAPOM-YAJE are considered owner of the forest.
In Basar, there are several places which are believed to be the home of some tribe of YAPOMS. They are: JOLLI LAEPO NGUDA POKCHO KIITE RAATE
JOLLI- It is nearest to Gori village. This place is a deep gorge forest through which the HIE river passes. The gorge was earlier covered with tall huge trees and creeping vines with icy cold droplets of water dropping from cracks of rocks into deep river pools. It was a very scary experience to pass through this gorge in olden days and customary practice was to pass through this gorge silently praying. Interestingly, as per legends, it is believed that the YAPOMS of the JOLLI considers the ANGO people of Gori village as their relatives and hence anyone who has matrimonial relations with ANGO people would be treated well by these YAPOMS.
It is believed that YAPOMS of JOLLI would throw wet pebbles at people passing through this gorge to indicate that something bad would happen to such person or his family. It was considered as a very bad omen by the people. There are still many people in Gori village who witnessed pebble pelting by YAPOMS and hearing them narrating the real incidents still creates goose bumps. One of them, Shri Chigi Basar, a retired Govt. employee, son of Late Richi Basar, of Gori-III village still recounts vividly how, while extracting a cane (oho tachin) at the place in 1985, he encountered two snakes blocking his way at Jolly. Within a week, his 5 year old son, who attended the first day of his school died the same evening without any trace of illness. Then, after about four years, a stone was pelted at him while he was angling at JOLLI. Two days later, again, his brother-in-law expired. These incidences may be just coincidences and may not have any scientific relevance to the place per se, but, it germinates some sense of belief in ones minds to these notions, especially, when you have so many living examples to listen to.
In another incidence in the late seventies, a person from Gori I breached into JOLLI and lit fire on dry bushes underneath the deep gorge forest. Within no time, the jungle fire spread across the feared sacred forest of JOLLI and burnt down considerable area of the forest. Immediately, in the following night, the YAPOMS of Jolli punished that person who died early morning next day- which was considered as a clear case of YAPOM PANAM.
JOLLI today is no more the sacred abode of YAPOMS. The encroachment here too by human activities has slowly penetrated the once fearsome gorge forest. The deep blue water pools are now filled with blasted rocks and it is believed that YAPOMS from JOLLI are migrating.
The balance between nature and human beings has been sustained from ages on the premises of the core belief that one has to seek permissions from YAPOMS to exploit nature. However, with the greed of man growing day by day, the ecological balance is now tilted dangerously. The rampant deforestation due to greed for timber products, hunting of wild animals and settlement in catchment areas have led to drying up of rivers, extinction of exotic flora and faunas and climate changes. Once again we have to revive our ecological balance and seek blessings of YAPOMS.
FOR SURVIVAL OF HUMAN WORLD, SURVIVAL OF WORLD OF ALL BEINGS IS NECESSARY INCLUDING METAPHYSICAL WORLD OF YAPOMS.