Myth: The Churile

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This week in mythology, we focus on a popular myth that came with the East Indians, the Churile. The name/ word Churile is a common one, especially among those of East Indian origin who have had the opportunity to listen to their grandparents recite tall tales. The word Churile is also used as a derogatory to describe a woman who constantly bickers.

According to legend, a Churile is the spirit of a woman who had died during childbirth, while her baby remained alive. As such, at any given point, the Churile is not a solitary entity but can take multiple forms and multiple personalities. The separation from her baby makes her restless, and so the Churile roams throughout the night, crying mournfully. Tales have been told that on the night of the new moon when the place is darkest, that the Churile passes through the place of her death, looking for her child and in its absence, she mourns woefully creating the sound of a dog howling. Some who claimed to have heard the cries of a Churile described it as a loud pitched scream as she might relive the pain of childbirth, others claim that it is a whimpering followed by human like cries that disappear into the night.

A more grisly account of this type of jumbie is the instance where she is able to find her child or another similar in looks or age to hers. That is when she mourns greatest as she knows that in order for her to find peace, she must take him with her, in the process killing him. Some stories say that she turns the child to sleep on his belly and watch as he slowly suffocate or that she draws the life out of him to go with her leaving an otherwise healthy looking but dead baby. Yet another story says that she removes the air from around the sleeping child, chilling and thinning it so that he suffocates.

No one seems to know what happens after but persons of the older generation suggests that if it was indeed her child, she would find peace and carry on to the next life but if upon the realization that she has take the wrong child, she continues her mourning and her search for the next unsuspecting victim.

The Churile was seen in the past to be the explanation of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by superstitious persons and to also explain infants rolling over and suffocating in their sleep.

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