Ghost or spirit stories are very common across the world and in Goa, the coastal state from western India, Devchars are the most cherished spirit-gods. Devchar literally means- “The one who has gone the god’s way” in Konkani language.
Generally Devchars are considered to be benevolent spirits, known for their shape-shifting ability but they are also notorious for creating nuisance for people. Thus if someone is a trouble maker, then it is asked in jest “Has Devchar possessed you?” Although feared by children, elders know Devchar is a harmless and also a foolish spirit, who can be easily tricked. The tale shows how the memory of spirit–god is kept alive through folktales.
Sakru had only one daughter by name Rosalin. She had raised her single-handedly after her husband’s death. Rosie as she was called was a pretty girl, and soon grew into a beautiful young woman. Sakru started worrying about her marriage. Eligible boys from the village would send marriage proposals, but Rosie would refuse them on some or the other pretext. “This boy is too tall, or that boy is too short, he is not good looking or he is too dark”, Rosie would find fault with each and every boy and decline the proposal. Sakru was fed up with her daughter’s attitude. One day she told Rosie ” Look my girl, I am fed up with your tantrums. I am going to marry you off to next boy who comes with a marriage proposal. Even if he turns out to be a Devchar, I will offer your hand in the marriage”, she said angrily.
It was night time and a Devchar was lurking in the dark snooping over Sakru’s backyard. He heard, Sakru’s words and jumped onto the veranda and knocked on her door.
Who could have come so late in night?, wondered Sakru.
“Who is that?” Sakru yelled from the house.
“I am Devchar, your Son-in-law. I have come to marry your daughter” replied Devchar with much glee.
Sakru got nervous. She never anticipated that a Devchar would turn up to marry her daughter. She had uttered the words in desperation to coax her daughter to get married but never meant to put it into action. And now a real Devchar was at the door, asking for her daughter’s hand. “What will I do now? How can I go back on my words?”, wondered Sakru.
She turned to her daughter and said “ My girl, looks like you are in for a lot of trouble. A Devchar is standing at the door waiting to marry you. There is no way I can turn him down. So be prepared”.
Hearing her mother’s words Rosie got scared and started trembling in fear.“ Mother, sent him away. Forgive me, I will get married to the boy you choose. Even if he is deaf, dumb or blind, I will marry him. But send this Devchar away.” She pleaded clutching Sakru’s hand tightly.
Sakru gathered her wits, thought for moment and said, “ My dear son in law, how will I know that you are a Devchar?”
“Oh mother in law I am really a Devchar, open the door and see it for yourself” Devchar replied.
“How will I know that? So listen to me and do what I say. Once I am convinced that you are a Devchar, you can marry my daughter.” said Sakru.
Devchar got excited. “Tell me what should I do to prove that I am a real Devchar”, he said impatiently. Sakru said,” If you are a real Devchar, then you come inside the house through the keyhole. This will convince me that you are a real one, and I will give my beautiful daughter to you in marriage.”
“ Oh! That is an easy task. I am coming in Mother-in-law “ said Devchar.
“Wait, wait don’t hurry. Screamed Sakru. “ I will count to three and only then you may come in.” Sakru then went in and brought a bottle and held it around the key hole. As she counted from one to three, Devchar, shrunk himself and squeezed through the keyhole, and ended up inside the bottle. Sakru swiftly closed the bottle with a lid. Devchar started screaming and jumping inside the bottle but no one could hear his screams. His mother in law had tricked him.
Sakru then went into the woods and threw the bottle in a deep pit. Devchar kept pleading to passersby to let him out. But no one would help him. Devchar is still trapped inside a bottle waiting to be rescued.