Rajesh Rai | Sombek

The ghost has returned from the hideout to terrorise the Ghalley family of Sombek in Sangachholing, Samtse.

A barrage of stones land on the roof every now and then; family members have been hurt.

There has not been stone pelting today, December 3. A shaman (pao) had visited Sabir Ghalley’s house four days ago to conduct ghost-beating rituals. The quiet did not last however. The next day, on December 4, Sabir’s mother, Man Kumari Ghalley, 75, was hit with a stone on her temple.

Khadka Singh Ghalley, a neighbour and a relative, rushed to the scene. Man Kumari’s grandson Sunil Ghalley (Sabir’s son) is hiding behind the altar, trembling with fear.

“An eerie quiet followed,” Khadka Singh Ghalley said.

Kumari has gathered seven stones that came straight her way. A huge flat stone has landed on the edge of the roof. A crowd has gathered. They wait for the stone but it doesn’t come.

It all started on the night of November 19. Sunil Ghalley, 15, was with his grandfather Bhagilal Ghalley, 76, in a makeshift hut with cattle far from home in the woods. At around 7pm when they were sleeping, stones hit the roof of the hut. It would not stop and continued through the night.

They made away to a relative’s hut nearby. But the pelting continued so they went to a nearby village for the night.

“I went to the grazing land next day,” Sabir Ghalley said. “The pelting started at 3:30pm. I was shocked.”

Sabir and his son stayed at the hut until 5pm that day and went to their relative’s hut. Pelting continued with bigger stones this time. They had to run home.

“Something was chasing us. It followed us all the way,” he said.

The next day, Sabir was accompanied by his father, son, and wife. The pelting started at noon. The following day, it started at 7am.

One time, when Sabir Ghalley was in his paddy fields, Sunil called. His son was unconscious with injury on his head.

Sunil said the pots and pans went flying out in the open.

“I saw it with my eyes. It was terrifying,” he said.

People began to notice something about this affair. The pelting happened wherever the 15-year-old Sunil was around. One time, Sunil was returning from market with his uncle in a Bolero. The windows were closed. There were people in the vehicle. Stones hit Sunil even inside the Bolero.

The Bolero driver, Tandin Dorji, attested to it. There were several stones in his vehicle when they reached home.

A shaman was invited to figure out what was behind all this. A stone hit him and he left to invite his master instead. After the news reached the Sangachholing gewog office, 10 monks and a lam were also sent to Sombek to conduct rituals.

There were more than 40 people in the Ghalley home but to everyone’s disbelief, stones kept falling on the roof.

Sher Bahadur Ghalley, 30, a shaman, lives in Sipsu. After ritual, he had informed the family that stone pelting would return.

“I told them to conduct the rituals three times but they failed to come,” he said.

Sher Bahadur Ghalley had never seen something like this before. Before he was invited, the Ghalley family had sent one of the stones to his place. He still has the stone at his home in Sipsu.

“This stone sparked and became like a magnet when I put it on a bronze plate for a ritual,” he said. “Then I knew there was something wrong and decided to go to Sombek.”

Sher Bahadur Ghalley said behind all this is Sabir’s great grandfather. The shaman began narrating the story from four generations ago.

“He was a great shaman but had renounced shamanism to become a sadhu,” Sher Bahadur said, adding that he could not become an accomplished sadhu. “When he died, his family had not conducted the death rites properly. That is why he is haunting his family.”

In Hindu culture, people often conduct some rituals and offerings in the name of their dead ancestors (pitris). It is believed if such rituals are not conducted, the particular family would not prosper and there would be misfortunes aplenty.

“The lam also had said that a great shaman in their family had died in the past and rites were not performed,” shaman Sher Bahadur Ghalley said. “I will have to do this the shaman way to set him free.”

The Ghalley family also has a budding shaman among them. Sunil dropped out of school after it was discovered he had some special powers. He would suddenly go in trance-like state.

Village coordinator Khadka Singh Ghalley said the size of stone that come flying sometimes could kill a person. He said stones falling on the roof when the monks were conducting rituals inside the house was scary.

“I am yet to understand what it is,” he said.

It is harvest time in Sombek. The stone-pelting ghost is the subject of the talk.