The Legend of the Odiyans – A Long Forgotten Story

The Legend of the Odiyans


It was one day while watching a TV show that I came across the Odiyan, an upcoming Malayalam movie. Intrigued by its unusual name, I inquired my mom about it and she said that the Odiyans were people associated with black-magic and there was my dad, who said that they were just pessimistic people who would create obstructions in another’s path, troublemakers. But somehow these explanations did not satisfy my ever-increasing curiosity. So off I went to my trusty old Google-uncle and whatever he said was creepy, and a bit bone-chilling.

According to sources, the Odiyans were believed to be shape-shifting black-magicians, assassins who were hired by the upper classes to finish off their enemies. They were mostly the occupants of the lower classes of the society, who mostly lived in forests and worshipped strange deities, and this, in turn, gave them strange powers. So when an upper-class landholder wanted to finish a long-standing dispute between him and someone by killing that person, the Odiyans were the way to go. They would do the dirty work and hence, the upper classman was saved. They did their work immaculately. But how?

In order to assassinate someone, an Odiyan would apply some oil (the ingredients of which I will come to shortly – be prepared!) behind his ear, which would create an illusion in the mind of the victim; the Odiyan would appear as an animal to him. It would often be a deformed or injured animal, like let’s say, a bull with a broken leg. This was to lure the victim towards him in order to kill. Moved by sympathy and curiosity, the victim would approach the animal, and then, boom! The guy’s over!

Now let’s get to the oil. Now it’s a little disturbing, so don’t tell me I didn’t warn you, okay? The oil was created in a long and tedious procedure from an unborn human-fetus. It was said that the Odiyan would lure a pregnant woman at night to walk out of her house through magic. She would go wherever the Odiyan wanted her to, once she reached the destination, he would open her tummy, take her not-so-fully-developed baby and extract the oil from it in a long, tiring process. The woman? Well, she could be found the next day in her bedroom, spic, and span as if nothing ever happened. Only, the baby would be missing. Sweet, right?

Why would someone take such drastic measures to kill someone? Well, the explanation given was that, back then, almost everyone was trained in martial arts and were strong, so it wasn’t quite so easy to kill. Why kill anyone at all? I got no idea!!

It’s a crazy and horrific legend. I don’t know if it’s true or not, I’ve never seen one! But it’s a part of the ancient beliefs and intricate cultures of Kerala. Anyway, it’s enough to give normal people nightmares!!


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