The Churel is a vampire ghost of India. If a woman had been treated badly by her family, she would return to harass them and to dry up the blood of the male family members. The spirit is also thought to be that of a woman who died in childbirth or while menstruating. The churel usually makes her first victim her last lover or her most cherished family member, and proceeds backward until everyone has been drained of life.
The Indian Churel takes the form of a beautiful woman and charms men. In some legends, if a man was tempted by a churel and ate the food she offered, she would keep him with her. The Churel will charm the same man for years, eventually returning him to his village old and gray.
A Churel has feet that are turned backward so that her heel was in the front and her toes in the back. She generally has bloody claws, filthy hair, and dangling breasts. Some stories claim she has jutting teeth and an unusually long, black tongue; other stories say she doesn’t have a mouth at all.
In some stories, the Churel may be refered to as jakhin, jakhai, mukai, nagulai, and alvantin.
Woman at the time of childbirth and their infants were given great attention by family and friends. A woman who died in childbirth was likely to become a ghost. To prevent that from occuring, the family would bury rather than cremate the body. They would fix nails in the ground at the corners of the burial spot and plant red flowers on top of the grave. A woman who died in childbirth was also buried in a special place.
It was believed that by not using the front door, the churel would be unable to find her way home. Some used iron nails in the house’s threshold and sprinkled millet seeds on the road to the burying ground. The churel must count the seeds, as a task that kept her busy until daybreak.
In Punjab, a woman who died in childbirth would have nails driven through her hands and feet, red pepper placed in her eyes, and a chain wrapped around her feet. Others broke the legs above the ankles and turned the feed around backward, bound the big toes together, or simple bound the feet with iron rings.