By Paominlen Haokip
Belief in the existence of evil or malevolent spirits has been a commonplace feature of the religious belief systems of almost all known tribal societies. Though such a ‘belief’ remains a mystery, for it is not amenable to scientific, empirical explanation, it nevertheless constitutes an important feature of the religious belief system of such societies. In this paper, attempts have been made to provide a detail account of such a belief in evil or malevolent spirits amongst the ethnic ChinKuki groups of Manipur. To this end, specific focus has been given to the belief in a particular malevolent spirit known as Inn-Kaose in local parlance which is believed to be capable of causing human suffering, misery, and misfortunes. Based on in-depth interviews, the paper seeks to delineate the pervasiveness of the belief in Inn-Kaose and how it plays a pivotal practical role in structuring socio-cultural life of the community. It also brings out to the fore the different oraltraditions that explained the origin and evolution of the InnKaose/Lhagao-Boh evil spirits.