Urban legends to make your Halloween spookier

  • Sanya Kaushik, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 31, 2014 16:11 IST

Science has advanced to a point where almost everything can be quanitifed, broken down into simple, easy facts and figures. But even with all our fancy gadgets and toys, there's something to be said for certain myths and urban legends that, through word-of-mouth and the internet, have come to be a part of the modern social fabric, but have little or no scientific base.

Urban legends are absolutely fascinating. Even the most skeptical of us enjoy reading them. Come Halloween time, horror and mystery buffs can't get enough of these exaggerated, sometimes downright ludicrous anecdotes.

Here are some of the creepiest urban legends from around the world to keep you entertained this Halloween.

1. India:

Kuldhara (Rajasthan) - Kuldhara is a small village in Rajasthan, 15 km from Jaisalmer. Known as the The Ghost Town, Kuldhara has been abandoned since the 1800s because it is believed to be cursed by villagers who migrated to other places. The legend says that the village was once very popular, but one night in 1825, every single person in Kuldhara and the 83 nearby villages disappeared without a trace in the dark. Nobody saw them leave, they simply vanished.

The floating lights of Bengal: Aleya Ghost Lights, as the local fishermen call them, are mysterious blobs of floating light that appear in the Bengal marshes, and have no distinct source of light. These ghostly lights have been known to lead fishermen astray, causing them to lose their bearing.

2. Columbia: La Llorona

The legend of La Llorona is widely believed in most Spanish-speaking American colonies. La Llorona is Spanish for 'the crying woman'. The story is that there was once a beautiful woman who, in order to be with the man she loved, drowned her own children. She was then rejected by her beloved and, unable to bear the pain and guilt, killed herself.

As to why the man rejected her is unclear; different versions claim different reasons, like maybe the man did not want to be with a woman who had kids, or had kids himself and found her act abhorrent. La Llorona constantly cries, looking for her children whom she murdered. In some versions, she kidnaps children, or punishes them for misbehaving.

3. Mexico: La Planchada

Spanish for 'the ironing lady', La Planchada is an urban legend that is famous in Mexican villages. She is said to have been a nurse who fell in love with a doctor who rejected her, or alternatively, killed a patient. Many eyewitnesses say they have seen her roaming in village as well city hospitals in an early 20th Century nurse's uniform that is perfectly ironed.

She has even been known to heal some patients in the emergency room. It is unclear as to where and how the legend originated, and most people are ambivalent about La Panchada's nature.

4. China: Slit-mouthed woman

This gory and horrifying tale comes to us from China, specifically from the Nagasaki area. Kuchisake-onna is said to have been a gorgeous woman who was married to a Samurai. When her husband caught her cheating on him with a younger man, he flew into a fit of rage and slit her face from ear to ear, brutally killing her.

Since then, Kuchisake-onna has been haunting Chinese men, walking up to them wearing a surgical mask and asking, "am I pretty?". If the man says yes, she rips off the mask to reveal the disfigured face underneath, and repeats the question. Whatever the answer, she rips the man's face from ear to ear and leaves him for dead.

5. USA: Black Eyed Kids (BEK)

Perhaps one of the creepiest urban legends to date, BEK was started a few years ago when a few individuals started spreading the story of their encounter with children who had completely black eyes.

The legend is, if you're driving alone on a dark stretch of highway, or are alone at home on a stormy night, these children will show up and ask for a ride, or to be let into the house. They cannot harm you if you don't let them in, thus prompting a comparison between the Black Eyes to Kids to vampires. If you say no, they will keep asking, growing louder and more persistent with each request.

Black Eyes Kids are said to be demons who, disguised as children, try to gain entry into the human realm to harvest souls.

6. The Philippines: Tiyanak

In Phillipine mythology, Tiyanak is claimed to be a vampiric abomination that takes on the form of human babies in order to get its victims. The legend says that the Tiyanak lies in wait in the woods or forest and cries loudly, leading hikers to follow the sounds. Once the hiker picks up it up, it reverts to its true form and attacks. In some versions, the Tiyanak is said to kidnap and eat children.

7. Japan: Hanako-San, the Toilet Ghost

Hanako-San is the ghost of a young Japanese girl with bobbed black hair and a red skirt, who has a penchant for haunting the third stall of any elementary school washroom. She's particualrly moody; where most ghosts will either scare the living daylights out of you but leave you physically unharmed, or subject you to a painful and gruesome death, Hanako-San may or may not let you live, depending on how malevolent she feels that day.

While she's said to haunt all school bathrooms, you'll only make her acquaintance only if you're stupid enough to summon her by knocking on her stall door 3 times and asking, "Are you there, Hanako-San?". If she replies, you could open the door and most likely be sucked into the toilet and murdered. If you don't open the door, she'll let you pass, no harm done.

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