Superstition – India

“Bootham” pictures

My informant told me ever since she was young they would have a “bootham” picture in the front of her house. This would be located at the outside entrance of the house. In literal translation bootham means ghost. My informant said that these pictures were put up in front of their house to ward off the evil spirits that may come to haunt the house. In essence the pictures were used to scare the evil spirits away. Many of these “bootham” pictures were pictures of Raksashas. Raksashas are demons or unrighteous spirits in Hindu mythology. The picture above shows a Rakshasa as a person in a costume. My informant also said that she stopped using this superstition when she came to America when I was a little child. She said that due to cultural differences she really couldn’t put up a picture of a demon spirit in front of her house.

She stated that instead of putting up a picture of a demon so the evil spirits would be warded off, she resorted to another superstition. She put up a mirror right across from the entrance so if evil spirits do come in, then they will see themselves and be scared off.

I believe that these superstitions are very accurate to the religion of Hinduism, which I am apart of. The information my informant told me about this superstition was very fascinating and it reinforced my knowledge on such things. Growing up I would always wonder why there was a mirror in front of the house but now I know the real reason, which is to ward off the evil spirits from our house.