Western culture is full of references and content about witches. From Sabrina to Charmed to American Horror Story to even Game of Thrones. Well the world of Indian folklore and mythology also has its own variety of witches and today we will focus on Nale Ba.
Nale Ba (or Naale Baa) translates to “come tomorrow” in Kannada and hails from folklore that ran rampant in Bangalore (before Bangalore officially became known as Bengaluru) in the 90s.
According to legend, she is a witch that roams the streets at night in search of her next victim. She will knock at your door asking to be let in. To trick you, she has the ability to replicate the voice of someone you love, but beware, it’s merely a disguise.
Once you open the door, it’s game over. If you have the words “come tomorrow” written on the door she’ll literally do just that and come back the next night.
Is there a way to actually get rid of her for good? Probably a job for GhostBusters.
‘Stree’: A Bollywood Nale Ba Story
Bollywood shined a light on Nale Ba in 2018 through the film Stree. The film is about a small town in Indian where the men live in fear because of a mysterious woman that abducts men at night, leaving only their clothes behind. The feature made some changes to the story which included giving the witch an origin story of her own. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out more.
In some versions of the lore, she’s a bridal witch in search of her missing husband. Most likely not so she can cook him a delicious meal. Maybe that’s where Stree got their inspiration from.
‘A Knock at the Door’ — Using the Nale Ba in Our Podcast
I first heard of Nale Ba when I was doing research on real-life ghost stories from India. Truthfully, I’m not sure what Reddit deep dive led eventually me to Nale Ba, but the moment I heard the story, I was hooked.
My context for witches had always been from the lens of Western culture, I had never heard of witches in India! I immediately asked my parents about it and, unfortunately, they too had never heard of Nale Ba which makes sense, they moved to the states long before the 90s, but even my parents wanted to know more.
My dad then went on to tell me about a local witch in his village when he was growing up. He claims she stalked the woods behind their house in search of her next victim, usually a child up to no good. He’s pretty sure it’s just an urban legend his mom told him to keep him out of trouble. It does beg the question, though, why are witches always given a bad rep? Maybe she was just lonely. But that’s probably a whole other article from another time.
When we were writing our horror sci-fi podcast, We Don’t Belong Here, we wanted to pull from different mythologies, things from our own cultures we haven’t seen or heard of before. The idea behind the podcast was simple: take back ownership of the stories and myths of our cultures. As we started mapping out episodes, I remembered the story of Nale Ba and wanted to find a way to incorporate her into what we were trying to say.
Thanks to fellow co-writers Ryan Thomas Riddle and Tamara Syed we were able to make it happen. No matter the genre, there’s something very empowering about seeing (or in this case hearing) parts of your culture being reflected in the media you consume.
Take a listen:
Open the door and be ready to suffer the consequences. Know more about Nale Ba than what’s listed above, let us know on our Discord!
Feature image by Eesha Chavan.