Think vampires are all the same? Think again! Vampires come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins ice cream. So, this special DotW feature, Vampires we know and love, spotlights different kinds of bloodsucking fiends from around the world.
While a vetal (or baital) doesn’t drink blood, it is a spirit that animates corpses, so we’ll call it close enough to a vampire for now. Especially since they are half-man, half-bat.
The vetala are Hindu spirits trapped in the dead zone between life and the afterlife because they didn’t have the proper funeral rites performed for them. They can cause miscarriages, madness, and they can kill kids.
While they can be repulsed by chanting mantras, and gotten rid of entirely by giving them the proper funeral, some Indian sorcerers have a different tactic for dealing with the vetala. They capture a vetal to work for them.
It’s pretty handy, since the vetala know the past, present, and future. So the sorcerer will make a slave out of the demon and get it to answer questions, run errands, that kind of thing.
There’s a series of famous Indian stories called Baital Pachisi or Vetala Panchvimshati, in which King Vikram tries to capture a vetal for a tantric magician.
- Rosemary Guiley, Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters, Checkmark Books, 2005