Legend Has It There's A Female Demon Who Kills Awful Husbands

Best demon ever?

churel female demon Kulichok / Shutterstock

By Sarah Khan

Like all other cultures, South Asia has its own selection of other-worldly monsters to scare children (and even some adults). None of them really ever frightened me because they all seemed to have a reason for being the way they are.

The one that intrigues me the most of them all is the Churel also spelled Chuṛail, Cuḍel, Churreyl, Chudel, or Cuḍail.

In Pakistan, Churel is also the word for a living witch. But this ghostly female demon is the man-hating, anti-patriarchy, kind of iconic ghost that I hope to become when I pass away.


What is the Churel?

The legend of the Churel reportedly started in Persia, but is currently most prominent in South Asia, specifically India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. She is said to be the ghost of a wronged woman; usually, a woman who dies during childbirth.

Other names for the Churel are jakhin, mukai, and nagulai.



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The Churel is an ugly, horrific-looking creature with fanged teeth, serpent black tongue, and snake-like hair who can take any shape she pleases.

In Pakistan, its legend adds on that she cannot change her feet, which are pointed backward. For this reason, she’s also known as pichal peri, which literally means “back footed.” Other characteristics are a pot belly, sagging breasts, and alluring eyes.

Generally, the Churel will take the form of a traditionally beautiful woman in order to lure men into secluded forested areas before she shape-shifts back into her true self.

Some say that she’s not malicious while most folklore about her says that she’s vengeful and returns to kill the men in her family, starting with those who wronged her when she was alive by sucking the life force from their bodies.


How does a woman become a Churel?

The most common reasons women come back as Churels are if they die during childbirth (sometimes if a woman dies during pregnancy) or in the 12 days after childbirth when she is considered “impure,” according to Indian superstition.

A woman can also come back as a Churel if she was mistreated by relatives during her lifetime or if she was sexually dissatisfied.

Because of this fear, families were encouraged to take extra good care of women relatives, such as daughters-in-law, especially pregnant ones. It’s also the reason why families are likely to actively be humane to the women in their families.

Another reason a woman becomes a Churel is if she has an unnatural death or was murdered.


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Is a Churel considered a feminist heroine?

The Churel is a modern-day feminist hero.

The fact that people need to be scared by an urban legend into being decent to the women in a family is appalling in itself, but I like to think that the legend of the Churel was created by women in order to scare men into treating them like human beings.

Women have long been considered second-class citizens and little less than incubators for babies, so can we really blame women for potentially creating a terrifying demon to scare people into treating them with basic humanity?

The idea that a witchy demon who can shape-shift and lures men to their demise exists in a culture that is so blatantly misogynistic is refreshing.


While there are those who are deeply engrossed in the misogynistic cultures of South Asia, and even women who have ingrained misogyny they’ve not unlearned (or are simply unaware that it’s there to begin with), people still fear the Churel and think of her as something evil and unsavory.

But many find her to be a breath of fresh air.

As a being that is most likely to be fictional (I say most likely because, personally, I want to believe she’s real so badly), the Churel is doing what many living women (and men) are unable to do: petition for humane and equal treatment for themselves.


Though I’ve been treated well by my family in my lifetime, a part of me still wishes that if I am to live through an afterlife, it should be as a Churel demon, so I can seek vengeance on behalf of mistreated women across the globe.

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Sarah Khan is a Toronto-based editor and writer, and contributor to Ravishly, Cinefilles, Shameless, ANDPOP, and The Lifestyle Report.