A churel, also written as "churail" is a female ghost out of Hindu folklore.
She appears either as a hideous creature with long, pendant breasts, sharp long teeth, unkempt hair, and a black tongue, or as a beautiful young woman who can charm any man. Often, her feet are backward, and she has an unnaturally long black tongue.
The churel is the revenant of a woman who dies under such circumstances as:
- Being pregnant
- Giving birth to a child
- Being in her period of menstruation on a holy day
- Belonging to a low caste or the outcast Untouchables
Due to the fact that young men are the cause of her death, the churel always drinks from young men, beginning with the one she loved in life. She keeps them enthralled, draining them of their vitality, until they prematurely become grey-haired old men.
The ways to prevent or get rid of a churel include:
- Piercing the thumbs and forefingers of the corpse with nails.
- Binding the the toes of the corpse together with an iron ring.
- Breaking the legs of the corpse above the ankles.
- Burying the corpse face downwards.
- Burying the corpse in a special place such as one near the house which was always in shadow at high noon.
- Fixing an iron nail at each of the four corners of the burial site.
- Placing millet or mustard seeds, thorns, or iron nails in the grave itself and/or on the ground above the grave.
- Placing millet or mustard seeds on the road between the grave and her former home.
- Placing millet or mustard seeds, thorns, or iron nails on the threshold of her former home. The practices involving millet or mustard seeds had to do with notion that the revenant became pre-occupied with counting these. The same practices and belief here concerning seeds and such occurs in Eastern Europe and, at least to some degree, in many other parts of the world.
- Ritual offerings and rites of exorcism performed at the site of the grave.
- Sometimes the corpse was cremated. But then a ball of thread is burned with it in belief that the woman's spirit will be so occupied with unwinding the ball that she will forget the gripe she has with her relatives.
- The Vampire Encyclopedia by Matthew Bunson
- The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton
- Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend