There’s money to be had in bringing in the head of a vampire. Or just proof of their existence. Really. About two thousand dollars worth.
Of course there’s a catch. Apart from the whole finding-proof-vampires-exist, you have to go to India to collect the bounty. Which brings up another tricky bit–you have to prove the existence of Indian vampires. These are not the cape-wearing, sparkling and/or furrow-browed creatures familiar to westerners. No, in the subcontinent the nearest equivalent of the vampire is a creature known as the Rakshasa. Karl Kolchak even fought on The Night Stalker way back when. No one is turned into a Rakshasa. These are shape-shifting, flesh-devouring demons with an wide array of powers. Some western games tend to re-imagine them as wizard-warriors with the heads of tigers.
And they’re killing cattle. A lot of cattle. Or so folks in Dharmapuri say. This is the equivalent of the U.S. state capital of a district called Tamil Nadu in south central India (there are some really beautiful waterfalls nearby). Large numbers of cattle have been dying in large numbers, sparking terror in many villagers who cower in their homes. Actually, this is a bigger deal than it seems to us. Doing harm to cattle in a Hindu culture is a blasphemy. Imagine if someone celebrated July Fourth by barbequing American Bald Eagles. And using the flag and bibles as kindling. Well, this is worse than that. In many parts of India slaughtering cattle is the equivalent of a felony–carrying prison terms and hefty fines. The Ministry of Agriculture in India once quoted Mahatma Gandhi as saying, “Mother cow is in many ways better than the mother who gave us birth.”
Locals in nearby villages like Gundalapatti and Mottangurichi believe vampires are killing their cattle. Specifically they believe a kind of evil female ghost called a Ratha Kaatteri is doing it. And they fear to become victims themselves. Politicians don’t think so, especially members of the Dravidar Kazhagam Political Party and local officials. They have put a bounty out for a vampire corpse, the equivalent of $2000. “It is a big hoax. Anti-socials whose illegal night activities such as bootlegging and liquor brewing have been disturbed are spreading rumors and killing cattle,” said O. Jayaraman, who announced the reward. “Since people are not willing to believe us, we have challenged them with this reward.” Meanwhile, villagers head indoors at night and paint holy symbols on their homes to ward away the evil spirits.
All this was covered in the Deccan Chronicle and picked up by the Huffington Post as well as others. Curiously, the article didn’t mention the possibility of disease.
On a personal note, I for one would enjoy if some American politicos took the hint and began accusing their opponents of being undead. While outrageous, such statements might certainly render the upcoming presidential race more entertaining.