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Bhoots are ghosts from Indian folklore, whose feet are facing backwards:

Bhoots are able to alter and assume forms of various animals at will, but are usually seen in human form. However, their feet often reveal them to be ghosts, as they are backwards facing.

Source: Bhoot (ghost), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Bhoot_(ghost)&oldid=692466844 (last visited Jan. 25, 2016)

Is there a story that explains this revealing deformity?

  • This is based on a question from the site's Area51 definition phase. – yannis Jan 27 '16 at 17:02
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    In European folklore, the devil is depicted with a deformed foot, mostly in form of a goat, or wearing a hoof. There might be a more general archetype. – Gyro Gearloose Feb 1 '16 at 22:05
  • Isn't there a woman in the Ulster Cycle, fleet of foot, whose knee joints bend backwards like the hind legs of a horse or deer? (Completely different purpose, but I figured since we were talking about backwards appendages it was worth mentioning.) – DukeZhou Dec 30 '16 at 16:44
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This is an answer given by my Indian grandpa, so please take it with a pinch of salt.

As most hero-villain war stories in old movies and old stories in India go, it mostly involves the protagonist hitting the antagonist on the head, behind by a club or some kind of a weapon, knocking him/it cold.

So, the bhoots(or more popularly called "chudails") have their feet backwards in order to confuse the prey.

It is also interesting to notice that they also wear their hair forwards, which also makes it difficult to see where they are looking at, and also a bit difficult to perceive the head's orientation.

For the uninitiated, chudails are believed to be the spirits of dead people.

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