The next time you find yourself in a cemetery or graveyard and you hear something out of the ordinary and think it’s a ghost, perhaps it’s really Maha Sohona, the “great graveyard demon.” This character is part of Sinhalese folklore, which I discovered while doing other research.
According to the legend, Maha Sohona was originally a giant called Jaya Sena who had offended one of the ten giant warriors of Dutthagamani, Gotaimbara. Gotaimbara challenged Jaya to a duel and since Jaya had never been defeated, he readily accepted the challenge. Unfortunately, Jaya was easily defeated and Gotaimbara kicked off his head after he’d won. The planet god Senasura (Saturn) saw what had happened and fastened a bear’s head to Jaya’s corpse, thereby bringing him back to life. However, Jaya returned to life as a demon and began haunting graveyards and was from then on called Maha Sohona.
Maha Sohona haunts graveyards in search of human prey, but has also been known to roam around the junction of three roads. He spreads cholera and dysentery and kills people by striking them between the shoulders. Anyone who is supposedly killed by this demon will have a handprint on their skin as a result of this striking. He also possesses individuals and is chief of 300,000 other demons.
He is described as being 122 feet tall with three eyes and four hands and red skin. He has the head of a bear (as previously mentioned) and rides a pig while drinking the blood of an elephant which he carries with him.
Among the chilling masks used for exorcism [is] the mask of the Maha Sohona Yaka… The Maha Sohona Yaka is a demon with a bear’s head that is said to roam cemeteries in search of human prey.
The kattadiyas or exorcists of yore feared to sell or dispose of these masks lest the wrath of the demons befell them. Legend has it that when exorcism rituals take place in one location, the Kola Sanni Yaka masks in other places begin to vibrate. When not in use, the mask is wrapped in a red cloth and kept separately from other masks.
Wikipedia and Unmasking the man behind the demons