In Sankive, where all the action of Ghost Monkey occurs, there are the janaav. The janaav are animals which drank special water and can now shape shift into humans, as well as a half human and half animal form.
The inspiration for the janaav came from watching documentaries on India, which I highly suggest. There are a few on Netflix. I’m sure Disney+ has some great ones, too. Documentaries are the easiest way to travel without leaving your couch.
Animals in India
India treats animals with such reverence. Monkeys in their streets are fed (some of the year). There are villages which do not kill snakes, despite being poisonous. Their deities have animal qualities.
Most of their pantheon has some sort of animal form. And who wouldn’t admire animals? Some are strong. Others majestic. There are fearsome killers, and also mischievous imps.
Elephants are royalty. How couldn’t they be? They are massive forces, feared by nearly everything. Even for the mighty lion and tiger it takes incredible cunning to take down the beast. With their tightknit prides, usually it consists of separating a baby or elder from the rest of the pride.
Snakes are incredibly deadly. There is a snake in India, the krait, that injects a paralytic. If bit while sleeping, the venom makes it so you don’t feel the bite, and it looks like a bug bite. You die hours later as your nervous system freezes up.
And they worship these creatures. Some villages refuse to kill them, and have people who travel the village wrangling up the serpents and sending them on their way. That’s insane compassion for something most of the world is terrified of (and so are they, but they love snakes anyway).
Other Animals and More Research
There are so many others. Cow is common knowledge as a creature they revere. There are many others who show up in their stories and rituals.
You can find many documentaries through Netflix and Disney+ on coexisting with animals. There are many shows that might not specifically be India, but it’s still gorgeous. And tragic. Ever watch orcas kill a penguin? For the orcas it’s a comedy. For the penguin it’s a horror.
What are your favorite animals?