Archives on Traditional Healing: Trick or Treat?

Dargahs and other indigenous healing centers have come under attack in recent times, following the tragic death of 25 mentally ill people in Tamil Nadu in August, 2001. The ‘Erwadi tragedy’ resulted in a Supreme Court suo moto intervention against local healing sites all over the country. There is witch hunting of dargahs as well as other local healing centers every year, around August by various social and statutory agencies by evoking human rights. This set of medico-legal events has not been targeted towards mental hospitals, and the mental health system, paradoxically: The primary intent of the suo moto action was reform of the mental health system. Against this context, we are presenting our amateur videos on traditional healing systems.

Of primary concern is the fact that, these institutions are facing an immediate threat and closure by the so called “modern” mental health institutions. Secondly, the mental health authorities at various departmental levels have absolutely no knowledge cover or evidence base for their witch hunt. Third, given their poor track record in establishing a human rights compliant mental health service, they do not possess the necessary credentials in mounting a challenge to community practices. Finally, in this process, the local healing community, comprising of the institutional authorities, healers, users and communities, has not ever been a part of or even a passive listener to these normative processes.

‘Reason’ is the ‘maya’ of modernity, trying to limit and seriously reduce the possibilities of the human brain to aspire to touch higher levels of human competence and creativity. As human beings, a part of our brain function turns towards magic, miracle, ritual, dreams, and giving creative expression for our imagination. Nothing new or skilled will be possible without this incredible capacity for transcendence in play, not science nor innovation of any kind. Indigenous healing centers allow these to happen in culturally accessible spaces, closer to home and hearth. 


1. Trick or Treat?

This is a video on the experience of possession among women in various healing centers in Maharashtra.


2. With Rhyme and Reason

This video places the indigenous healing centers within the policy debates happening in the country.

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