Accepted paper:

DIALOGUE WITH GOD …… : Traditional Healing Practice of a SABAR tribal community in Odisha (INDIA)


Itishree Padhi ( BJB Autonomous College, Bhubaneswar)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is based on empirical study to find out the role of village medicine man that acts as the middleman and communicates between God and the community as a part of healing technique to address common illness, besides fortune-telling which has a tremendous impact on the life of people as a whole.

Paper long abstract:

Odisha occupies an important position in the ethnographic map of India for having the largest variety of tribes. Festivals form an essential aspect of socio-cultural life of the tribal people of the state. They are highly religious by the fact that their society and culture is mostly governed by religious beliefs and practices which aim at ensuring personal security, health and happiness as well as community harmony. The empirical study is conducted in a rehabilitated tribal village of SABAR community. The community has accessibility to modern healing practices. In spite of this it still uses the traditional technique of healing common illness like diarrhoea, dysentery, vomiting, jaundice, hallucination etc besides addressing other allied issues of community. The SABAR people believe in "goddess Bhuasuni" - the village deity, fondly called as 'Maa Bhuasuni'. The village priest who is also the community medicine man is a devotee of 'goddess Bhuasuni'; he gets possessed by some supernatural power through which he could communicate with the goddess. The period during which the goddess enters into the body of the man and communicates with people is called 'KALISI'. KALISI listens to people's illness/problems and prescribes solutions to manage the same. Now, the question is … does this practice play an important role in the healing process of people when the village is situated nearest to the capital city having all modern health care facilities? Is it essential for a healthy community life? Does this practice act as a defence mechanism in the community? My paper has tried to analyse these queries.

panel SE23
Action anthropology, tribal medicine and development