Documenting the Tribal Healers of Sikkim

Documenting the Tribal Healers of Sikkim
Prayer flags flutter in the wind, Photo Credit: Shefali Bharati

They operate in places so inaccessible that modern medicine or its services will take days to reach

Shefali Bharati
August 03 , 2020
02 Min Read

As part of the research project ‘Tribal and Folk Healing Practices in Sikkim,’ I journeyed across Sikkim as a visual documenter, capturing life through photographs, videos, and testimonies. 

The project I worked on was carried out by Anthropos India Foundation (AIF) supported by Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA). The practice of traditional healing is slowly diminishing as also recorded by our research. With modernisation, migration to cities, and Western education, fewer children of healer families are continuing the tradition. This poses a great threat to the body of knowledge that is extinguished with the passing away of the practitioner without the transfer of the legacy to next of kin.

The most important thing for us as individuals is to acknowledge, respect and appreciate the service that healers provide to communities in remote areas. They operate in places so inaccessible that modern medicine or its services will take days to reach. In such areas, the healers provide primary health care, often doubling up to give psychological support and ritual services.

My time in Sikkim was filled with hard work, excitement, warmth, and immense awe for nature and the custodians preserving it. These photos give you a glimpse of Sikkim’s nature, culture, and people. 

From rugged mountains in the north to flower valleys in the south, Sikkim renews your mind and soul. The small state is extremely diverse with each region hosting its unique biodiversity, dialects, history, and geographies.

To those looking to explore an experience that makes you humbled, fascinated, and grateful, Sikkim is a beautiful place to start your journey.       

Traditional Dzongu Homes                           

Millet fermented 'Chi'

A healers family

Monks on the pilgrimage for the Bumkur festival

The Bumkur festival

This article is a submission by one of our readers, and part of our new series #OTReadersWrite.   

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