Accepted paper:

The arts and aesthetics of popular healing among the Santals of rural West Bengal, India


Kamminthang Mantuong (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the aesthetics of popular healing as performed by the Deyashis of Santal 'tribal' village.

Paper long abstract:

The notion of 'aesthetics' in healing ritual as performed by the Deyashis of Santal tribal village seem to established new order and cosmos. With this in mind, the author of this paper examines the Deyashi-faridi relationship in a 'clinical' setting with rural West Bengal as its ethnographic site. The author examines the shifting 'mental landscape' and 'ideational cosmos' of the faridis (clients) as Santal cosmology intersect with the sacred cosmology of Hindu 'cure deities'. The coming of Deyashis, the traditional Hindu healers, in Santal village mark a sharp departure from their dependence on the Santal traditional healers called the Ojhas. This has implication not only on the materiality and practice of ritual healing, but also on the experience of illness and health itself. On top of this, the author examines how the folk healer relates to biomedicine as an important reference point and exit strategy in his dealings with the faridis.

panel P46
Aesthetics of healing and the body in a globalising world