Throwing light on 'healing practices' in North East
A workshop on 'Traditional Medicine Systems and the Indigenous Healing Practices in North East India: Methodological Challenges' was organised recently at IGNCA by Kala Nidhi Division, Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) in collaboration with Anthropos India Foundation (AIF).
Dr Ramesh Gaur, Director, Kala Nidhi, IGNCA welcomed the participants and provided an overview of Kala Nidhi programmes and activities. He also talked about the genesis of the project.
Followed by the welcome address, Dr Sunita Reddy Associate Professor in JNU and founder member of AIF introduced the project by sharing the conceptual understanding, objectives, methods and ethical aspects in undertaking this study, which will maintain the academic rigour and yet make it accessible for the general public, using radio visual documentation.
Dr Sachidhanand Joshi, Member Secretary, IGNCA in his inaugural session gave very insightful remarks and shared that IGNCA has richness in various knowledge systems, however, the project should focus on the traditional healing practices. He further suggested that emotional connect should be brought out which is the essence of any healing process. He also suggested that this research can help in designing Post Graduate diploma or a certificate course on traditional healing system, which are so important given the wide use across communities.
The aim of the workshop was to deliberate on the project taken up by AIF and invite comments, suggestions, and challenges in doing an ethnographic research in the selected three states of North East States (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Manipur). Given the plurality of healing systems in India, especially the non-codified systems, which needs to the recognition given their presence at the community level which takes the huge burden of taking primary level care.
In the workshop, it was suggested that a robust study in a state will set the standard framework which will help in expanding this study not just to North Eastern states but can be taken up at the national level. Further, digitising the findings will be in the public domain for acknowledging the knowledge of the healers, the value of such healing practices by the communities without impinging on the secrecy of their practice and giving them the intellectual property rights.
Dr Shailaja Chandra shared her experience researching with local health tradition in North East and also suggested IGNCA should also organise a festival of healers in its premise.
During the workshop, in various sessions, interesting ideas came up along with many challenges to be faced. Use of SWOT studies, looking at healing as an integral part of local culture and interconnected with various festivals, rituals, taboos, natural resource base, and the practices needs to be written keeping the narratives intact for various interpretation. The Intellectual property rights and the challenges in the integration of their knowledge was discussed at length. The challenges of languages, limitation of interpretation, understanding of ethnic groups, local culture, diversity, and the wide geographic area need to be taken into account while doing research.
Following the workshop, an ethnographic research will be carried out bringing in 'emic' perspective and also from critical medical anthropology perspective, connecting the micro level reality to mess and macro factors influencing the traditional healing systems.