Gangtok, 20 Aug : A book containing fascinating legends and rituals of various ethnic groups of Sikkim was launched by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling here in Gangtok on the occasion of Independence Day.
The book, Faith Healers of Sikkim: Traditions, Legends and Rituals, has been written by Yishey Doma. The 286-page book – a result of passionate grass-roots level research – has twenty-two chapters, each embellished with some rare pictures of faith healers and their rituals taken by Parvin Singh, one of India’s diverse travel photojournalists.
The book is amongst the first of its kind and aims to explore the deep connection all ethnic communities in Sikkim have with the elements of nature and how faith healing is an integral part of their day-to-day life. Every community in Sikkim has its own dhami/ jhankri (faith healer), a ritual specialist who is the first line of help for villagers to propitiate ancestors, benevolent deities and evil spirits, and cure both humans and animals of sickness and ill-health. The book explores the prayers and rituals performed by these ritual specialists to bring happiness, harmony, health and well-being to the individual, family and community.
Faith Healers of Sikkim also features significant steps taken by the state government in recognising religious diversity, and promoting and protecting traditional and cultural practices in Sikkim over the past two decades. It also highlights how Chief Minister Pawan Chamling’s deep care and acuity has strengthened the connection between conservation and faith, and given respect to Sikkim’s shamans as the true guardians of Mother Earth. Their indigenous wisdom has kept the people of Sikkim rooted in their culture and in harmony with nature – making the state a fine example of integrated and interconnected development in the chaos of climate change and religious dissonance that looms large in the world today.
By blending the narrative in legends and account of folk specialists, the author has made the book refreshing to readers. It promises to be a treat for those who are curious about knowing Sikkim’s rich faith healing tradition.
Published by Trysts & Traces for Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Sikkim, the book will be available shortly in all leading book stores across the country. It can also be bought online.
About the Author
Yishey has written several books on Sikkim including Legends of the Lepchas: Folk Tales from Sikkim (Westland/Tranquebar, 2010), which won her the Sikkim Sahitya Samman, one of Sikkim’s highest civilian awards. She is also the winner of MSN-Random House Short Story prize-2012.
In 2014, she was selected by the President of India to stay at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi under the prestigious writers in-residence programme launched by the President.
She has also been conferred the ‘Grassroots Women of the Decade Achievers’ award-2014 by Assocham Ladies League, New Delhi, in recognition of the sensitivity with which she writes and the empathy with which she has fleshed out the socio-cultural nuances of grassroots Sikkim.
Yishey currently holds the position of Research Officer in Chief Minister’s Office, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok.
About the Photographer
Parvin Singh is an avid traveller who has journeyed all over India for more than three decades, recording people, landscape and the traditions of changing cultures, but India’s Northeast, particularly Sikkim struck a chord with him. By documenting people, landscape, art and culture of Sikkim in book form, his contribution to promoting Sikkim’s beauty to the outside world over several years has been enormous – a testimony of his special fondness to the region.