Thursday, 10 November 2016

The horror of Tribal branding of infants _ India

 In India, there are countless tribes, following different cultures and ritualistic traditions and it will be a futile exercise for the government  to keep track of them. In many  tribal cultures,  superstition is the core and the beliefs associated with it are deep-rooted. Such tribal communities live in remote areas, where it is impossible for the government officials and doctors  to access them and reform them.   In certain tribal communities  Disharis and Jaanis, a sort of quake doctors or traditional healers are part of every aspect of tribal social life.  Family events involving rituals such as  blessing pregnant women and naming the newborn, funeral rites after death, etc are taking place under their direction. In the matter of separation or dispute between couples, wedding dates and timing, and building of houses, etc.,  the entire community members depend on the disharis and jaanis.  
a branded Indian kid. indianexpress.com
The more  shocking news is they don the role of medical doctors  and  prescribe medicines made from  herb and roots for diseases  such as  common colds to jaundice and chicken pox without proper training in Ayurvedic medicine which is quite popular here and safe. Yet another role played by them is the act of  exorcising ghosts. They are said to drive the ghost by  burning incense and resins in a ritualistic way. It is said, they are experts in the art of removing spells on individuals or families. The list goes on. 
Among all family related ceremonies, the unpalatable one is the traditional  ritualistic protection  of  infants by  branding, using  hot iron or bangle and this zany  (primitive) practice has been around  for a century or more. Mainly in the month of  Chaitra Amavasya (July/August), infant branding is done and for the dishari it will be a busiest month. People  in large number with their babies wait before the dishari' house  to get their infant branded by hot iron nails and forks. It does not matter if the kids experience excruciating pain.
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For the tribes, branding their tribes is a must and an ritualistic event, it is a sort of buying insurance for  the diseases. It is believed branding gives the baby necessary immunity against various ailments. Further, it also gets rid of evil spirit that may befall the child. It’s like vaccination for them. 
Jharkhand tribals brand infants with hot iron rods as part of festivities.
India TV
The crux of this superstition is some branded babies survive the burn infection, many don’t and such deaths are looked upon as the edit of God and they don't blame the dilhari, who is purported to be the agent of God. Dilharis do not charge the people for his expert services. The government authorities are taking serious steps to stop this primitive practice, but the tribes hesitate to change their cultural mores - a road block towards their progress.

At Sheopur, in Madhya Pradesh, central India, Mrs. Seheriya and her husband Giru, 23, took their small kid Shivani to the healer on December 2nd to treat her pneumonia. The local healer, without second thoughts,  burnt the child's abdomen with the hot knife over 40 times, to cure the baby, just  two-month-old . Same night, the baby girl developed fever and was taken to the near-by hospital. The doctors carefully treated the baby for burns and, on further examination, found she had holes in her heart. The doctors found that the  baby had defective ventricular septa. 
 
Tit-bits:
01. The so called  traditional healers have a grip on the tribal community that imbibe superstitious belief - the evil, the government and social organizations are fighting.  

 02. Towards the end of 2015, in Nabaranpur, Orissa at least seven infants were hospitalized. Reason: they were given a dose of local traditional healer's home-remedies including branding by hot iron nails or glass bangles

03. Babies as old as 8 month undergo this painful ritual - branding with hot iron or nail, the net result is the wounds become septic. 

04. The root cause of the problem in the tribal belt is literacy rate is low, complicated by inadequate  government medical care. there is one doctor for every 20,500 plus people. So,  disharis, jaanis and gurumayees are present in large numbers and exploit the gullible tribes.

05. To the tribes, their age old traditional and cultural mores are more important, though, now, they have begun to send their pregnant women to far off government hospitals, they are reluctant to snap their ties with their old customs and mores.
07. Some tribes use juice from the seed of the wild cashew apple, hoping it would cure  pneumonia and asthma.

Ref:
http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/district-zero-in-branding-of-babies-a-battle-between-tradition-and-modernity/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2866936/Newborn-baby-scalded-40-times-hot-knife-Indian-tantric-healer-claimed-cure-pneumonia.html