Even as India is getting digitised, locals in the tribal-dominated Betul district of Madhya Pradesh are counting on tantrics for treatment of snakebite and various ailments.
On Thursday, a 13-year-old boy, a resident of Bishaldehi village in the district, who was bitten by a snake, was taken to a tantric.
The boy Gautam, son of Paresh Uikey, was kept at the house of the tantric for two hours, and when his condition deteriorated he was rushed to a community health centre (CHC) at Ghodadongri village.
Paresh told Hindustan Times that after giving first aid, CHC sent his son to the district hospital where he died.
Sources in the district hospital said if the boy were brought to the hospital instead of being taken to a tantric, he might not have lost his life.
A resident told HT, “On the occasion of naag-panchami when snake is worshipped, a tantric at Mandvi village treats snakebite cases and teaches the villagers how to treat it with a mantra which the villagers believe takes away poison from the body.”
“Also, a tantric makes children lie down on cow dung to drive any disease,” he said.
On June 11, more than 200 people suffering from diarrhoea put hot iron rods on their bodies believing that it would cure them. A report was published in HT.
In January ever year, a large number of people flock to Malajpur village of the district where a fete of ghosts ‘Bhooton ka Mela’ is organised for treating various ailments.
Shailendra Shilar, a villager, told HT, “People go to tantric for treatment of snakebite, pregnancy-related ailments and irregular menstruation. The health facilities leave much to be desired.”
Collector of Betul, Gyaneshwar Patil said, “There is a thin line between faith and superstition, and we are trying to make people aware of it. People from Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and many other states, too, come to ‘Bhooton Ka Mela’ for treating mental illness. Educating as many people as possible is my priority. We have 20 primary health centres, but many do not have doctors. Though CHCs have anti-venom injections, multi-venom treatments are not possible there. So, we’re trying to improve health facilities.”
Psychologist Vinay Mishra told HT, “The reason for people resorting to superstitions lies in our culture, and values are ingrained so much in us that we fail to look beyond it. Religious references suggest that superstitions do lead to miracles, so rather than depending on medical therapy, people opt for such practices. I believe that education also matters, and there are people who cannot afford medical treatment. The history of a place as well as mouth publicity plays a major role behind such beliefs.”