Sunday, August 14, 2016

Superstitions- Being possessed by diety

Being possessed by some deity, devi (goddess), evil or God is one of very common superstition. Once I was very rampant all over the world, many women got killed because people suspected them of being a witch, this belief is still present in some parts of rural India (as well as in some parts of cities also), Andhashradha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANS) defines this act as follows,
 "Being possessed by a ‘Deity’ ‘Devi or ‘Dev Angat Yene’ (in Marathi): During this condition, the individual completely transforms his or her expression and behavior (personality) to resemble some abnormal individual or a deity. The person is then supposed (pretends) to be possessed by a deity during that period he behaves in a convincing manner making appropriate actions and sounds to appear as if he is in a trance and pretends to know answers to all questions posed to him or her by gullible devotees."

As I mentioned before, it will be very wrong to assume that this superstition was only present in parts of India, but I personally witnessed it only in India that's why my views and opinions are exclusively based on these incidents. I used to see some women behaving in a very weird way on some days of the year, those days used to be some special days as per Hindu calendar and it was believed that some goddess used to possess these women, transforming them into some sort of proxy of those entities. Many people used to visit their home with lots of queries and grievances. These people used to ask questions and this possessed woman used to provide answers. These questions used to cover a variety of topics, personal as well as social: will my son get a particular job, when will my daughter get married, will there be enough rain this year to get a good crop, my daughter in law will give birth to a baby boy or a girl? People use to ask anything and this possessed person used to give very brief answers. This question-answer process was very interesting and entertaining for me. I am sure no one bothered to check the accuracy of these answers, but they came every year to ask these questions. I have no idea how this superstition started, but I saw it in UP as well as Maharashtra (the two states where I lived in India).

My own grandmother also used to get possessed by some deity once a year. I mostly saw women being possessed by some deity, I am sure there were men also who suffered from this problem, but at least I didn't witness any such incident. As a kid, it was really scary for me in the beginning as these women, when possessed, really used to behave in a very strange manner, but slowly I realized that they are not going to harm me and I became more curious about these incidents. When I started doing some research about this I realized that this is a type of psychological problem. This problem can be cured with proper counseling and medical treatment, but hardly these people get any medical attention to manage this issue. The victims (like my grandma) and people around them all believed so much in divine nature of this incident that they refused to accept that this is a medical issue. The victim used to get so much attention and importance that they also didn't feel that there is any problem and they should seek some medical advice to address it. After knowing all this I really started feeling very bad for all these people (including my grandma). I also realized that many people used to do these things knowingly or unknowingly to seek that extra attention and respect which they never used to get during their normal life. I think this is why I saw mainly women suffering with this problem as their status in the family or in society hardly gave them any authority, but this phenomenon used to give them a chance to be a dictatorial authority at least for a day every year. I am glad to see that now these incidents have reduced significantly, there are still some isolated incidents but largely this practice is gone for good. I hope that if anyone finds someone in their family or friend circle suffering with this problem they seek proper medical help to address this issue as this is a curable condition. Superstitions should be challenged and eliminated not respected and preserved as a part of culture.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. http://antisuperstition.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=145

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