RGU holds national seminar on Shamanism 

RONO HILLS, Sept 19: Expressing deep concern about challenges faced by shamans throughout their life across Arunachal Pradesh, state Indigenous Affairs director Sokhep Kri. said that the state Govt, particularly his department has been trying to safeguard the practice of shamanism and its related institutions.

In his inaugural address as chief guest to a two-day national seminar on ‘Shamanistic practices and narratives among tribes of Arunachal Pradesh’, organised by Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU)’s Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies (AITS) in collaboration with Research Institute of World’s Ancient Traditions, Cultures and Heritage (RIWATCH) and North Eastern Council (NEC), here on Monday, he also informed about establishment of ‘Gurukuls’ in some areas of the state with the aim to teach shamanistic chants, arts, crafts and indigenous language.

University of Delhi anthropology department’s Prof. Ram Prasad Mitra, in his keynote address, articulated his perception of the shamans and its practices. He stressed on how present time calls for revisiting and document indigenous knowledge.

Language, ritual, symbols and musical instruments have been the core pathways attached to shamans and their way of practicing shamanism, he said, adding that psychological and cognitive factors played an important mechanism in understanding shamanistic practices.

RIWATCH executive director Vijay Swami, while sharing his experience in documenting culture, said that the importance of the shaman in any society cannot be ignored. Shamans act as counsellor, healer, mediator of human and spiritual world and above all keeper of vast indigenous knowledge system, he said.

Social sciences, anthropology dean Prof. Sarit K Chaudhuri said that ‘the death of shamans is the death of human intellectual knowledge.’

AITS director Prof. Simon John stressed on how in academic context, researchers often face challenges and overcome through documentation process of shamanistic practices and the associated chanting. He highlighted AITS works in documentation and preservation of cultures and traditions of state’s various communities.

Seminar coordinator Dr. Tarun Mene earlier informed that the seminar aimed at enriching understanding of shamanistic traditions and documentation of time-tested living traditions.

Total 28 research papers representing various tribes and communities from across the country will be presented during the seminar, according to a RGU release.

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