Dissertation Abstracts

Faith and Healing Practices among The Hindus: A Sociological Study in Paschim Medinipur

Author: Smita Chakraborty, smita.chakraborty44@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Jadavpur University, India
Supervisor: Prof. Ruby Sain
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Religion , Faith , Healing , Health
Areas of Research: Religion , Health , Hindus


Religion organises a collective spiritual experience that evolves into people’s faith, beliefs, and behaviours. Religion shelters people worldwide for many reasons. Religion is asked for miracles in times of suffering. Even physicians soothe a patient or their family in God’s name and tell them to pray for a miracle. Therefore, health is a major area/dimension where religion plays a key role in healing the patients. In a similar fashion, the process of healing is an intensely personal, subjective experience involving a reconciliation of the meaning an individual ascribes to distressing events with his or her perception of wholeness as a person. Modern medicine’s scientific approach claims legitimacy to heal. Science and medicine have enabled doctors to intervene in diseases, to cure, prevent, and eradicate them. As a result the physician’s job became “curer of illness” rather than “healer of the sick”. Faith arises from a believing experience. In the context of healing, this is having confidence in anything above natural rules to heal an individual’s illness(es). Faith in the supernatural, with an objective of healing has been a prominent feature in health-seeking behaviour. It is a notion whereby agents of healing, like priests, occult practitioners like ojhas, tantriks, sadhus and sanyasis could be successful only to the extent that the patient himself or herself remains morally, socially and physically responsible for his or her own well-being. This could be collectively construed under the ambit of faith healing. The current research thereby will try to highlight the different faith healing practices among the Hindus in Paschim Medinipur. The research location for the current study is the Jhargram District in Paschim Medinipur, where out of 8 Blocks, 4 Blocks (Lalgarh, Belphari, Jhargram, and Nayagram) have been selected by the researcher to conduct the survey. Each of these areas have residents who believe in the faith healing practices. Few practice those rituals in their own private spaces, whereas the others believe certain institutions to possess the power to heal them. Faith healing methods are still commonplace despite the growth of bio-medical practices in urban areas today. People believe that places of worship where people may congregate are where they can find spiritual solace and seek divine blessings from deities who are said to possess divine prowess and divine might. The adage that little traditions pave the way for larger ones in human civilisation has historical support. It may be possible to learn more about how these little traditions are giving way to larger ones in urban metropolitan life by studying the existing religious healing practices in Jhargram’s four Blocks. By following the mixed-method approach, the researcher tries to measure whether faith-based healing practices still play a dominant role in the lives of the people or not and to assess the social impact of this faith and healing practices in the current century.