This book is basically an exploratory study of the traditional tribal medicinal practices which are prevalent among the autochthonous tribal population of Sikkim: the Bhutias and Lepchas who constitute about 24 per cent of the population of the State. Lepchas and Bhutias, the indigenous peoples of Sikkim, have from time immemorial adapted themselves to the vagaries of nature by evolving intricate social and cultural mechanisms. Their medicinal practices too were woven within these mechanisms. Contrary to the common notion of superstition and faith healing, the system by and large had a scientific basis. The system also traverses along political-economic dynamics of ethnicity and no wonder that with the rise of ethnic fervour a revival and reinforcement of traditional medicinal practices are to be witnessed in Sikkim. This study encaptures some of the vital issues of this subtle social dynamics. Specifically, the book studies the concept of disease and sickness, the different methods of treatment, the official health policies over the years. It also documents the different governmental and non-governmental facilities as well as the recent changes in the health practices of the people.
Dr. J.J. Roy Burman (b. 1955) is primarily an anthropologist having done his post-graduation from North Bengal University in Sociology & Social Anthropology. Immediately after obtaining the degree he worked on the impact of counter-insurgency among the Mizos in Mizoram as a fellow of Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh. After living there in a village for about one year he joined Help Age India as Project Adviser for East and North-East India. After almost eight years of his direct contact with social work and social engineering, he joined Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, as a member of the Faculty. Apart from teaching Anthropology, Roy Burman also carries out research mainly on the problems in rural areas. Forests, environmet, mass religion having been his main areas of interest. He is the first person in India to have done Ph.D. on Sacred Groves from the sociological perspective. Few anthropologists have had the opportunity to travel in the tribal and forest areas all over the country like him. Right noow it has become his passion to portray the inter-ethnic harmonious relations in the country.
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