Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Bhutan: Pow (Shamanism)

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

My recent field reports on the Bhutan photo-expedition generated much interest as to our shaman (known as "pow" in Bhutan) photo shoot, and since it will take me quite a while to edit my photographs, here's one of the images while he pow performed his exorcism.

In Bhutan, traditional households will frequently call on the healing powers of a pow when a member of the family falls sick or is suspected of being inhabited by evil spirits. I was told that in this case a young boy had been taken to the local hospital because of his lack of appetite, but the doctors couldn't find anything wrong. His parents then decided to call on the traditional healer to rid him of what they perceived were evil spirits.

The event was held in the front room of the modest house, and most of the family's neighbors and friends attended the preparatory ritual, and the exorcism itself. The ritual involved trances, various implements (such as a drum and small leafy branch), along with incantations.