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August 2021

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1987 Dec; 11(4): 417-35.

Healing spirits of South Kanara.

Shields NK.

In South Kanara, India (formerly the kingdom of Tulunadu), and area stretching some 150 miles along the Arabian Sea and 25 to 50 miles inland, ancient forms of rural pageantry in honor of particular local Spirits are enacted yearly. These ritualized performances include elements of masked folk drama and epic recitation and serve a valued social role as a form of healing and counselling within village communities. Contemporary practitioner-patient interactions are part of an intricate tapestry partaking of customs occurring since times long past, such as the kinship structure (aliya-santana or nephew inheritance), the geopolitical milieu and the myths of Tulunadu. The power of these healing Spirits lies in their ability to reproduce social form through the cultural idiom of therapeutic efficacy.


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