Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spiritual Guard

Under the fading light of solar lamp, Chepang jhankri (shaman) was beating the dhyangro (drum) and uttering mantra. Sitting by the side of the fire and being surrounded by family members and onlookers, jhankri first muttered few words with slow beat of drum that gained the momentum gradually culminating in violent shaking of his body and again slowing down the pace.

Rhythmic sound of drum and the small bells, attached at the circular rim of drum, was so resounding that people from afar knew that jhankri was flexing his muscles against the evil spirits to drive them away from the house. Family offered him rice grains and money on the plate. He put the string of beads upon the plate. The family members were busy preparing the essentials: pieces of stone, wooden pegs and thread needed for the rituals.

People in the remote hills in Chitwan believe that malevolent spirits that dwell in house bring curse upon the family resulting in various calamities: illness to family members and domestic animals, scarcity of food and resources, and natural disasters. Jhankri performs series of rituals to banish evil spirits from house in the first place and seal the house completely in order to overcome the potential danger.

Dalchhi dhunga (flint that can produce a spark when it is hit against metal) was broken into pieces, small wooden pegs were prepared from the branches of paiya tree (Prunus cerasoides)and strands of kancho dhago (thread) were separated from its mass. Then jhakri, uttering mantra and beating drum, evoked spiritual power upon these objects. Pieces of stone were thrown inside the house to banish evil spirits.
The wooden pegs were nailed down on the ground around the house in anti-clockwise starting from main entrance. The pegs should be tied around by thread and a metal nail was fixed on the top of the peg. A cockerel was sacrificed and the blood was sprinkled upon the pegs. These pegs serve as guard against evil spirits that try to enter the house again. When these rituals were performed, it was already midnight.

Generally this practice of taking care of house is performed two times a year in the month of Chaitra (March-April) and Kartik (October-November). So once the ritual is done, it would be effective for half year. But some jhankris do the ritual once, generally in Chaitra (last month of Nepali year), to last for whole year.
General practice is agulto (fire) would not be handed over to others for a day from the house where ritual is performed previous night. Generally same jhankri is called upon by the client for the rituals and healing because of rivalry among them. Consequence would be nasty if one wields evil power upon other. But in case, other jhankri has to be summoned, he has to break the protective boundary set by former to inspect inside the house or family for the causes of the problem.

On the occasion, family asked jhankri to assess the present condition of each family member. Jhankri serves as intermediary between the human world and the spirit world mainly to treat illness by mending the soul. He found the daughter of the family being affected by dasha (effect of malicious spirit). Next morning, he performed the ritual by offering the nine kind of flowers to mend dasha. Then, the flowers with the fire on them was left on the trail.

1 comment:

  1. Rupen this is very interesting field-work and detailed description of the specific protective rites and practices of jhankris. Thank you for sharing this.