Arunachal: National Seminar on Shamanism begins at RGU

The seminar is being organised by the AIT, RGU in collaboration with the RIWATCH and NEC, Shillong, Gov’t of India.

ITANAGAR-  A two-day national seminar on ‘Shamanistic Practices and Narratives Among the Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh’ begins today at Rajiv Gandhi University.

The seminar is being organised by the Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies (AITS), Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) in collaboration with the Research Institute of World’s Ancient Traditions, Cultures and Heritage (RIWATCH) and North Eastern Council (NEC), Shillong, Gov’t of India.

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In his inaugural address, Chief Guest of the program, Sokhep Kri, Director, Department of Indigenous Affairs, Government Of Arunachal Pradesh expressed deep concern about the  challenges faced by shamans throughout their life across the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

He informed that the state government particularly the Department of Indigenous Affairs is trying their best to safeguard the practice of shamanism and its related institutions. He further informed about establishment of the ‘Gurukuls’ in some areas of Arunachal which aims to teach shamanistic chants, arts, crafts and indigenous language.

Prof. Ram Prasad Mitra,  Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi in his keynote address positively articulated his perception of the shamans and its practices. He emphasized on how in contemporary times, we must start to revisit and reconstitute indigenous knowledge through documentation.

He added that language, ritual, symbols and musical instruments have been the core pathways attached to shamans and their way of practicing shamanism. He also added that psychological and cognitive factors played an important mechanism in understanding shamanistic practices.

Vijay Swami, Executive Director, RIWATCH while sharing his years of experience in documenting culture stated that the importance of the shaman in any society cannot be ignored. Shamans act as counsellor, healer, mediator of human and spiritual world and above all the keeper of vast indigenous knowledge system, he added.

Prof. Sarit K Chaudhuri, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Dept. of Anthropology, RGU while addressing the gathering stated that ‘the death of shamans is the death of human intellectual knowledge.’

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Prof. Simon John, Director, AITS, RGU emphasized on how in the context of academics,  researchers often face challenges and have to overcome through the documentation process of  shamanistic practices and the associated chanting of Arunachal Pradesh. He also highlighted about the work executed by the AITS with regards to documentation and preservation of cultures and traditions of various communities of Arunachal Pradesh.

Earlier, Dr. Tarun Mene, coordinator of the seminar while giving the welcome address highlighted about aims and objective of the seminar.  He informed that the main objective of the seminar is to enrich the understanding of shamanistic traditions and documentation of time-tested living traditions.

Altogether 28 numbers of research papers representing various tribes and communities from across the country will be presented during the seminar.


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