Exorcising The Ghosts of Blind Faith

The Valmiki Community of Ludhiana is being tricked into superstition.

About The Video: The Valmiki Dalit Community of Ludhiana, Punjab is fervent in its belief that the spirits of the 5 saints, collectively known as 'Paanch Bavari' are guardians of their body and soul. Community Correspondent Jai Kumar, a Dalit himself, maintains that while culture is important for asserting the identity of the community, he worries that the ‘belief’ is being misused and abused and people are being led into the dark alleys of blind faith and superstition.

Fever and bodily ailments are being termed by quacks and the priests as ghostly possessions. The sufferers are subjected to physical and mental abuse in the name of ‘exorcism’. Amidst burning pyres, chants, animal sacrifices, offerings of sweets and liquor, the patients are literally whipped into frenzy until they are held in a trance where they begin to whip themselves with steel chains like mad dervishes before the idols of the saints.

Community Correspondent Jai Kumar says that what is shocking to him is the number of youths who are showing interest in these rituals. “I request the parents that they not force their own children into these beliefs. Dalits need enlightenment and critical thinking for their emancipation, not prostrating and flailing themselves in front of stone idols. Dalits themselves are the custodians and guardians of their community and their bodies and identities. It is not the responsibility of a bunch of long dead saints.”

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