‘Blessing in Disguise’: A Case Study of Spirit Possession among the Meiteis of Manipur

Spirit possession cases are distinct human behaviours and experiences which are associated with the belief that an individual has been taken over by a spirit or deity or other supernatural entities. Diverse cultures and religious systems have their belief and corresponding rituals to deal with these cases. The present paper deals with a particular form of possession among the Meitei people of Manipur, a north-eastern state of India. It tries to highlight how traditional medicine, coupled with indigenous religion, provides a more acceptable and effective treatment mechanism to those cases in the cultural context of the Meitei people. Primary data for this study are collected through observation, interviews, and also with case-studies from one of the villages in Thoubal district of Manipur during the period from 2017 to 2018. The possessed individual becomes a connecting link between the deities, spirits, and mankind. This condition is generally perceived, understood, and dealt with from a religio-cultural perspective rather than from a biomedical one. The need to minimize the gap between cultural understanding and the biomedical perspective while dealing with those cases is also highlighted in this study.