Traditional Healing Practices and the Role of Traditional Health Care Practitioners among Kulung Rai community in Sikkim

Kulung is one of the clans under Rai community in Sikkim. Traditionally, among Kulung Rai, the concept of somodakha/tobburiri (health), tukkha (illness) and somori (disease) are completely directed by their belief in supernatural beings and have their own traditional system to deal with. Traditional healers have the most important role to play in Kulung Rai society as they are consider as equally important or sometimes more important than modern health care practitioners because the community believes that in case of any health issues, it is essential to consult traditional healers as sometimes it is e-sum-deo-chi (good spirits) or potomaer-chi (bad spirits), that make people suffer from numerous health issues, hence, worshiping or appeasing them or to ward off is crucial. This paper discusses the concept of health, illness and disease and the role of traditional healers among the Kulung Rai community in detail. Further, the paper analyzes how a traditional Kulung Rai community negotiates the modern medical health care facilities with the indigenous/traditional knowledge systems and practices particularly in Sikkim. The paper brings critical perspective on the overall health seeking behaviour of the Kulung Rai community in Sikkim.