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In Bizarre Treatment Ritual, Tribal Sorcerer in Odisha Bites Woman All Over Her Body to ‘Cure’ Fever

On Tuesday, a video clip showing the tribal sorcerer’s curious treatment method, and his confident claim of successful treatment of a medical condition, caused consternation among many in Odisha.

Anand ST Das | News18

Updated:August 13, 2019, 11:55 PM IST
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In Bizarre Treatment Ritual, Tribal Sorcerer in Odisha Bites Woman All Over Her Body to ‘Cure’ Fever
A screenshot of the incident.
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Bhubaneswar: When Dule Beti, a tribal woman in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, caught a fever that refused to subside even after three days, she visited the local sorcerer. She subjected herself to his bizarre “treatment ritual”, which involved the man biting her all over her body.

It did not surprise the 55-year-old, let alone bring her any sense of shock, that the sorcerer put his mouth to her back, neck, chest, belly and shoulders as part of the treatment. For thousands of villagers of the Koya primitive tribe in Malkangiri district, such strange rituals comprise medical treatment as access to modern healthcare continues to elude them.

On Tuesday, a video clip showing the sorcerer’s curious treatment method, and his confident claim of successful treatment of a medical condition, caused consternation among many in the state.

Dule Beti, a resident of Urmaguda village in tribal-dominant Malkangiri’s Kalimela block, was seen sitting on the mud floor of a hut with her legs stretched out. The sorcerer, holding a bundle of peacock feathers and some rice, practiced what he calls an age-old technique of healing. Another woman held Beti's head as the sorcerer bit her all over her body.

“Three sessions (of this ritual) will certainly cure any patient of fever,” said Kasa Beti, a semi-literate man who has been a practitioner of this arcane discipline of tribal healing system for decades. The local tribal people respectfully call him the “desia doctor” (village doctor) or “desia gunia” (village witch doctor).

Dule Beti’s husband Deba Beti, a poor farmer, said visits to the sorcerer brought her much-needed relief from fever. “My wife felt better. There was no way I could have taken her to a hospital in Kalimela. We here have no money. Doctors do not visit this area. The roads are also not good,” he said.

“Such rituals practised by sorcerers have no medical value. The government should act tough to end such practices, which are driven by people’s ignorance. Poor tribals living in remote areas should be provided reliable medical services,” said Pratap Rath, a rationalist.

Malkangiri district in southern Odisha suffers from a Maoist insurgency due to which most villages inhabited by tribals have no all-weather roads.

The Koya tribe is found in Kalimela, Motu, Podiya, Malkangiri, Korkonda and Mathili blocks of the district. People of this tribe also live in large numbers in Sukma and Bastar districts of neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Their language borrows many words from Telugu.

(With inputs from Mahendra Panigrahi)

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| Edited by: Karan Anand
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