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  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view drgonzo's profile
    Posted March 7, 2011 by
    drgonzo
    Location
    Balaji, India
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Uniquely India

    More from drgonzo

    Casting out demons

     

    One of the most interesting and popular centers of tantric rites is at Balaji, near Bharatpur off the Jaipur-Agra highway. Exorcism is a way of life at Balaji, and people from far and near, who have been "possessed by spirits" flock to Balaji in large numbers. It requires nerves of steel to watch some of the exorcism rituals that are practiced here. Often the wails and screams can be heard for miles around. Sometimes 'patients' have to stay on for days on end to be exorcised.

    In India, there are 5.2 physicians per 10 000 inhabitants. Obtaining mental health care is even more difficult. At Balaji, healing and exorcism is performed by a number of methods, ranging from a strict diet over chanting Tantric hymns to - allegedly - keeping the possessed in shackles. The methods applied by the Balaji temple might appear medieval but it's the only treatment many  people receive. The priests also take care to tell people with identifiable sicknesses from those in need of spiritual exercise. To this end, the non-profit foundation running the temple also maintains a well-equipped hospital, including a veterinary section - a rare act of compassion towards animals in India.

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