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The Shamans

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Chapter Summary

The Sikkimese shamans are the ritual specialists in charge of keeping good relations with the households? and the lineages? ancestral gods. This chapter first describes the selection and qualifications of a new pawo, his training and initiation and the minimal influence Buddhism has had over his practice. According to the available literature on spirit-mediums present among other Tibetan-speaking people, Buddhism has had a considerable influence on the practice of these ritual specialists. The chapter then discusses the question of communication with ancestors and compare shamanism as found in Tingchim with that of Mongolia and Siberia in an attempt to relate Sikkimese shamanism to North Asia. For a comparison with northern region, Mongolia seems appropriate for its relative cultural affinity with Sikkim and because neither the Sikkimese nor the Daur shamans have come under a strong Buddhist influence similar to that experienced by the Tibetan lhapa.

Keywords: Mongolian shamanism; pawo; shamans? ritual practice; Sikkimese shamans; Tibetan Buddhism; Tingchim



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