Traditional Healers in Dolakha [district of Dolakha, Janakpur Zone, in north-east Nepal]









Jhankri-s & Kalin~cok Jatra



Nari-s & Jhankri-s during Devi-kot Jatra



Jhankri-s & Nari-s before Devi-kot Jatra



Jhankri-s & Deo-lan Jatra



Jhankri-s & the Jatra of life


p. 4, n. 1:3 "Dolakha is the home of the Thami".

p. 12 accoutrements of the jhankri

jama (pleated white skirt {kilt})

mala (necklace, of rudraks.a – dark-red Elaeocarpus seeds)

damphe (monal pheasant, attached to back of necklace)

pp. 18-20 younger sisters of goddess Kalin~cok Mai


younger sister

her sacred praecinct



"fortress-like temple"


Bal Kumari

"walled shrine" in grove


Bajra Jogini {Vajra-Yogini}

shrine in meadow


Mahankal (Maha-Kali)

shrine beside spring-fed pond


Kamala Mai

"oblong-shaped" "black stone" against simal (cottontree, Bombax malabaricum)


Sunarati (Sundarawati)

"at the head of a waterfall"

p. 49, n. 2:20 spirit-possession [quoted from O&DT, pp. 425-6]

"a peculiar group of Tibetan mediums are

the male ‘Pawo’ (dpa> bo) and

the female ‘Nyenjomo’ (bsnyen jo mo),

to be found mainly in the Chumbi Valley, in Sikkim, and in Bhutan. ...

The dpa> bo and bsnyen jo mo ... become possessed by the spirits of the dead, and ... are able to communicate, while in the trance, with their own protective deities. Their main task is to perform divinations and to cure illnesses. ...

[bon khrus gsol (initiation) :] "The novice ... invokes all the bon skyong requesting them to descend upon the bumpa. After a while the vessel is supposed to start shaking, the indication that the multitude of the bon skyong has arrived."

O&DT = Nebesky-Wojkowitz : Oracles and Demons of Tibet.

pp. 79, 83 holy trembling by nari




"The Goddess moves (sarnu) into the man of her choice ... . ... In the case of the Thami nari her moving is recognized by the state of trembling it produces in the chosen one. She mounts his back, she grabs his head."


"The nari ... is a trembling ecstatic who remembers nothing of what happens when the Goddess mounts him ... . ... A jhankri trains him and a priest uses him."

p. 89 the 3 implements of 3-form god Vis`va-karman in cave-shrine

t.okari (wicker basket), containing :

nyan~curi (knife),

nyankarati (sickle),

nyammesa (iron-handled khukuri)

pp. 106-107, 142 legends of the shrine of Maha-deva compared with myth of sacred tail of cow-goddess Kama-dhenu




Taman legend : "Once there was a cow ... who ... climbed up the steep hillside ... . Here she left her footprints in the rock. Another rock was blocking the way going north but it opened for the cow long enough to let her pass through. ... Next day the cow returned to Mahadev in the same way as before but this time men followed her, holding on to her tail. Now, however, the rock remained open."

142, n. 5:4

[quoted from HN, p. 82 :] "Maheswara, in the shape of a deer, disclosed himself in the form of light. ... Brahma went upwards to see how far the light extended ... . ... On comparing notes, ... Brahma declared that he had gone beyond it. Vishnu then called for witnesses, and Brahma produced Kamdhenu (the celestial cow), who ... corroborated Brahma’s assertion with her mouth, whilst she shook her tail by way of denying it. Vishnu then, ... uttered a curse ... on Kamdhenu, that her mouth should be impure, but her tail sacred."

" " "

"Mention of the tail here and in the legend of Deolang (where men passed through the rock by holding on to the cow’s tail) recalls too the Hindu belief that the dead have to pass through the river Vaitaran.i to reach the kingdom of Yama and that therefore [quoted from FN, p. 99 :] "most bereaved families pray that a sacred cow may guide and protect the spirit of their dead along this dangerous journey by allowing it to cling to her tail.""


Chetri legend : "the dangur ..., at midnight, ... had a dream .. . ... Then he heard the sound of tris`uls shaking and bells ringing. The cow was making these sounds ... . ... When the dangur saw this, Mahadev mounted on his back ... and he began to shake."

HN = Daniel Wright : History of Nepal. Kathmandu, 1972.

FN = Mary Anderson : Festivals of Nepal. Calcutta, 1975.

p. 141, n. 5:3 dhami & d.angre

Chetri : "dhami is ... a man who is possessed by the lineage deity (kul deuta) ... while in a trance during the dewali puja (worship of the kul deuta). In far western Nepal the word dhami designates an oracle who is attached to a shrine and who [quoted from "PRGM", p. 225] "goes into a trance at certain times and the worshippers may directly question the god who speaks through his mouth."

"the word d.angre refers to a person who acts as a medium for a ghost (bayu) {vayu} when a jhankri performs the ... ceremony to rid a household of the restless spirit of a family member who died an unnatural death."

"PRGM" = Marc Gaborieau : "Preliminary Report on the God Mas.t.a". In :- Hitchcock & Jones (ed.s) : Spirit Possession in the Nepal Himalayas. New Delhi, 1976.

pp. 150, 152 bir masan; various caerimonies performed by jhankri




"spirits called bir masan who inhabit cremation grounds (masan)" : "if a man of set purpose makes regular food offerings to a bir masan ..., he will be blessed during his lifetime with the wealth he desires."


caerimonies performed by the jhankri :

"healing ceremonies (cinta) for the sick as well as

house blessings (gharko cinta) which keep evil influences away from a dwelling and can be done periodically ..., and

bayu utarnu, a rite for pacifying family members who have died an unnatural death and are bringing about troubles in the household by their continued and unnatural presence there."

pp. 154, 156-158, 177 phantoms : ban-jhankri & kicakanni




Taman account : "described ban-jhankris as creatures that look like men but are smaller in size, with hair that is long and loose. ... their feet are turned inwards."

177, n. 6:8

"A beautiful female phantom called kicakanni {cf. /KICAKA/, the name of an anti-hero in the Maha-Bharata} that seduces ... men is characterized by this same peculiar feature of having her feet backwards. She is usually careful to keep her feet covered with her skirts lest she be recognized."


Kami account : "Even now, ... ban-jhankris take children to their caves in the mountains and train them to be jhankris. ... There is no danger for such a kidnapped boy from the ban-jhankri, but he must protect his little disciple from his wife, the ban-jhankrini, who would otherwise eat the child. ... ... the ban-jhankri has very long hair which spreads all around him when he sits and which covers his furry face. His feet are turned inside. In all other [Taman, Thami, etc.] accounts the ban-jhankri is invariably described as being quite small but [this Kami account] says he is very tall, taller than a man".


Thami account : "ban-jhankris kidnap children and keep them for seven or fifteen days before releasing them ... . ... He was abducted by a ban-jhankri to a cave in the Gangrin jungle ... . He fell unconscious as he was being carried off but not before he had a clear look at the ban-jhankri ... a small creature, only three feet tall, that looked like a man with a red face and long,


loose hair. ... a ban-jhankri must keep the children he kidnaps out of the sight of his wife, the ban-jhankrini, lest she eat them."

Casper J. Miller : Faith-Healers in the Himalayas : ... Traditional Healers and their Festivals in Dolakha District of Nepal. Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu.