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A Study of Perceptions and Experiences of Pilgrims Approaching Spiritual Masters in a Religious Mass Gathering “Sinhastha” in Ujjain, MP, India to Explore Relationship of Spirituality and Health

Author:Kirti Deshpande, Rajesh Deshpande, Dattatray N Paliwal

Keywords:Religion, Spirituality, Spiritual masters, mass gathering, Health problems

Type:Original Article

Abstract:Introduction: Spirituality and health have been integral parts of all the religions. Religious and Spiritual (R/S) beliefs, influence lifestyle, attitudes and feelings about life, pain and death. The study conducted to study perceptions and experiences of pilgrims seeking health care from spiritual masters in “sinhastha”. Methodology: Pilgrims approaching spiritual masters (SM) to seek health care were interviewed using structured questionnaire. Results: Almost all perform religious/spiritual (R/S) activities like prayers and rituals during illness. Health care was sought more for physical than mental health problems. Along with R/S remedies majority pilgrims were taking medical treatment simultaneously. The interventions suggested by SM were drugs, prayers, meditation, rituals, fasting, charity work and magical items. The perceived benefits of approaching SM were affection, tolerance, solutions for their problems and feeling close to god. Very few perceive harm from SM. Conclusion: R/S beliefs and practices are important for people with regard to their health. Health professionals need to incorporate R/S background of patients while planning management of health problems as R/S beliefs and practices may be helpful or harmful or may interfere with treatment.