When you suffer a dislocated joint, you panic and rush to the hospital. In Bumthang, it’s a different story. People go and see Rinchen Pelden, a 54-year-old traditional healer who has become a popular go-to person when suffering a dislocated joint. Rinchen claims she’s treated thousands of patients and a dozen cattle, all for free.
Rinchen who’s from Chhumey lives with her family in Dekiling. Almost every other day, she gets visitors from all across Bumthang seeking her help.
She’s been in the business for almost 30 years now and learnt the craft on her own.
“I started it by treating my family members. Then I helped a few of my friends and then the word spread about me. Nobody taught me how to do it nor have I seen anyone doing it. I have treated tourists here at home as well as in guesthouses. I feel I’m destined to do this, so I try my best to help everyone,” said Rinchen.
Today, a young man whose right hand has been dislocated around the elbow comes to see her. Rinchen only uses a pinch of salt mixed with butter to apply on the joint. She says that is to heat the nerves so that the patient doesn’t get hurt too much while fixing it.
She rubs it for a while, reassuring the patient is fine before the actual treatment begins. On comes her school-going daughter who always gives Rinchen a helping hand. She climbs on the patient’s hand to put pressure to help put the joint back in place. The man felt relieved soon afterwards.
“Officials from the Health Ministry asked the hospital staff to observe my procedures and they came to my home. They concluded that I don’t use anything unhealthy nor is my procedure risky.”
Doctors recommend visiting hospitals during a fracture or when suffering a broken bone. However, they think the role played by lay practitioners like Rinchen is equally important, especially for non-invasive procedures like the one practised by Rinchen which don’t require surgeries.
Appropriately, Rinchen only sticks to fixing dislocated body parts. And she says she will continue to do it for the rest of her life.
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