INDIAN CULTURE 7
Indiais a country that enjoys cultural diversity. As such, understandingIndia’s cultural orientation offers vital insights on how workingenvironments, which are culturally sensitive, can be accommodative toIndian culture (Nichter & Nichter, 1996). Based on this, theessay under review explores various aspects of Indian culture interms of illness, treatment, and wellness. Traditional practices thatdeveloped from ancient cultures in India have significantlyinfluenced the way ordinary folk perceive and believe about lifeprocesses, health and wellbeing, the causes of illness, and the roleof traditional healers. Cultural beliefs shape various aspects onillness, wellbeing, and wellness. These practices emanate from Indiantraditional beliefs and religious doctrines that influence thegeneral social life of Indian communities.
Culturalaspects of Health and Illness
Indiais a country with diverse cultures, religions, languages, andethnicities. Hence, various cultural cues in the society influencepeople’s perceptions of causes of illnesses, management, and theadministration of treatment and therapy procedures. Culturalinfluences cause most challenges that healthcare practitioners facewhen dealing with commonly presenting illnesses. The dominant culturein India is Hindu. The religion shapes Indian psychologicalapproaches to illness significantly. Some of the practices in thecommunity, which influence the communities approach to illness, aretraditional religious scriptures such as Vedas, Yoga, Sutras, andBhagavadGit(Kurtz, 1992).InIndia, it is believed that an individual‘s personality has threemajor qualities which are: Sattva(clarityof things), rajas(passionor desire), and tamas(dullnessand darkness). The society believes that the absence of any of thethree qualities causes illness. In addition, supernatural forcesoften affect one, two, or all of three qualities to cause illness.Traditional healers therefore invoke these beliefs to source the besttraditional medicine and therapies. Despite the adaptation of modernmedicine that serves as an alternative to traditional medicine, manyIndians are still sensitive to cultural cues that guide treatmentprocedures and therapies.
TheCultural aspects of Well-Being
Thetraditional aspects of well-being in Indian culture have developedover the years. Sees and sages were used in the past and continue tobe the main custodians of interpreting Indian culture when observinga person’s wellbeing. Traditionally, the principles of BrahmanorshuddhaChaitanyameasure an individual’s well-being. According to Hindu religion,faithful believe that ShuddhaChaitanya topervades all aspects of a human being, including their well-being.Indians believe that shuddhachaitanya ismanifested in three main signs: satyam(existence),jnanam(one’sconsciousness), and anantam(the state of infinity) (Helman, 2007). Both signs embody theexperience and consciousness of one’s existence. Well-being inIndian culture occurs throughout the life of a person rather than asingle event. A balance between the three signs therefore definesone’s well-being and correctional measures, which involve theinvocation of cultural values embodied in shuddhachaitanya.Indians believe the balance between the three signs of shuddhachaitanya (usuallyreferred to as the Sankhya)determines an individual’s wellbeing. Sankhyaisan Indian philosophy, which posits that the balance of three livesremains within the individual that maintains the ideal level ofwell-being.
CulturalBeliefs about the Causes of Illness
Intraditional Indian culture, the people believe that supernaturalinterventions from special powers cause illness (Eshun, 2009). Thesupernatural being, which intervenes in an individual’s life, mightbe a dead ancestor or a deity. For instance, one of the many godsworshipped in India’s traditional religions may evoke supernaturalpowers. Another supernatural intervention that can cause illness iswitchcraft or sorcery both of which society believe come from peoplewith special powers. Some Indian communities also believe that evilforces may cause illness to an individual in retaliation to theirimmoral behavior, spiritual failings, and breaching a taboo.Moreover, Indians accept that illness is a product of bad karma orbad luck (Eshun & Gurung, 2008). Cultural beliefs about illnessin Indian culture have been the traditional reason for the extensiveuse of symbolism as a way to treat illness in rural areas.
TheRole of Traditional Healers
Traditionalhealers still play a very important role in India, especially intreating mental illnesses. India is among the countries that havehigh prevalent rates of cases of mental illness (Kapur, 1979).Traditional healers in rural areas continue to be very influential increating cultural therapies meant to heal mental illness. Today, teagardens provide benefits for free allopathic treatment carried out bytraditional healers (Muthu et al., 2006). The type of treatmentpreferred by an individual depends on the type of disease. Most ruralpopulations depend on traditional healers to treat conditions such asinfertility, worry, sleeplessness, any kind of pain, bone dislocationor fracture, impotency, and other psychological conditions.
WhyHealthcare Practitioners should understand the Cultural Background ofthe Patient
Currently,demographic changes in the country affect the healthcare sectorwhereby people from different cultures can travel anywhere to seekmedical care (LaFromboise et al., 1993). Thus, cultural diversity hasbecome a priority in healthcare settings. One way that healthcarepractitioners contribute to the development of healthcare settings,which appreciate cultural diversity, is by improve their culturalcompetence. Cultural competence entails providing health careservices in manners that appreciates the cultural beliefs andperceptions of the patient (Campinha-Bacote, 2003). For example,practitioners must learn the attitudes, behaviors, and polices thatare congruent enough to enable them work in cross-cultural healthcaresituations. A culturally competent practitioner will know the basiccultural aspects of a patient from India. Well-trained practitionerscan use their knowledge of the cultural sensitivities of traditionalIndia to align their treatment plan with the needs of the patient.The three major ways that healthcare practitioners can improve theircultural competence are exposure to cultural awareness, learningcultural skills, obtaining cultural knowledge, and becoming exposedto a wide range of cultural encounters.
Indiais a cultural country and most of its culture is a product of themajor religions that are present in the community. The essaydiscusses that traditional beliefs on wellness, causes of illness,and the wellbeing of individuals share cultural roots from religionand ancient cultures of Indian tribes. Traditional healers play avery important role in treating illnesses especially those fromcultural forces. Most illnesses treated by traditional healers arecaused by personalistic and naturalistic factors such as deities, badkarma, and evil spirits. Therefore, it is vital for healthcarepractitioners to understand India’s culture concerning illness,wellness, and wellbeing in order to enhance their culturalcompetence.
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