Understanding Traditional Healing Practices in Sri Lanka.

Traditional healing practices have been an integral part of the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka for generations. From the use of herbal remedies to the practices of “Kattadiyas“, traditional healing has played a significant role in the health and well-being of communities throughout Sri Lanka. However, these practices have also been the subject of debate and controversy, with some advocating for their continued use and others raising concerns about their effectiveness and safety. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and disadvantages of traditional healing practices in Sri Lanka and provide a nuanced understanding of this important cultural tradition.


Benefits of Traditional Healing Practices:


Traditional healing practices, such as those associated with “Kattadiyas“, have several benefits, including cultural significance, access to care, and personal attention. For many people in Sri Lanka, traditional healing practices are a part of their cultural heritage and have a deep spiritual and emotional significance. I have seen that even the educated public defends these practices highlighting their cultural significance. In some rural or remote areas of the country, traditional healing practices may be the only option available for access to healthcare. Finally, traditional healing practices often involve a one-on-one relationship between the practitioners and the patient, which can provide a sense of empathy and personal attention that is not always available in modern medical facilities.


Disadvantages of Traditional Healing Practices.


While traditional healing practices have some benefits, they also have several disadvantages, including a lack of scientific evidence, a limited scope of treatment, and limited patient rights. Traditional healing practices are not scientifically proven and may not be safe or effective, and some traditional healing practices can even be harmful. In addition, traditional healing practices may be limited in their scope of treatment and may not be able to treat more severe or complex medical conditions effectively. Finally, traditional healing practices may not have the same patient rights, and protections as modern medical facilities and patients may be at risk of exploitation or abuse.

If you see the above video, you can relate it to what we have trying to describe above.

Balancing Cultural Significance and Evidence-Based Care


The debate around traditional healing practices in Sri Lanka can be complex and nuanced, and there are many different perspectives and opinions on the issue. On the one hand, traditional healing practices have a significant cultural significance for many people and may provide access to care and personal attention in some areas where modern medical facilities are unavailable. On the other hand, traditional healing practices are not scientifically proven, may not be safe or effective, and may not have the same patient rights and protection as modern medical facilities.


Educating the Public


Many mass media institutions (Television and National News Papers) promote these healers. Most of the time, we can see that they are given the title of Doctor though these do not have basic education about the human body and diseases. These healers’ advertisements are one way they get easy money to run their media.


Now there are many YouTubers who are promoting these practices of “Kattadiyas“. During Corona pandemic, many traditional healers appeared in the mainstream media and on youtube promoting their bogus treatments. “Dammika Paniya” from a mason in the Kegalle area was given wild publicity by one of the television channels. Equally, many YouTubers and social media activists promoted this man’s miracle syrup which did not have any scientific basis.

The above video in Sinhala News shows how the public gathered despite the travel restriction to collect Dammika Paniya.

One such person who got immense publicity during the covid pandemic is Wickramaarachchi Weda Mahatha. He recommended a vegetable soup for covid patients, and it became popular through youtube channels. A few months later, this is what was revealed about him.

In conclusion, it; is vital to understand and appreciate the cultural significance of traditional healing practices in Sri Lanka while also recognizing the limitations and disadvantages of these practices. For medical advice and treatment, it’s always best to consult a licensed healthcare professional and seek evidence-based care whenever possible. Ultimately, the goal should be to balance cultural heritage and modern scientific health practices to ensure everyone in Sri Lanka can access safe, effective, and culturally-sensitive healthcare.


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