Harvesting the faith on “Local Deities” to make folks in remote villages of Himachal shun Tobacco use!
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The Staesman, Editorial, India
Government of Himachal Pradesh, Health, India
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A615
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Over 21 percent of adults in state of Himachal, India, use some form of tobacco. The state cancer hospital receives about 6000 cases every year, with tobacco related mouth cancers at the top. The state of Himachal has banned tobacco products including Gutkha (Chewable smokelessTobacco) and has recently notified the ban on sale of loose cigarettes and bidis. The law enforcement by government on one side, the state, which is known as the land of Gods, is advantaged by the supreme faith of people on local deities in certain interior villages, as for as health related issues are concerned.

A study of cultural faiths of people in Hurang village of interior Chuhar valley of Mandi district and Tuin and Jathani villages in Lug valley of Kullu district was done by taking interviews of a cross section of local residents so as to assess the influence and role of local deities in decision making by the people in their day to day life.

It was found that hill villages have their own deities, which have a great influence on the life of local people. The local deities has a say in village matters through their 'kardars', (priests). The people have day to day psycho-socio-cultural dependence on them. That is why in these villages, the local deity's diktat against smoking and any kind of tobacco use like smoking, chewing Gutkha, selling or bringing any tobacco product is completely prohibited by local deity's order. Unaware of ban on tobacco the deity's order is sacred for them and any violation can invite deity's wrath for them.

[Hurang Deity giving message of no smoking]

The cultural faiths should be re-enforced and integrated with tobacco control programme for greater influence by making the local symbols of faith, the 'Kardars' as brand ambassadors for spreading the message of shunning all tobacco products and drugs!

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