If you thought religion was mere superstition in medical science, it is not, at least for the inmates of the Ranchi Institute of Neuro Psychiatry and Allied Sciences (RINPAS).
At RINPAS, one of the leading tertiary care centers for mental patients in eastern India, it works as a therapy for the psychologically disturbed every Durga Puja, claim expert doctors.
During Durga Puja the inmates at RINPAS, get actively involved in the rituals of the puja at the institute and get a glimpse of the mainstream society. Doctors say that the inmates’ participation in the puja rituals brings recreation and rejuvenates them, which helps in psychological recuperation.
This year, the inmates started preparing for the second oldest Durga Puja in the State capital a month ago, and were busy offering prayers to Goddess Durga on Monday.
“Since 1925 the inmates have been celebrating Durga Puja at the institute every year. You can call it Religious Therapy for the inmates,” said Dr. AK Nath, senior doctor at RINPAS and the chairman of the RINPAS Puja Committee.
This ‘Religious Therapy’ may not find existence in the popular medical books across the world, but no doubt it has been helping the psychologically disturbed recuperate for almost a century at RINPAS. “It obviously helps,” said Dr. Amool Ranjan, former director, RINPAS.
“It breaks the monotony of the inmates, gives them an opportunity to socialize and use their creativity in decorations and puja arrangements. All these activities cause stimulus in their brain,” Ranjan said. The four days of Durga Puja are gala days for the inmates at the institute as this is the only time in the year when they get to showcase their creativity. They put up stalls which showcase the handicraft products that they make throughout the year under ‘Art Therapy’ practiced at RINPAS, says Ranjan.
Suresh, 40, (name changed), a patient of anxiety disorder offers prayers to Goddess Durga every year at the institute campus.
“The best part is our involvement in the arrangements for the puja and the distribution of prasaad,” he said.
This year all the 600 inmates at RINPAS, barring a few patients with severe disorders are participating in the puja activities.
“Only the ones who suffer from severe psychological illness and find it difficult to be a part of the celebration are asked not to participate due to medical restrictions,” said Dr. Nath.