This paper was presented at the
National Seminar on
Indian Psychology: Theories and Models

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007

 

Petal Oracle (Prasad Pakhali): a psychotherapeutic approach

Suhas Shetgovekar — St. Xavier’s College, Goa

 

People of all walks of life go to ask a Goddess advice or guidance on many matters -- job offers, marriage, prospective journeys, medical operations, business and troubled relationships. As people in other parts of the world consult astrologers before taking action, many people in Goa consult the deities by divination. This divination is Petal oracle or ‘Prasad Pakhali’.

It is a therapy in which someone listens to their woes. But what is most salient here is that, the devotees both bring and develop an image of a deity who takes an interest in all believers or all propitiators, a Goan deity, who right in front of them, every week helps people solve their real problems. Lawyers, policemen, politicians, ship’s cooks, stewards that roam the world, clerks, and mechanics – all are tied to the Goddess and God by those tiny petals. It is a symbol that strengthens their bonds to Goa and is linked with their dreams. It establishes ties of the imagination that are nearly invisible to a social scientist but strong and vital nonetheless.

The paper employs an exploratory approach, in which an attempt is made to understand the process of ‘Prasad Pakhali’ and the therapeutic effect it has on the people who believe in it. An interview method was used. The information about ‘Prasad Pakhali’ was collected from the Hindu Pundits of various temples in Goa and texts pertaining to Goan culture. The sample constituted of men and women with varied backgrounds pertaining to educational level, socio economic status, age groups and religion.

Email the author, Ms. Suhas Shetgovekar, at suhasgoa@yahoo.co.in