Police in a Lebap etrap urge folk healers to obtain a license from the Healthcare Ministry

The majority of both rural and urban residents of Turkmenistan are very superstitious. Apart from mullahs and Sufi leaders (tariqa), services offered by folk healers (tebib), fortune tellers (palchi) and sorcerers (porkhan) are still in demand. Their services are closely related to local customs and traditions, which are strictly observed in conservative Turkmen society.

former President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov is also very superstitious.For instance, all his aircraft have registration numbers containing 0 and 7.

Every year his forecasts are based on predictions from of the Muslim calendar.At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic he encouraged residents to disinfect premises with harmel smoke (folk medicine herb).

Berdymukhammedov senior is also an avid advocate of Feng shui.

The authorities of Turkmenistan have repeatedly tried to ban these esoteric practices. However, because they are in such high demand, the practitioners quickly resumed their practice.

Attempts to regulate these activities are currently being made.

According to correspondents of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan”, in early April district police officers visited sorcerers’ houses in Chovdur gengesh (formerly, the collective farm “Moscow”) in Lebap velayat and strongly recommended them to obtain a license from the Ministry of Healthcare and Medical Industry within two to three months.

Otherwise they would have to cease practising and will be held liable, police officers said.

Mullahs and Sufi tariqa also need to obtain a similar document, issued by the Committee for Religious Organizations.

There are no precedents of licenses being issued to folk healers. It is expected that they will have to do a test based on the books on medicinal herbs authored by former President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov.

Because medical treatment in hospitals is expensive, many residents, especially rural inhabitants, seek help from folk healers. When one of these practitioners dies, their son or daughter takes over. The job is often passed on to the next generation at the request of the village residents.

As regards religious leaders, there is a shortage of specialists because from early 2000-s madrasas and training centres at mosques were closed.Only a few dozen people enroll in the Department of Theology (Ylahyýet) at Magtymguly University, but there are not enough specialists.

Therefore, the majority of mullahs are self-taught or who have been trained in other private religious groups.Police officers are unable to inform fortune tellers or sorcerers who they need to contact in order to obtain a certificate but their activities are less controlled because the majority of the Interior Ministry staff are superstitious and they fear that they could be cursed or cast under an evil spell.

According A client of a fortune teller, they do not charge a fixed fee the person seeking help gives an amount of money which he feels appropriate.

People usually pay 1000 manats per session (for example, the lifting of an evil eye) ($286 using the official rate, or $51 at “the black market” rate).The post Police in a Lebap etrap urge folk healers to obtain a license from the Healthcare Ministry first appeared on Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

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