“The African-Baluchi Trance Dance” examines healing rituals prevalent among the African descendant communities in Baluchistan. The spirit possession cults are a blend of local Iranian culture, shamanistic cults, Sufism and traditional African rituals, and have a few elements in common: the belief in living spirits, the importance of the leader, and the use of music and dance to enter an ecstatic state. The similarity of many of these rituals with those of African origin is due to the influx of peoples to Iran through the slave trade that began in the late eighteenth century. Likewise, their Central Asian Sufi and Shamanistic roots are the result of historical migration within closer geographical areas.
Written and produced by Dr. Behnaz Mirzai, this documentary film is about the belief in supernatural forces that can cause illnesses and the healing rituals held to cure the afflicted person. The practice of the rituals remains widespread in remote areas of Baluchistan, especially among poor and illiterate communities where modern medicine is not easily available or has been proven ineffective.
Behnaz Mirzai is Associate Professor at Brock University, Canada.
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