275 02/07/2012 A group of African traditional healers listen attentively as Dadi RatanMohini speaks to them at the Ekukhanyeni meditation centre in Diepkloof, Soweto about spirituality and meditation. This was a unique spiritual meeting in Soweto in which the Indian Yogi met with African traditional healers and shared ideas concerning spirituality. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee


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IT WAS more than just a tale of two cultures colliding when a group of traditional healers and an Indian yogi and meditator met at the Ekukhanyeni Meditation Centre in Diepkloof Extension, Soweto.

The event was meant to highlight the common practices and beliefs shared by the two groups rather than draw a cultural divide on traditions which on the surface seem to be worlds apart.

The centre was transformed into a colourful presentation of the two worlds colliding in vibrant display – to the colourful beads on the ankles and wrists of the traditional healers, with their drums and red fabric wraps, and the pristine white robes worn by the yogi and her followers.

Yoga is a generic term for a physical, mental and spiritual discipline originating in ancient India and found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

It aims to use meditation to help an individual attain spiritual enlightenment.

Dadi RatanMohini, a yogi with more than 75 years of experience in the field of yoga with her interpreter, sister Dipty Naran, and meditator brother Ramnath, addressed a delegation of traditional healers and residents on meditation, spiritual understanding, human values and the power of positive thinking.

Lebo Nxumalo has found meditation to be the secret to her new found peace of mind. She used to work for a multinational company, but found it stressful.

She could never leave her job to start her own business because of worldly trappings.

“I thought if I had the latest car and a fancy house it would make me happy,” said Nxumalo.

Boyce Mgcina, a traditional healer who specialises in muti, explained that the event was a means of exchange.

“The only thing that is different is the manner we do things.”

He referred to the fact that in African culture meditation comes in the form of calling upon the ancestors and going under a steam tent using traditional herbs.

“Those two occasions are a time that we as African get a chance to reflect and centre ourselves.”

He also pointed out that when entering a traditional healer’s consultation room, people must take off their shoes, the same as in yoga because the space was considered to be sacred.

Many healers wanted to know what happens to the spirit when a person died.

Others wanted to understand to whom their healing gifts would be passed.

“When I die, does my spirit go to an old person or unborn child and if there is no pregnant woman in the family, will it go to someone outside the family?” a sangoma asked.

Ramnath said that the personal account with regard to the spirit’s deeds and values would dictate where the spirit went. “The spirit doesn’t choose, its action does.”

He went further to explain that when the spirit passed into a new body it continued its journey. “It’s like a cellphone simcard, even when you put it in a different phone it will still register its credentials.”