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Dying Whispers

Sahar Zand explores the Belarusian tradition of healing by breathing whispers.

Sahar Zand travels to Belarus to observe one of the world's oldest, strangest spiritual customs: the practice of healing by breathing whispers.

This ancient tradition involves a respected elder member of the community, one who is blessed with the "gift" of whispering, offering their friends and neighbours hope and succour where modern medicine and organised religion has apparently failed, or where tradition and superstition still hold sway over contemporary answers to life's tribulations.

The whisperer quietly recites a series of ritualised, rhyming words which are said to combat myriad diseases, infections and spiritual malaise. There are special combinations of whispers, and rules that govern their use, all of which take years of learning as they are passed down from generation to generation.

Sahar travels to the heart of the Belarusian countryside to meet the remaining whisperers keeping their belief systems alive in the face of countless obstacles. She gets a glimpse into a way of life that is rapidly disappearing, a life that sits at the mystical crossroads of Christian faith and folkloric superstition, the faithful and the doubters.

(Photo: Elder member of rural community in Belarus. Credit: BBC/Siarhiej Leskiec)

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27 minutes

Last on

Sun 4 Nov 2018 23:32GMT



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