Death by Poisoning: Cautionary Narratives and Inter-Ethnic Accusations in Contemporary Sikkim
The Sikkimese are a multi-ethnic community in a Himalayan sub-region in India. Even though the majority of the population is Hindu and Nepalese, the minority Buddhist and Bhutia/Lepcha communities are very strong. Death by poisoning is a common occurrence among the Sikkimese, and it is often ambiguous and subject to suspicion. Narrated initially as traditional cautionary tales, these belief narratives have been used against the multi-ethnic communities that reside in Sikkim, leading to real-world accusations. The article explores how belief in, and narratives related to, poison, poisoning, poison keepers and the poison deity are used to justify the demonisation and othering of a community.