Spooky soundtrack, startling camera angles, expressions of numb terror. From William Friedkin who directed timeless classic The Exorcist in 1973, to Ram Gopal Varma and Ramsay Brothers, film-makers have been cashing in on movie buffs’ need for chill pills.
But supernatural or paranormal situations in real life — when people complain of living in haunted homes or being possessed by spirits or claim rebirth — raise concerns on mental health, superstition and phobias.
A national summit in Ranchi in December hosted by Indian Paranormal Society will see around 40 experts from India and abroad addressing these issues and debunking myths.
The event — a first in the city — will also give the masses an opportunity to share their stories with experts, said Indian Paranormal Society regional director Shishir Kumar on Tuesday.
“The aim of this summit is to give people scientific explanations if they feel anything unexplained is going around them. Experts of paranormal activity, parapsychology, among others, will discuss different dimensions of daily life that general science can’t explain,” he said.
He added the exact date in December would be announced in November. “Our CEO and founder Gaurav Tiwari will do the honours from New Delhi. But Ranchi as the venue is final,” he said.
As to why the capital was chosen as the venue, Kumar said when Tiwari visited Jharkhand, he found that beliefs such as witchcraft were high.
“Several innocent people are branded as witches and killed. This summit will address many issues that are of relevance to the people of Jharkhand,” he said.
Not many know about Indian Paranormal Society. Kumar said it was a professional non-profit association of dedicated paranormal researchers, para-psychologists and enthusiasts focused on researching and understanding the human condition through the scientific study of aerial, psychic and anomalous phenomena.
“We examine reality, reach and impact of unexplained phenomena on humanity. Members and staffers are honorary volunteers. We depend on generous donations,” he said.
The capital has two mental health hubs — Ranchi Institute of Neuro-psychiatry and Allied Sciences (Rinpas) and Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP).
Told about the summit, senior Rinpas professor K.S. Sengar welcomed the initiative.
“Parapsychology is an intriguing concept as it explains matters beyond the pale of the so-called normal. We have heard about rebirth, telepathy and experiences of saints that can’t be explained. I know academics in Kerala and Rajasthan are doing serious research on these subjects. It’s good that Ranchi will have a forum for debate and unanswered questions,” Sengar said.