Tribal medicine and its practitioners in Mananthavady



Tribal medicine and its practitioners in   Mananthavady

As my Birthplace, when I looks to my surroundings, Mananthavady still to boast a few more things. one of this is the practice of tribal medicine. The culture and the tradition of these tribes exist within a thin sphere of influence. If these tribes become extinct, valuable knowledge of traditional medicines will be lost forever.

There are many tribes in this area and actually the story of Wayanad is the story of tribals. The tribes can be prominently classified into Paniyas, Adiyas, Kattunayakans, Kurichiyans,Kurumas,Ooralis, UraaliKurumas etc. These tribes still believe and practice their traditional medicines which involve a variety of wild herbs.

Vellanvaidyar of Thirunelli and Keluvaidyar of Kattikulam in the Wayanad district of Kerala are famous for their traditional way of treatment based on wild herbs. While Vellanvaidyar is known for the treatment of cancer, paralysis, fractured bones, asthma and diabetes, Keluvaidyar is famous for the treatment of cancer, asthma, diabetes and skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema. They receive patients from far and wide. The patients who seek treatment from them after hospitals fail to cure their diseases get much relief .




Keluvaidyar of Kattikulam belong to the Kurichya tribe and he is famous for their traditional way of treatment based on wild herbs .Kartikulam is situated nearest town In Mananthavady , Kartikulam has now developed into a small city. Keluvaidyar, a new generation tribal healer, is a famous medical practitioner in the locality, and close to 1500 patients visit him a week.
He is famous for the treatment of All type of dioceses.






There are many tribes in this area and actually the story of Wayanad is the story of tribals. The tribes can be prominently classified into Paniyas, Adiyas, Kattunayakans, Kurichiyans,Kurumas,Ooralis, UraaliKurumas etc. These tribes still believe and practise their traditional medicines which involve a variety of wild herbs.

Vellanvaidyar of Thirunelli and Keluvaidyar of Kattikulam belong to the Kurichya tribe and both are famous for their traditional way of treatment based on wild herbs.
 
 
 
 

 

My friend Neethu Mohan has a good article &  report in search of the  traditional medicine practitioners.

 
Katticulam town


When the weather began to warm up, I set off to the foot of Thirunelli temple to meet Vellanvaidyar who is famous for the treatment of cancer, paralysis, fractured bones, asthma, diabetes etc.

“The power of our traditional medicines is indeed unique. We have medicines meant for adults as well as children,” he said as he examined a patient with a broken arm.

The Vaidyar’s assistant proudly narrated how his master had recently cured an eight-year-old paralytic girl who had been admitted in various hospitals in South India, but in vain. Finally, her parents met Vellanvaidyar. “Often, people are reluctant to stick to traditional medicines, and keep it as a last resort,” says the father of the child. He said the treatment for paralysis began with a detailed diagnosis, followed by the application of medicated oil. The Vaidyar then prepared the medication accordingly, and within a few weeks, the patient was cured partly. According to him, patients who first try modern medicines and then switch to traditional medicines take a longer time to get cured.


As per tribal customs, the ingredients used in the preparation of medicines are always kept as a secret. They believe the medicine loses its curing power if the details of the ingredients are revealed. Moreover, they do not follow the system of naming various wild herbs. “Very little scripted information is passed down from our forefathers about the medicines. We identify the herbs by its features,” says Vaidyar.

Vellanvaidyar is a renowned bone specialist too. He has a special set of formulae to treat fractures. For instance, egg is added to the ‘solution’ to increase its adhesiveness in fracture treatment. The procedure is quiet simple. First, the dislocation is precisely identified, then it is cleared, and finally the fractured area is covered with a special combination of medicines.

Recovery is usually expected within a few days. The Vaidyar collects all his medicinal herbs from the neighbouring forests.
 

Vellan Vaideyar Courtesy Neethu Mohan

The Vaidyar has patients from India and abroad. They include celebrities and sports persons.

The story of Keluvaidyar is the story of a small town called Kaatikulam in Mananthavady. Once a rural town in Mananthavady panchayath, Kaatikulam has now developed into a small city. Keluvaidyar, a new generation tribal healer, is a famous medical practitioner in the locality, and close to 1500 patients visit him a week.

He is widely known for the treatment of cancer, asthma, diabetes and skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema.

“Ours is a 100 percent traditional method of treatment. Unlike other alternative methods, we do not make use of metallic ingredients in our medicines and so the effect is immense,” says Keluvaidyar. People suffering from various ailments come here from Bengaluru and Dubai for treatment. Workers assist him in the preparation of medicines in a small facility attached to his dispensary.

However, it was not easy for Kelu to become a famous Vaidyar. It took him years to collect the details of the traditional practitioners and document their treatment methods.

According to him, the data collection was a Herculean task as the old generation practitioners were unwilling to impart their knowledge to the new generation.

Keluvaidyar is very particular about the secrecy of the formulae of medicines he uses. Since the tribals do not have a system for naming the herbs, documentation of medicines is practically impossible. There arises the issue of patenting the medicines. “We have some of the best and most effective medicines in the world, but we are not aptly credited for our efforts,” says the practitioner with disappointment.

“Every week, I go into the forests and stay there for a couple of days hunting for the right herbs,” he said.

 If these tribes become extinct, valuable knowledge of traditional medicines will be lost forever.Thus, we have to ensure that the culture and the ecology of the tribal India is not impinged upon.









The Sangam Panther- A walk back




The Sangam Panther- A walk back
Sangam is a small  village  near to the  confluence of Rivers Cauvery and Arkavathi. Kenneth Anderson wrote a good experience of this area in a story  "The Sangam Panther". Please read in the book Man eaters and Jungle killers. A man eating Panther was active in this area and KA bags it in a hair raising style. As I liked the story and so liked to the geography of this area, I just  compile some photos and thoughts. Click the images for bigger pictures.

The Plot

Sangam is around 100 Km from Bangalore. After reaching Kanakapura on NH209, take a left turn to sangam on SH 92.  About 16kms from Kanakapura you will reach a junction, to the right of which is Cauvery fishing camp. The ghat roads at sangam will give you more joy. Sangam is sounded by hills of Deccan Plateau and water at sangam is not so deep. After sangam Cauvery water flows to Hogenakal and to Stanley Reservior.
Sangama- 2007


Sangama- today







Sangam in relation with major towns

The Road,Kanankapura to Sangam in 2014


The Road,Kanankapura to Sangam in 2007



the  confluence of Rivers Cauvery and Arkavathi

 THE Village


Sangama Village. Newly constructed houses can be seen.





Exact site of old  village. Now  empty space, under Revenue Department.


A side road from Sangama.  Old village was on the right side.



The Main  "tourist Street" in the area near the old village. now Only shops and no huts. 






boarders of TN and Karnataka



Two main Hamlets present now, with some modern Buildings.
Muthee trees along the riverside



Muthee trees along the riverside can be seen in Google maps


 The old bungalow is abandoned I think, but the tree where he parked KA's car is still there. The location of the abandoned bungalow just next to the river is confusing.Photo from 2006- KA yahoogroup.


NOW  WE CANNOT PARK OUR CAR HERE. photo of  2014.This area with old muthee tree is converted to a mini park.




When one sees the bungalow, one can imagine how the scence would have been 50 years back with the great man sitting on the balcony, smoking his pipe and staring at the forest. photo from 2006- KA yahoogroup
2014 photo of the same place pictured above. Old forest bungalow where KA stayedhas been  demolished and a new hotel  under government runs here now.

 .


Old forest bungalow. The location of the abandoned bungalow just next to the river is indescribable.photo from 2006- KA yahoogroup



But one of the old structure still seen here. Villagers said this stands  in same place of the above Pic.



A crocodile spotted on riverbed in other bank.Photo courtesy Team BHP






Preparations.

After reaching the village, KA spent time to get idea about the locations and formed his plans. He purchased 4  young buffaloes and a dog as baits and walked all around the village.




 

More plans and Preparations.





 The alternate route  to bungalow









Make-Dat

KA described :
From this point Sangam, about 3.5 kilometers downstream, the river Kaveri flows through a deep gorge so narrow that one would think that a goat can leap across it ('Mekedatu' means 'goat's leap' in Kannada). It is not really so narrow and no goat commonly found in that part of India could cross that distance in a single leap. It is about 100 km from Bangalore via Kanakapura. The name comes from an incident which is believed to have been witnessed by herdsmen in that area a long time ago. It is said that a goat being chased by a tiger made a desperate attempt to save its life by leaping from one side of the gorge and managed to cross over the raging river below, whereas the tiger did not attempt to replicate this feat, and abandoned the chase. The point where the goat leapt has widened since then from erosion caused by the river Cauvery.
I am not able to understand what is written, still  acclaime that any crocodile  will read this notice board and will not swim in this area.


Kanakapura-sangam road
The Road,Kanankapura to Sangam -

Road To Sangama




















































  

Read the passages , it will speak self.







Gorge

 

File:Powerful current.JPG
Photo courtesy Team BHP

The water flows very fast through the gorge, gouging pits in the rocky riverbed. The climb down is steep and the rocks slippery, making it very dangerous to swim in the river. Drownings continue to occur here, although people have been warned about the danger by a small board and writing on rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death Trap

 





Out of tourists visit this place, high number of people drown in the river, either when swimming or slipping off the cliff. It is a very dangerous place. The 4 feet shallow water is very deceiving as it seems harmless but has claimed the life of 100's of people in the past years.The water current is very fast, and a person can drown in minutes. Just a small slip might be fatal. There are also crocodiles in the water. The place lacks warning signs in several places, but crocodiles and slippery surfaces make it one of the riskiest tourist spots.  The rock surface near cliff, both during season or during dry season, is very slippery and deceiving. Usually young people and students, who venture near cliff drown here.
KA sat on the edge of the rocks and watched the troubled, racing river. A hundred yards away, downstream, where  the surface had become placid again, an occasional fish broke water, leaping into the air, as if evincing sheer exuberance and the joy of living. A fish-eagle circled in the ethereal blue of a clear sky. After a while, he retraced to the bungalow. He had still not found any panther tracks.



 The rock




 KA had noticed a rock at its edge hardly a mile away from village. He  took the dog, tied it at the foot of the rock and walked away down the road. Silently he clambered up, and lay flat on its top. The rock was still warm from the sun that had been shining on it all day.

The killer struck again:



While KA waiting   on the rock, a hyena disturbed the bait dog several times, and KA describes  about its nuisance behaviors in depth. Around midnight a group of men armed with lathes and a matchlock came to  the spot to inform, the panther had seized one of the five sleeping inmates in hut, a woman about 25 years old. She had shrieked aloud as she found herself being dragged away, waking the other four persons in the room,who were her father, two brothers and mother. Meanwhile, the panther was trying to drag her out through the opening in the thatch by which it had entered. The girl struggled violently. The panther dropped her and bit her viciously. One of the brothers struck a match to lighten the darkness of the hut's interior. Her father, with commendable bravery and presence of mind, hurled the only missile which came to his hand, at the panther The missile happened to be a brass water-pot of some weight, and it struck the panther full on its side.
KA describes that Maneaters, whether tigers or panthers, invariably have a streak of cowardice in their natures and this panther was no exception to the general rule. Leaving its victim, it had dashed out of the hut through the opening in the thatch. The screams of the mauled woman and the general pandemonium had awakened the whole village.

The Night with Cattles

The exact site of old "Cattle patti"


New village  location.



 The Night on zinc roof

 Read the passages , it will speak.
 

Some pictures around the area 



The final meeting 


After a night long vigilance on the  dog shed over the Zinc roof, KA heard noises of  jungle folk when the panther was approaching, but could not see due to the darkness. some how the panther discovered him and came directly under the roof where KA hindered.

Peering forward slowly, KA began to scan the village lane in both directions. Starlight was not good at that moment, only enough to prevent the night from being obscure. The lane to right and left appeared as a faint blur and of a slightly lighter shade than the surroundings. He could hear nothing and see nothing. Then Anderson caught the faintest of sounds. It appeared to be a hiss such as a cobra might make.  And it came from in front and directly below him. Was it the hiss of a snake or the faint noise a panther makes when he curls back the skin of his upper lip?


Read the story  for what happened next.
Photo courtesy :animalpictures.com



Dear all, you must read the story for a thrilling  experience.  Then   you can enjoy and love  this area more and more. Thank you  Kenneth Anderson for this excellent story.