Case Studies

Krishnan Master - Traditional Healing Practice

Traditional Healing is the oldest form of structured medicine, that is, a medicine that has an underlying philosophy and set of principles by which it is practised. It is the medicine from which all later forms of medicine developed, including Chinese medicine, Graeco-Arabic medicine, and of course also modern Western medicine. Traditional Healing was originally an integral part of semi-nomadic and agricultural tribal societies, and although archeological evidence for its existence dates back to only around 6000 B.C., its origins probably date back from well before the end of the last Ice-age. There were and of course still are some regional differences between the principles and philosophy of Traditional Healing although there are also many fundamental similarities that arise from the profound knowledge of natural laws and the understanding of how these influence living things, which is shared by all Traditional Healers.

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Sargi-Chapda and Man: A Case for harmonious Co-existence

Sargi tree contributes to an extremely large extent in maintaining the ecological balance of the region in Bastar, Chattisgarh. The communities here use the tree for various purposes. These include- making pattals and Dona as substitute for utensils, using its figs for cleaning their teeth in form of datoon, using its branches for making enclosures for their fields and farms, extracting gum out of its trunk. In the rainy season a mushroom resembling potato comes out abundantly under this tree. It is not only tasty but possesses high nutritious quality. It is called Boda in the local dialect and cooked as an item of vegetable as well. In addition the logs of the tree are used by the tribal as beams for their huts, for making ploughs and carts and a number of items of everyday domestic use.

Of particular importance is the fact that one of the species of the ant family "Chapda" which is one of the popular delicacies of the tribes thrives on the leaves of this tree.

Sargi-Chapda is an example of sustainable living traditions from the rural backyards of India. The Sargi ants make nests for themselves out of the leaves of the tree using their saliva as the adhesive to join the leaves, since the leaves are large and have smooth surface, they offer the necessary protection to them. Chapda is a particular delicacy for the tribals of the area; they make chutney out of them. It is a prevalent belief among them that this is a sure protection against any eye ailment. It is interesting to note that generally they consume this delicacy in abundance during the months of April-May when the summer is at its peak and winds blow strong, which can cause a number of eye diseases. Another belief prevalent is that if a nest of these ants along with its occupants, is put on the body of a patient their sting would prove a sure cure against any illness. The etymology of the word Chapda is interesting - the literal meaning of Chapda is a basket made out of the leaves. In all probability the word was coined after observing the nest of Chapda.

Source: Chattisgarh State Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Document

Unnikrishnan Peruvannan - Theyyam

Theyyam or Theyyattam is a popular ritualistic folk dance form of North Malabar supported by a vast literature and folk songs. Theyyam or theyyattam means 'dance of the gods' (deyvam=god, attam=dance) and it invokes the presence of the deity in the body of the dancer. It is a native cult of spirit and hero worship that has survived and coexisted with more recent Aryan/Brahminical rituals. The Bhagavathy or the Goddess cult is an ancient tradition in this region and practically every village has a Bhagavathy shrine or kavu. Each such shrine along with shrines devoted to a variety of major and minor deities has its own theyyams which are conducted as annual festivals in which the entire community of the village participates. Velan, Malayan and Vannan are the predominant communities that have traditionally performed theyyams. There are also other tribes that perform theyyams as part of spirit or ancestor worship.

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People of India Project

In October 1985, a project was launched by The Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) called People of India. The objective of the project was to generate a brief, descriptive anthropological profile of all the communities of India, the impact of change and development processes on them and the links that bring them together.

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