Sunday, 1 June 2014

To cure snake bites ...

Mantrams are used to cure snakebites. Bhagavantayya in Maalapalli and Jayaramaiyya in Venkataraamapuram would treat snakebites. People who treat with mantrams have to maintain certain disciplines. Bhagavantaiah would pray to the sun daily while reciting some mantrams and also do other required rituals. One requirement was that he should not ask for any money, and should only take what was given. Another was that he should not be drunk as the mantrams would not be effective if he was drunk during treatment.

When people brought snake bite patients, he would first go to the well, draw out water, and after washing his hands and feet with that water, say the mantrams. Once piped water came to the village, he would use water from the street taps. But he would use only  fresh water and not water stored in the pots at home.

Sukanya said she has seen the snake bite patients recover under his treatment. A man had brought his wife from Dinapeta in a serious condition. The victim is always carried, as walking, it is said, can increase the spread of poison. She was given a handful of salt to eat and said she could not taste the saltiness. She was given some chillies and she chewed them them and said she had no sense of taste. So the case was deemed serious. Bhagavanthayya first washed his hands and feet with water from a small bucket. Then he tore a strip of cloth from a cloth he had on his shoulder. He dipped it in water and said some mantrams. Then he tied a knot on it, and again dipped it in water and said some mantrams. Then he tied it on her neck. There was no improvement. He repeated this with another strip of cloth torn from the same cloth. She seemed better, but was still unable to taste salt or chillies. After the third danda or string was tied she regained her sense of taste, recovered and then walked home. This is called dandalu kattatam, or tying of dandas. If bitten by a katla paamu or krait, it is said that one has to tie as many dandas as there are kattalu.

A heavy stone is sometimes placed on the patient’s head which is supposed to keep the poison from rising up. The patient is also kept from sleeping.

To develop immunity to snakebites, one is supposed to eat on a gilledu (Calatropis gigantica)  leaf for forty one days. The leaf is not to be washed, and it can only be dipped in water before use. Food has to be eaten sitting in the same place daily. This regimen of eating in the same place may be difficult for one who goes for labour daily, and maybe for this reason though they all know of this process, no one seems to have followed it. The Irulas also sell a seed which is supposed to address snakebites. Many years ago Lakshmamma’s husband had got it for their elder son when he was still a boy. It had cost fifty rupees then, forty years ago.

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