Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Vaids dont charge ...

Not asking for money is another code many vaidudus follow. Bhagavanthayya would also not ask for any money for treating snake bites, and would only take what was given. This was one of the requirements for this treatment, he said. People like Sankariah who remove dishti also do not ask for money and just take whatever is given. Bhagavanthayya would not ask for anything for treating snake bites or for saying mantrams. When people go for mantram, they usually take betel leaf, betel nut, camphor, incense and kaanika or small money. For tying antrams people ask for money. Things need to be procured for preparing the antram. If people recover from a serious condition after tying the antram, they may voluntarily pay upto five hundred rupees, and maybe also give a hen.
When people go for seetu to Daamalcheruvu to address the sandulu of infants, again the people there do not ask for money. They also do not take money by hand. The people who go for the seetu place some money down , maybe five rupees or more these days, and the people take it from there later. The people who give the seetu, give it for punyam, that children may become well. The elder bone setter at Kallur, now dead, would not even look at the money given, but would just stuff it into his pocket. He did not care to know who gave what.
Maybe not asking for money retains the attitude of non acquistiveness, which will give power to the mantrams. The concept of making a living as a doctor is not common – and such doctors were usually doing farming as their main occupation. The vaidudu is usually honest about the possibilities of treatment. The Padmavatiamma of Vallivedu who gives medicines for epilepsy said frankly that in case of a long standing problem, she would give the medicine, but it depends on the ‘adrishtam’ (‘good luck’) of the patient when I had gone to ask her about a patient who wished to come to her from Delhi ! This is a cultural habit and also holds for the local people who have become practicing allopaths, qualified or unqualified.

Though usually vaidudus do not demand money, people usually give something. ‘Karma Kaanchnantho pothundi’ means that bad karma (fate) goes with kaanchana (meaning gold or money), and so people usually give some small change to the person who removes dishti. Betel leaf and betelnut and tobacco is usually given. Bangaaramma, Bhagavantiah’s wife once said, “ When I went for dogbite treatment, I gave the lady the three rupees I had and said , ‘Buy yourself some betel-leaf’’.  But in general the attitude of  people to doctors in also in tune with this fact that money is voluntarily given. The traditional bone-setters are at Kallur, a half-hour bus ride from the village. The people generally go there for fractures. No payment used to be demanded, but people would pay voluntarily and willingly. Akkalavva gave fifty rupees in the year 2000, when fifty rupees was substantial.  In recent times though the bone setters have also started charging.

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