Andhra Pradesh

COVID-19: tribals take traditional route to safety

Tribal people wearing masks made of leaves in the Agency areas on the A.P.-Telangana border.  

While people in cities and towns are in a panic due to shortage of masks and gloves, tribal people residing in the Agency areas are making masks with medicinal leaves and following traditional ways to prevent the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.

Tribal people are seen wearing masks made with the forest produce on the Andhra Pradesh-Telangana, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh borders.

“If our ‘gudem’ (hamlet) head gives instructions, we will abide by them at any cost. All women, elders, and children are wearing masks made of leaves. Elders of the community arranged fence at the entrance of the village to prevent entry of outsiders. They are giving tips to improve immunity power at this juncture,” says Majeti Ramulu of Doramamidi village in West Godavari district.

Gotti Koya, Konda Dora, Koya, Kondareddy, Gond and other tribes staying on the borders have been strictly following lockdown and taking preventive measures on their own. Tribal people are preparing masks with medicinal leaves and taking herbal medicines available in the forests.

“Nature is our God. We depend on ‘Adavi talli’ and believe on ‘Vana devatalu’ (Forest goddesses), who protect us in crisis. Our ancestors taught us a lot, particularly the traditions. All our tribes will perform annual jataras and pujas and appeal the God to save us from all diseases and disasters,” says S. Chitti,a tribal woman of Prega village, located on Sukuma border, in East Godavari district.

Complete lockdown

A Lambada tribe, Bhukya Bheema of Kanimerla Thanda in Krishna district, says that all the thandas of Khammam and Bhadradri-Kothagudem districts are self-isolated. “We are not going out from our thanda (hamlet) and lockdown is total in all Lambada thandas,” says Bheema.

“We don’t feel scarcity of masks or hand gloves in forests. Almost all the Koya, Kondareddy, Gotti Koya and other girijan families are experts in preparing medicines with ‘Nirgundi’, ‘Modugu’, ‘Guggilam’, ‘Billedu’, ‘Neem’, ‘Tulasi’, ‘Usiri’ and other leaves, wood, fruits, barks and roots for various health disorders,” says J. Peraiah of Jeelugumilli in West Godavari district.

“Our family heads prepare medicines to prevent contagious diseases, fever, muscle and arthritis pains, jaundice, snake and scorpion bites, stones in kidneys, wounds and swellings, skin diseases, urinary infections, indigestion and other health problems. Now, we are taking country-made medicines to improve resistance power,” says another tribal, Somulu of Yetapaka village.

Many tribal families depend on fishing, forest produce and firewood. "As there is no transportation and communication has been cut-off to the urban areas, there is no work for us," say the tribals.

“The forest produce available from plants and trees and water flowing in streams have medicinal value. We prepare medicines with stem barks, gum paste, flowers, fruits and paste of leaves, dry leaves powder, roots, stems and tender leaves. As per the advice of experts, we take some medicines,” says a tribal leader, Madakam Sanju of Kukunur village in West Godavari district.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 2:32:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/covid-19-tribals-take-traditional-route-to-safety/article31187350.ece

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