Andhra Pradesh

Tribals show the way in curbing spread of COVID

Locking down villages has been part of their custom, says professor

Tribals living in the mandals of Araku and Paderu have decided to impose a voluntary partial lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus in Visakhapatnam Agency.

Villagers have erected barricades at village entry points in the mandals, and have curtailed business hours for shops and establishments from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and have asked restaurants to only offer takeaway.

Most importantly, they have unanimously agreed to halt the resumption of shandies (weekly bazaars), which is considered to be their main economic activity.

“There were no coronavirus cases till the first week of June, and all of a sudden, five cases were recorded from the interior mandals of Munchingput, Koyyuru, Chintapalli and GK Veedhi. This prompted us to impose a partial lockdown,” said Killo Surendra of Girijan Sangam JAC.

Cultural differences

“Unlike people living in the plains or cities, tribals have a more democratic form of society. They still follow the ‘village elder’ concept and go with the panchayat setup,” said Professor P.D. Satyapal of the Department of Anthropology at Andhra University.

“They believe in collective decisions and give equal status to women, which is why they still follow the ‘bride price’ system instead of the dowry system that is prevalent in cities and towns,” he said.

According to Prof. Satyapal, even locking down villages have been a part of their custom.

Every year, during spring, tribals observe the ‘Etikula panduga’. During this period, tribals barricade the villages and do not allow outsiders to enter. They believe that outsiders might bring in ‘malevolent spirits’ that would spread diseases and spoil their crop. During this period, the guarding of the villages is taken care of by the women, while the men go into the forest for hunting. Tribals are extremely conscious of diseases and endemics, as they are hit hard every year with diseases such as cholera and malaria and follow innovative methods to keep them at bay,” Prof. Satyapal said.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 1:47:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/tribals-show-the-way-in-curbing-spread-of-covid/article31934927.ece

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