These Telangana tribals believe branding keeps the doctor away

Continuing ritual: A young girl being branded on the neck at Marlavai village in Kumram Bheem. Photo: S. Harpal Singh  

When it comes to preventing minor ailments, the Adivasi people, spread over the four districts which had formed part of undivided Adilabad, continue to prefer their age-old ritualistic practice of hot iron branding. They believe that branding at specific spots on the body prevents aches in the stomach and head and also indigestion.

The Gonds call it ‘dahadi verswal’ and observe the ritual in the early hours of Laxmi puja day — this year it fell on October 31.

Cattle and humans get branded with specially made iron and alloy objects in the morning.

The cattle are branded with a small iron rod, which has one or two small rings at the end.

The iron is heated over the ‘gomera’, the year-old sacred lumps of cow dung mixed with husk.

The branding rod for the cattle called ‘dahadi’ and the alloy ring called ‘koval’ used to brand humans are also ritualistically made by blacksmiths during the solar eclipse. It is believed that the timing improves the healing potential of the metal to the maximum.

While cattle are branded by farmers just below the hip or hook bones on the left side, children and adults are branded only by the Ghusadi tado on the spine, on the neck, and on painful spots on the back, abdomen and other parts.

Children are branded on the spine, on the neck, by an incense stick which does not seem to be painful going by the reaction of those who got it done at Marlavai village in KBA district.

“The belief is that the mild heat on the nerve generates positive pressure to keep the individual free of minor ailments,” observed Kanaka Ambaji Rao, a resident of the village.

“The branding does not leave a scar let alone an injury or wound,” Kanaka Hanmanth Rao, who got his hand branded by Kanaka Jugadi Rao, the Ghusadi tado at Marlavai. I get it done every year and stay free of all minor ailments,” he claimed.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 2:30:45 PM |

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