Aboriginal customs have isolation, social distancing to avoid diseases

Adivasis greeting each other with finger tips in Adilabad district.

Adivasis greeting each other with finger tips in Adilabad district.  

They draw from the experience of the innumerable epidemics that they faced over centuries

All religious customs of the aboriginal tribes in former composite Adilabad district focus mainly on the health and well being of the people, apparently drawing from the experience from the innumerable epidemics that the forest dwellers had faced over centuries.

The fact that the Raj Gonds even have a word for calamities, margad, indicates they had encountered several of those disasters which is why their invocations concentrates on seeking safety from the turn-of-the-season foul air which can bring death.

Protection from contagion by the method of isolation is also not new to the ethnic people here.

Their way of salutations and hugs are also an example which have come to grab attention in the wake of the COVID-19 scare and the protocol being enforced.

Former Labour Commissioner, H.K. Nagu, who is a Raj Gond hailing from Muthnur village in Indervelli mandal of Adilabad district, swears by the efficacy of isolation.

He recalls having been told by his grand father about the way his grand mother Lashimi with her two young sons went into isolation in her agriculture farm for 45 days and saved lives from the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic.

The Adivasi salutation of Ram-Ram involves limiting the hand shake to barely the touch of finger tips immediately followed with the folded hand namaste. During special religious occasions, individuals go through the motions of a hug, called kallival in Gondi, without actual body touch as they do it maintaining a gap between bodies.

Another custom, which has almost been lost, pertains to maintaining personal hygiene evidently to keep contagious diseases at bay. Individuals coming home after a visit to some other village or place had to take a bath before entering home.

"We, the old men of Mandadi clan, still follow this custom of washing our bodies on coming back home," claimed Mandadi Ishru, the elder, as he attended prayers to Aki avval, the mother goddess at his remotely located village Shettihadapnur in Jainoor mandal of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district on Tuesday.

The clan members sought safety from COVID-19 which, they know is the deadliest of all such calamities.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 5:20:30 PM |

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