Traditional Jaundice healer

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Traditional Jaundice healer

Traditional Jaundice healer

Sk. Mashudur Rahman

The term traditional healing does not define a unified homogeneous practice. Grouped under this term are most of the medical practices that fall outside the realm of scientific medicine. Thus, Kabiraj Hakim, practitioners of folk medicine and Faith Healer of different shades fall under this broad umbrella.

In general, the traditional systems operate outside the Govt. health care system and are self financing dependent upon the financial capabilities of the patients.

There are about 6,000 practioners of traditional medicine in Bangladesh. Modern medicine alone cannot meet the deeper health needs of the people involved, in the judgment of the people involved, in the judgment of them. In this context I will try to highlight the symptom, prevention and remedies suggested by a traditional jaundice healer from his own point of view.

Kabiraj Nirapod Kha is very famous and well known as a healer of jaundice. His residence is in the village of Chargran of Tala Thana under the district of Satkhira. He belongs to a Sortavaza religion of Vhogobanian Community.

According to him people from every district in Bangladesh, except Bhola, come to him. According to him when a person is attacked with jaundice, the eyes and the color of urine become yellow, a pain in the right side of the belly is felt, the lips dry and the person suffers from fever.

There are generally three kinds of Jaundices: Holy, Pathura and Rokto Jaundice. Holy – Jaundice is a very ordinary one. The patient does not last long if Patltura jaundice attacks and if attacked with Rokto (blood) jaundice there comes blood with urine and excrement. The patient lasts for twenty one days and dies on the twenty second day. Nirapad Kha gives medicines for these three kinds of jaundice.

About 29 or 30 years ago there died three men being attacked with jaundice in the neighbour hood of the Para under my experiment. After it, a son and two daughters of Nirakha were attacked with jaundice.

All the prescriptions given by both doctors and Kabirajes (Ayurvedic Physician) failed to heal children. All the members of the family were weeping. Nirakha gave up all kinds of foods and taking bath, because he found no meaning of living.

Nirakha’s parents began to persuade him even by touching his legs, to eat but he refused and asked how they could request him to eat while his three children were dying and he also declared that the would eat nothing from that day. The parents began to weep very submissively to the Real Owner. Then at a time just before dawn of the following night, Nira’s father came to him and said that a very old man had come to him and given him a root which could be used to heal any jaundice.

Nirakha got up quickly and instantly he prepared the hookah and gave it to his father so that he (father) could refain from sleep, because it is said that if the man, who has got some medicines during his sleep, falls asleep again, the utility of the medicine is destroyed. He believes that either Aul Chand or anybody on his behalf had come and given the medicine.

He declares firmly that jaundice is a contagious disease and cannot be healed with anything but something got supernaturally. The man when giving the medicine to Nirakha’s father had also given some rules concerning the use of the medicine. When Nirkha got the medicine he tied it over his three children navels early in the morning without eating anything and without doing anything else and the children was healed without delay.

This news was spread from his house to the village, from the village to the union, from the union to the Thana and from the Thana to various districts. When Nirakha’s father was alive he gave the medicine to all for 7 or 8 years and after that Nirakha has been giving it for the last 12 or 13 years with but any objection.

The medicine is given only in the mornings on Saturdays and Tuesdays. The medicine must be given and received early in the morning with unused mouth and hands on both parts. Kabiraj gets up very early in the morning and stopping his breath gets the roots. Then he gets the roots rolled in a shroud. The entire comers stand in line and then he first blows some charms over the roots and then he hinds the roots over the navels of the patients.

At the same time he informs them the rules. Those who are attacked with an ordinary jaundice will be healed by using the medicine twice. But the people who are inflicted with Pathura jaundice, get their testicle swelled and ulcers on the body as soon as they use the medicine. Until the ulcers are healed the medicine taking should be continued. For Rokto (blood) jaundice, the patient is to use the roots for 5 or 6 weeks. From how far away the patient comes it does not matter the patient must come to take the medicine directly.

According to him, there come from 35 patients TK 285 on every date. But the general future is that there come from 80 to 90 patients a day. Sometimes there come some patients who are also suffering from fever. In such case Kabiraj Nirakha, gives a root, which should be squeezed with 2 and half black papers and if the juice collected thus is drunk, the patients will get rid of the fever.

As a cautionary step, Nirakha informs his parents his patients that the disease is a contagious one. So the patients’ foods must not be cooked in those pots which are used by other meat eating people. For the patient some new pots should be bought and the pots must be washed very clean. The patients are also prohibited not to use others clothes and beds. Without regarding the time of healing, the patients must avoid shrimp, Elisha, pulse, sour foods (unused for a night), eggs, meats, medicine, garlic, milk and all the dishes made of milk, date juice and its molasses for twenty one days.

The patient must have 7 green coconuts during the first 7 days after taking the medicine each on every day. No fruit except ripened Papaya and wood apple, should be given to the patient, sugar-molasses and sugar – Juice should be provided as much as possible.

For the first 7 years only one taka was fixed which was given to the preceptor. But Nirkhas financial condition is not well of; he cannot give all the time to the patient. For this reason, the preceptor has decided in the presence of all members of the community that eleven taka should be taken as fee and out of it one taka (16 Anna) will be given to the preceptor.

To solve the problem that whether the utility of the medicine will be unchanged after the death of Nirakha and in this regard who will be suitable to give the medicine, Nirakha along with his sons, wife, daughter and daughter in law went to a Gnock house (palmists house) and was told that after his death if the son of the Kabiraj continues the process the utility of the medicine will be unchanged. At present Nikh’s eldest son, after being given the permission, distributes the medicine with the help of a man.

Hopefully, a new culture of integrated medicine as envisioned by WHO (1978) will develop by accommodating traditional healing practices, where possible with modern scientific medicine. This will help in a medically pluralistic society like Bangladesh to strive forward to stated goal of “Health for All by the Year 2000”

So if there is some unique quality prevailing in this jaundice healer, the civil society should uphold his uniqueness and to take proper steps to preserve that and then we should also carry out in the field of our treatment with the help of this indigenous treatment.

(The author is post graduate student in the Department of Anthropology, University of Dhaka.)


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