Note: This article is for informational purposes only. This is not an attempt to suggest any kind of cure and medication. This information in this article is based on the experience and traditional medicinal knowledge of Adivasis. Please consult your doctor before consuming these medicines.
Translated from Kokborok by: Manisha Debbarma
Butterflies may be beautiful to look at, but before they emerge out of their cocoons in their majestic glory, they crawl on the Earth as woolly worms. The worms creep into indigenous homes and, in the process, shed some of their fur on clothes and other household items. People who come in contact with these items then develop allergies and itches that lead to reddened skin and inflammation. Since time immemorial, the indigenous people of Tripura have been using locally available items to counter the allergies and itches caused by woolly worms. Some of these items are listed below:
Grub worms are mostly found in cow dung. One or two of these worms are plucked out and their heads are removed. They are then used to make paste for immediate relaxation for the itching and swelling.
Another ingredient that is needed for making the medicine that can cure the itch when it comes in contact with the woolly worms is dry fish. Dry fish can be found in every indigenous home as they are an important additive in cooking local dishes. Earlier, people used to make their own dry fish at home, but these days, they buy it from the market.
The last ingredient required for making the balm is earthworms. In the villages of Tripura, these can easily be found in the soil of a garden or backyard. Earthworms are important agents of agriculture as they increase nutrient availability and soil fertility. Earthworms are collected by digging them up using a spade.
After collecting all three ingredients, they are mixed in a bowl and crushed into a paste. The paste is then applied on regions that came in touch with the woolly worms. Since the paste is not pleasant to look at, you can tie a cloth around the area where it has been applied. The paste works as a cooling agent and immediately provides relief. The allergies will heal in a day’s time.
After applying this medicine, even swollen hands infected by the touch of of woolly worms can heal. In this way, the indigenous people of Tripura can heal when their body, hands and legs are affected by the woolly worms. Not many people know about this medicine and those who know about it are using it and also earning money through it.
However, nowadays, these ayurvedic or herbal medicines are not used very often. Nevertheless, tribals in many villages in Tripura are still using them and passing on the knowledge to future generations.
Note: The information about this medicine was provided by Anjana Debbarma from Lefunga, Agartala, West Tripura.
The article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.