KOCHI: I had no faith in ayurveda until my wife got cured by it two decades ago. After that, we both started the annual 'Karkidaka treatment,' and it changed our lives. Since then, I have not spent a single day in any other hospital than the one where I undergo the annual treatment," says 78-year-old G C Bose.Bose and his wife Rajamma Bose, 76, had their first tryst with ayurveda in the month of Karkidakam 23 years ago, after the former's retirement.
Since then, the couple has been visiting ayurveda centres every year during 'Karkidakam,' even while shifting their base from Thiruvananthapuram to Tiruvalla and then to Pala.With thousands of men and women within and outside the country making the 'Karkidakam rejuvenation' a part of their lives, like Bose and his wife, traditional healthcare providers bank on the rare combination of treatment and rejuvenation to mint millions during the month, which was once doomed with its 'scarcity' tag.
As per a moderate estimate, during the 32 days of Karakidakam (this year) the State is expected to witness rejuvenation therapy and medicine sales worth around `100 crore.
Though it is an age-old practice in this part of the world, the commercialised blending of Karkidakam and Ayurveda started only two decade ago.
"The trend was started by Gulf Malayalis visiting the State during vacation, who have the time, money and the need for rejuvenation. Then, it was the turn of the other expatriates who usually come to Kerala before Onam. Then, the affluent local residents who could afford the expensive procedures pitched in. The last to join were Arabs who came to know about benefits of the procedure from their Malayali counterparts," says Sajeev Kurup, organiser of the Kerala Aurvedic Promotion Society.
The introduction of 'Karkidaka kanji koottu,' a kit containing ingredients of a medicinal porridge, could be termed a game-changer as it popularised the concept of Karkidakam rejuvenation, of which the main procedure is 'pancha karma.'
"Currently, at least 100 different brands of Karkidaka kanji koottu are available in the market.
“Their sale starts in the last week of the month of 'Midhunam,' and an estimated 10 lakh kits are sold by the time it is ten days into Karkidakam - all in a span of around 15 days. In July 2002, Oushadhi started the procedure as an innovation, and in a couple of years, the volume of business almost doubled," says Raghunandan V Menon, marketing manager at Oushadhi, which is a Government of Kerala undertaking.
"This year, around 300 centres in Kerala are offering ayurveda rejuvenation and treatment during Karkidakam. Various factors, such as price of the medicine and remuneration of doctors and masseurs and hygiene add to the total cost,” points out Sajeev.