THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Sitting in his house at Elanchiyam, a calm village at the foot of Ponmudi hills, Appukuttan Kani Vaidyan, 94, is waiting for his patients. A known tribal healer who uses medicinal plants for treatment, Appukuttan is one of the first kani vaidyan (healers) in the state to have received recognition from the government in 1985 for his practice. Appukuttan and his four children depend on the age-old practice of tribal healing to earn a living.
Though patients come for private consultation, Appukuttan’s main source of income were the medical camps that he used to conduct with the help of KIRTADS (Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development Studies of SC & ST). Appukuttan said KIRTADS rarely organises camps now, which has affected his income.
Appukuttan, who cast his vote in the booth set up in a school nearby on Tuesday, said those who come to power should take steps to promote local healing methods. The wall of his house is adorned with photos of various political leaders, making it tough for anyone to guess his political leanings. Appukuttan said he would trust those who can protect the lifestyle of the tribal residents and their practices.
“Traditional healers should get due respect from government,” he said. Lack of medical camps and the pandemic have made lives of traditional healers miserable, he said. Located in the verdant valley, Elanchiyam has over a dozen traditional kani healers, all of them with the same problem: Lack of government recognition and financial woes inflicted by the pandemic.