KOZHIKODE: In 2013, Cassandra Jean-Pierre flew down to Kozhikode for a ‘sukha chikitsa’ (rejuvenation treatment) after hearing from her friends that Malabar region in India is the best for it.
After experiencing pain in certain joints in her body, the French woman realised that the treatment provided to her by one of the leading hotels here was not exactly scientific. She later on had to resort to a genuine ‘uzhichil’ centre in the district for proper treatment.
This is not an isolated experience for many tourists and natives who opt for ‘sukha chikitsa’ without any proper guidance. People who go for such treatments largely depend on the internet or their travel agents and are unable to make informed decisions owing to lack of information centres from the government’s end. On the absence of such information centres, Gurukkal Sudhakaran T, president, Kozhikode District Sports Kalaripayattu
Association, says, “First of all there is a huge difference between the ‘uzhichil’ provided by ayurveda centres and Kalaripayattu centres. One of the major reasons for the absence of such information centres is the government’s lack of awareness about the right kind of ‘uzhichil.’”
Sudhakaran, who is also the author of the book ‘Shastriyamaya Kalari Uzhichil, opines that most of the ayurveda centres in the city do not follow the scientific technique of ‘uzhichil.’
“Technically speaking, ‘uzhichil’ is not a part of ayurveda treatment. This is a misconception that the government also has and for the same reason the information centres set up by the Tourism Department do not direct people to the right place, which results in grave consequences. If all the so-called ayurveda ‘uzhichil’ centres are ready for examination regarding the style and technique they use, it can be proved that nearly 90 per cent of them are not based on any scientific study. It is pure business for them.”
It is also found that travel agents have a major role to play in directing the tourists to some of these centres.
“’Uzhichil’ has lost its essence today as these travel agents build a good rapport with some of the leading hotels and resorts to attract tourists for such treatments,” says retired District Medical Officer M K Madhavan Nambiar. He goes on to add that the government has shown a passive approach in providing the right kind of information in this regard.
“The government is only particular about completing the official procedures when foreigners come for ‘sukha chikitsa.’ It is high time the government set up proper information centres in the state.”
Admitting that such information centres are absent in Kozhikode, District Tourism Promotion Council Secretary P G Rajeev says, “We have prepared a list of ‘uzhichil’ centres in the vicinity to help the tourists approach the DTPC office.”
He further says that most of the tourists are given ‘sukha chikitsa’ facilities in hotels or resorts where they stay. Therefore, they do not approach the DTPC to collect further information. Coming down heavily on the laxity on the part of the Tourism Department in conducting scientific studies to improve their understanding on ‘uzhichil,’ the oldest woman Kalari trainer in the state and Kalari Gurukkal of the Kadathanad
Kalari Sangham in Vadakara, Meenakshiyamma, says, “For the past several decades we have been giving ‘kalari uzhichil’ for both tourists and natives. Most of our clients were victims of unhealthy ‘uzhichil’ treatments in major hotels.
According to her, profit-oriented businessmen and ignorant officials in the Tourism Department malign traditional ‘kalari uzhichil,’ which has a great legacy.
Accepting that there are no information centres to guide tourists on the right kind of ‘sukha chikithsa,’ Planning Officer with the Tourism Department in Thiruvananthapuram, A Udayakumar, says,
“There are general information centres set up by the Tourism Department in all the districts. However, there are no experts to give them advice on ‘sukha chikitsa’ and the difference between ayurveda and ‘kalari uzhichil.’ But we do have a list of accredited ayurveda centres which we contact before directing tourists to the particular centres.”