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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

INDIGENOUS CHILD CARE PRACTICES OF TRIBAL MOTHERS IN SANTAL TRIBE OF MAYURBHANJ, ORISSA*

Pritishri Parhi**

INTRODUCTION Indigenous knowledge is local knowledge, that is unique to a given culture and society. This knowledge is the information base for the society. Codified in the language of the society, it facilitates communication and decision making. Indigenous knowledge is dynamic, it changes through indigenous creativity innovativeness as well as through contact with other knowledge system. Indigenous knowledge is passed down from generation to generation usually by word of mouth. Today because of its oral tradition, as well as the introduction of new technologies, the preservation of indigenous knowledge is at risk unless it is documented. Being inspired by the uniqueness of the indigenous knowledge, the author tempted very much to collect some of the indigenous practices prevailing among the tribals of Santal tribe in Mayurbhanj District of Orissa, relating to child care practices because of the following considerations. Parents the world over are interested in the well-being of their children. Almost every phase of family living affects the child. Child care must be considered as an important part of total programme for improved living . * Lecturer, College of Home Science, Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar. ** Paper presented in National Seminar on "Indigenous Technologies for sustainable Agriculture" organised by National Council of Development Communication, Varanasi, in collaboration with Division of Agricultural Extension, I.A.R.I., New Delhi. But large number of children die every year from causes that could be prevented by the parents if they had been taught the healthful way to care for their children. Child care begins with the mother when she isn't pregnant, what she eats and how she cares for herself affects her chances to have a healthy strong baby. She needs to know how to feed and care for the infant now and when to wean the child and how to properly feed and care for the toddler after weaning. The mortality rate in children between the ages of two years and four or five is great in many areas. When the children are no longer given breast milk, they are often fed only a diet of starchy gruel with no protein for which protein deficiency in preschool children is one of the great nutritional problems with which Government around the world are now concerned. Child care emphasizes good nutrition in relation to progress of the child in school. It includes children's needs and how to meet these leads from infancy to adolescence. Parents need to understand that to give their children better living, both the home and the community must increasingly become healthful places to rear children. If there is not proper food to eat, houses have no windows, if they are unsanitary, if they have no latrines, if water for their family is unsafe and scarce, if there are flies and mosquitoes everywhere, the children have little chance to grow healthy and strong. Whether the mother is categorized as tribal or non-tribal, urban or rural, she is constantly attempting to keep her child healthy either through conventional child care practices. Since the tribal mothers have better opportunities and greater exposure to indigenous child care practices over conventional methods the location for the study was selected through purposive sampling technique and the data were collected through participant observation method and key informant technique. Some of the practices which seem to be conspicuous and interesting were collected which are as follows: 1. FOR EASY DELIVERY a) Wearing of the root of a young tamarind plant uprooted by hand around waist region of the body of the mother at the time of delivery pain hastens easy delivery. b) Applying the flower/plant of Gloriosa superba (Family Liliaceae) after properly ground in a paste form at the time of delivery pain on the belly portion of the mother relaxes the muscles promoting easy delivery. c) When the delivery pain is acute, the castor oil is massaged gently on the belly which causes easy delivery and immediately relieves the pain. d) It is also adopted by some women folk that tightening the belly portion by means of a cloth in a gentle manner and then swinging the belly lightly relieves all complications and pain during delivery. 2. PRACTICES FOLLOWED AFTER CHILD BIRTH a) After the child is born, immediately normally an old lady called Traditional Birth Assistant (Dhai) cuts the umbilical cord of the child kept on a coin with the help of a barber's knife (Khura) or by sharpen edge of a Samuka (Pandara). Then ash of burnt goat cake (Chheli lendi in Oriya) is put on the umbilical cord for its drying and immunization against any attack by micro-organisms. It is done regularly two times a day till the cord is fallen, thus separated from the body. Contrary to the above, also hot fomenting by fire with the help of oily thumb of right hand is done on the umbilical cord for quicker drying and its separation from the body. As long as the cord remains alive and intact with the body, the bathing of the baby is strictly prohibited for the Santals. b) The child is not breast-fed for about two days thinking that the milk is poisonous and concentrated. Instead the child is fed a honey-water mix as its food. But after two days the tribes encourage breast-feeding till next issue or after three to four years of birth. c) Massaging the baby by mustard oil boiled with garlic twice a day is done -to strengthen muscles and to prevent against cold and cough. 3. PRACTICES FOLLOWED FOR HEALTH CARE OF SANTAL CHILDREN i) Stem of Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi) with garlic petals and purified Kochila seeds (Strychnos nux-vomica) are worn around the neck or waist of Santal babies to prevent against cold, cough and evil spirits. Juice of tulsi leaves with honey given to children for cure against cold, cough and fever (essential oil of garlic and alkaloid of Kochila seed probably have the medicinal value against diseases of children). ii) Against the viral infections like chicken pox, small pox and measles, seeds of Harida (Tarminalia chebula) and root of Moti-saga and Cannabis sativa tied to left or right arm of children in black thread during spring season particularly on Saturday or Thursday as a preventive. iii) The petiole of betel leaf smeared with caster oil and applied to the anus of the constipative baby to facilitate motion, i.e., passing of stool. iv) Against severe headache, acute fever and for reduction of body temperature, the paste prepared out of Dalchini (Cinamomum xylanicum) is smeared on the forehead of the baby. It gives an instant relief to the child. v) Gall stone of a cow called "Gorochana" is used as a medicine. It is added with mother's milk or honey and given to the children to cure indigestion, hiccups, flatulence, and liver malfunction. It is a very common practice. vi) "Jastimadhu" i.e. stem part of Glycyrrhiza glabra is roughed on a clear polished stone and given with "Gorochana" for prevention against indigestion and used as a carminative, improves vigour, voice and skin colour of Santal children. It is also given with honey to cure jaundice. Decoction prepared with milk and sugar given to weak babies and anemic babies increases iron content of the blood. vii) On an auspicious day namely, "Bata-Usha" the children of the household and neighbourhood are given gentle strokes with Bajramuli plants (Sida cordifolia). It gives as it is believed, longevity and vigour to young child and delays the aging process. The root powder, the seeds and the decoction of the entire plant also if taken continuously with lukewarm milk for a fortnight gives miraculous recovery of liver weakness. It was collected with a religious rite so that during "Bata- Usha" time it is cheaply available which we have perhaps forgotten and currently it has been reduced to gentle stroke. viii) A very useful plant to the tribals called "Puruni" (Boerhovia diffusa) is used in different forms. The entire plant especially the root are ground and given to the children with food for rejuvenating the body cells. The leaf juice with honey given to children against body weakness, cough, jaundice and liver troubles. ix) For the children suffering from the loss of memory, low intelligence, sore throat, hoarse tone, an instant improvement has been marked by chewing the rhizome of the plant called "Bacha" (Achorous calamus) and taking its powder with honey or lukewarm milk at the time of full lunar eclipse. CONCLUSION The information as collected above are by interviewing and observing the tribal women folk in Santal areas of Mayurbhanj District. The informations have been gathered are based on their age-old practices being followed. Some of the cases/practices need further scientific analysis to establish their authenticity by proper reasoning and further study. REFERENCES 1) Agricultural Extension - A reference manual, F.A.O, Rome, 1972. 2) CIKARD News letter, Vol-I, No. 1, Iowa State University.
Source: http://www.ciesin.org/kiosk/publications/94-0031.txt
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