Saturday, June 5, 2010

Honoring Tribal Healers

Earth Trust Nilgiris chose World Environment Day to hold a ceremony honoring tribal healers here in the Nilgiris. Vanya Orr, the Project Director, spoke eloquently about the plight of the world and its degraded environment due to poor human stewardship, and how much the world needs the knowledge of our indigenous healers. The event took place at the Women's Hostel of the YWCA in Ooty.
Malathi (R) gave me a ride and brought her friend Rose (L). Rose is a newly retired English Lit professor who does oral history work in remote tribal areas. She's very knowledgeable about tribal life, and it was really a privilege to get to know her.

Earth Trust's Sevakumar starts off the event. At the table are Malathi Mittal, a board member, Vanya Orr, and other dignitaries who work with tribal people.

This was the first healer to be honored. Each healer had a chance to speak.
Three Toda women singing for us
One of the women healers getting her trophy
One of the male healers

At the end of the ceremony, the healers were encouraged to bring any treatments they knew of to the panel of botanists, etc., so that trials could be done on their medicines. There was also discussion on how to get access to native plants in the forest from the Forest Dept. employees, etc. Apparently the Forest Dept. is giving away some land to tribal people, and Vanya was encouraging them to take advantage of that and to show how native plants can thrive on these small plots. Needless to say, the discussion is much larger and I didn't get a great deal of it because I only understand English.

It was a very encouraging event and discussion over lunch was stimulating.

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