Like the herbal
medicine of India, which has turned into Ayurvedic, the Tripuri people
also possesses the trait to extract medicine from various plants, leaves, roots,
bark etc. to cure the illness of men as well as animals. In that context it is
assumed that the Ayurvedic form of medical treatment was originally
conceptualized by the Tripuri people vis-a-vis Kirata. The first Aryan migrants
had even no knowledge of Himalaya, as the earliest book of knowledge, Rig Veda
had mentioned only once about it; what to talk about the plants and herbs
growing in it. it was only in latest Veda, that is in Atharva, details of
herbal medicinal property was mentioned, that by the time they had come in
contact and civilisational exchanges had taken place between the Kiratas and
Methods and procedure that the Tripuri
tribe applies to cure disease or to heal a wound of man bear similarity with
other tribes of the northeast India. Two methods, viz, the folk medicine and
magic are generally applied in this respect. Both the methods are believed to be
primitive. While the magical method deals with the supernatural belief, the folk
medicine is based on natural or physical aspects. The Tripuris have a great
belief and reliance on magic and folk medicine.
The Ochai is generally the specialist in
the art of magic. With the performance of magical rites he is believed to be
able to cure a diseased man. At times he also plays the role of the village
physician. In some cases, they call in the Ochai for the treatment of disease.
After observing the diseased person, the Ochai comes to know why and how that
man has fallen ill. If any evil spirit be responsible for the illness, the Ochai
performs magical rites as a device of treatment to drive away the evil spirit
that caused the illness. To drive away the spirit the Ochai sometimes blows over
the patient with utterances of mantras which is said to be effective and
curative for the ailment. Otherwise, for this purpose, the Ochai performs
worship. In this worship he sacrifices fowls, pigeons, goats etc. and utters
mantras to remove the spirit. These mantras are different for different illness
and the animals to be sacrificed in the worship also vary.
Besides, for various diseases the Ochai
prescribes or applies folk medicine as a mode of treatment. When he ascertains
that the illness is caused by disease and not by evil spirits then he depends
upon the folk medicine. The village priest or the other men who performs the job
of medical practitioner in the village is very careful and practical not to leak
out the secrecy of the mode of treatment and the ingredients of folk medicine.
The mode of treatment varies according
to category and intensity of the disease. The folk medicine practitioner
prescribes medicine Of the basis of his diagnosis. Sometimes he prescribes an
ointment to rub on the body. Sometimes he gives folk-medicine to tie with the
body for a specific period. In a few cases he prescribes a medicine to swallow.
The medical practitioner also prescribes amulet prepared by himself to cure the
disease. This amulet contains various types of roots, leaves and many other
things. On many occasions this very amulet is sanctified with mantras.
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As the folk medicine practitioner solely
maintains his secrecy of the mode of treatment it is not at all possible to know
the names of the medicine. We can only put a few examples of treatment as done
by the practitioner. These are as follows:
(l) To remove the speck on the eye the
Ochai cum medical practitioner treats the patients by taking seven pieces of
onion. On the first clay of the treatment the Ochai bites a piece of onion and
gives a blow from the mouth on the affected eyes of the patient and thereafter
he utters charms and incantations. He recites charms and incantations seven
times and each time he bites a piece of onion and blasts a blow from the mouth.
On the second day the Ochai uses his charms and incantations on the affected
eyes of the patient five times in the aforesaid way. The next day the Ochai
performs the treatment three times in the similar way and the disease is cured.
If this treatment fails, they apply another mode of treatment for the same
disease of the eye. In this case they apply juice of a leaf of a specific tree
in the eye for three to four days and the disease is cured.
(2) If anybody suffers from fever, they
advise him to take the juice of a creeper, named 'Songdari' in Tripuri, with
(3) Those who suffer from loss of
appetite take a medicine for normalisation of the feeling of appetite. They
grind the seed of a little tree named 'Tharai' and take it with water.
(4) Sometimes they apply a composite
herb to stop the bleeding from a cut by grinding the leaf of 'Masundui', 'Sambrema'
and 'Durba' grass together.
(5) To cure throat pain they are used to
take the juice of the root of a tree named 'Tokkhi Seleng'. To collect this very
type of root a rule is to he followed. The root of the 'Tokkhiseleng' tree which
is bent towards west is to be collected for medicine by stopping the breath.
(6) A special device is applied for the
remedy of the ulcer caused at the backside of the children's ear. For this
disease they collect the mushroom on the dead tree named 'Muikhumu Kwchauk' and
after burning it rub the ash of that mushroom on the ulcer. It is noticed that
this medicine is effective to cure the disease.
(7) If eruptions spread out on the body
of a child a medicine prepared by mixing 'Til Oil' (sesame oil )and the juice of
the roots of a tree named 'Rou' is rubbed on the body.
(8) To get rid of the attack of the
freckles they apply a medicine prepared from the seed of a little tree named 'Muitapi'
to the affected place of the body for at least three to four days in a row.
(9) A medicine prepared by mixing the
coconut oil and lime water is prescribed to apply on the sore caused by burn.
(10) If eruption spreads in the facial
part of a person, the inner soil of the oven is applied for remedy.
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(11) When the little children
suffer from high fever they are rubbed with a medicine prepared from the juice
of a little plant called 'Sak Kuchang' to reduce the temperature.
(12) Some-time they prescribe the flower
and leaf of 'Khum-Jhumka' or Uribar (jaba) to be rubbed on the body alter
grinding it properly to reduce the high fever.
(13) If anybody suffers from tooth ache
he is attended by the Ochai. The Ochai keeps a cowrie and some durba grass on a
banana leaf in front of the patient. '[he Ochai thereafter spells out some
mantras with the aforesaid articles and remove the worms from the teeth. Thus
the Ochai can cure the tooth ache.
(14) Those who suffer from vomiting
tendency, indigestion or irregular clearance of bowels eat a salt after baking
it properly to remove the aforesaid troubles.
(15) If any child discharges liquid
yellow stool they generally prescribe the juice of a tree named 'Chethuang' or
powder of the seed of 'Thaithap' tree for treatment.
(16) When anybody suffers from stomach
flatulence they prescribe the fried leaves of a plant named Dukhupui' to eat. At
the time of colic pain the Ochai' rubs the stomach with mastered oil and the
water of 'Hukka' with enchanting mantras. The Ochai rubs the stomach of the
patient seven limes and every time of rubbing he spells mantras. It is noticed
that after the performance of this rite by the Ochai the pain of the stomach
(18) If the joint of a limb is bruised
or injured by any means they prescribe the leaf of a little tree named 'Dankalas'
and lime to rub on the injured part for remedy.
(19) At the time of fever if anybody
suffers from had headache they then fasten the forehead with a piece of cloth
putting the roots of plaintain in it.
(20) When a man suddenly feels
biting pain in the stomach then he takes ginger consecrated by mantras from the
Ochai as medicine for remedy.
(21) If anybody takes poison he is
then given to eat uncooked 'Berma' (dryfish) and egg mixed with water as
medicine to take out the poison from the stomach. They act promptly upon the
poison taken and causes vomiting of the poison. It is reported by the villagers
that the patient is bound to vomit as the uncooked dry fish and egg bear
(22) They are in belief that if
any child suffers from hydrocil then he is to get a bite on testicle by the fish
named 'Latiabarak' (latafish) for remedy.
(23) If within a month or more
after the delivery any mother discharges liquid stool she is given to eat the
root of a little tree named 'Samsunduru' (Lajjabati or touch me not) sanctified
by mantras as medicine.
(24) After the delivery if any mother's
breast milk does not emerge and the breast becomes stiff then a gourd leaf
soaked in hot water for sometime is to be rubbed on the breast and thereafter
the milk begins secreting and the breast turns normal.
(25) Sometimes at the lime of
suffering from the boil or carbuncle they give a medicine prepared with the leaf
of marigold, soap and dissolved lime for applying on the boil and that is
(26) For dysentery they prescribe a
medicine prepared by pounding the bark of a tree named 'Bothai' and sugar. For
this purpose the bark is to be soaked in water and then it is pounded with
sugar. This medicine is prescribed to eat always in empty stomach.
(27) When the children suffer from cold
they prescribe honey as medicine for remedy.
(28) After eating 'Muitu' (an esculent
root) if anybody feels itching in the throat he is given to chew betel leaf with
nut and lime to get relief.
(29) The smart pain caused by the
piercing of Singhi fish's prickle is removed by applying the pupil of the 'Puthi'
(30) If the fish bone prickles in the
throat of a man the Ochai then swallows a ball of the boiled rice three to four
times. Every time of eating the small rice ball he spells mantras. After the
performance of this rite by the Ochai the fish bone which pricked in the throat
of the man is removed. A mystery is noticed here that the man in whose throat
the fish hone. is prickled is not at all offered to eat the boiled rice balls
sanctified by mantras. Instead the Ochai himself eats the rice balls sanctified
by mantras to remove the fish bone and ultimately he gets through.
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(31) If a man having finished his bath
feels any troubles he then sprinkles salt, purified with mantras by the Ochai,
in the water where he took bath. It is reported by the villagers that sometimes
it occurs owing to the activities of the malevolent deity. So to get relief from
this sort of troubles caused by the malevolent deity they always depend upon the
Ochai who with his magical activities able to relive the man from his
(32) A medicine is prescribed for
the children when they suffer terribly from cough. This medicine is prepared
with the gall of 'Muisele' (python) and the seeds of orange. This medicine,
after grinding them properly, is offered for eating.
(33) When somebody feels troubles
from 'hiccough' then he is given the bark of 'Lambag' tree to tie in the hand
for relief. It is noticed that the bark is tied in the hand in a single breath.
(34) If urine of a person is not
discharged properly or his urinary tract pains then he is prescribed to eat the
juice prepared by pounding the bark of a tree for remedy. The name of the tree
is not disclosed to preserve the secrecy.
(35) If anybody suffers from scab then
he is prescribed to apply an ointment prepared from the bark of a tree named 'Abithi'
and sulphur for remedy. It can he mentioned here that this 'Abithi' is used for
catching the fish after poisoning the water. For this purpose they spread the
juice of the bark in the water and the water becomes poisonous and the fish of
the water floats up. That is why the name of the tree is 'Abithi'. In Kok borok
'Aa' means fish and 'bithi' means medicine.
(36) Among the Tripuris some
people know to heal the headache through magical performance. If anybody suffers
from headache then the man who knows the secret to cure the headache utters
mantras viz. 'Ongting' Ongknia, Ongchua du saha pha' etc. and rub mustard oil on
the head of the patient three times and at the time of nibhing oil he utters the
aforesaid mantras. Along with the mantras he spells the name of the patient.
(37) If anybody's nail is damaged by any
means then they prescribe the blood of 'Kuichcha'—a sort of eel to apply on the
damaged nail as medicine, for three days and it is cured.
(38) If sometimes an ant accidentally
enters inside the ear of a person then they pour some mustard oil inside the ear
to kill the ant.
(39) When some one is confounded by
suffering from high fever he is then prescribed to eat the blood of 'Kuichcha'
(eel fish) along with water as medicine to bring down the temperature.
(40) When a man feels pain to
discharge urine or his urine is not discharged properly then he is advised to
eat the seeds of the 'Tukma' plant as medicine. The seeds are to be soaked in
water and when they are fully wet then they are to be taken.
(41) For the illness caused by dog bite
the Tripuris till now are greatly dependent upon the medicine man or the Ochai
particularly those who are staying in remote places. If a man gets the bite of a
dog, he goes to the Ochai for treatment. The Ochai then makes three to four
balls of boiled rice. All these rice balls are sanctified with mantras and
prescribed to the patient to eat the blood of 'Kuichcha' along with water as
medicine to bring is fully cured with these rice balls sanctified by mantras by
(42) If any little child discharges
stool every now and then, then the loot of a tree (which is not to be disclosed)
is collected looking westward and by stopping the breath. Then the root is tied
on the ear of the child. When the stomach is cured and the discharge of stool is
normalised, the root is thrown into the water.
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(43) If anytime a bamboo-split or any
type of thorn pierces into the body, the Ochai gives the person a ripen banana
after sanctifying it with mantras to eat. And it is reported that after eating
the sanctified banana the split comes out within three hours.
(44) Among the Tripuris a few persons
are also able to join the broken hone in a human body. The man who knows the
medicine, takes the leaf of two types of trees, one kind of a creeping plant,
the bark of a tree, the inner flesh of a snail or the yolk of an egg and grinds
all these articles collectively. After grinding these articles the paste is
applied on the wound and it is bound with a piece of cloth for seven days. After
seven days the broken bone gets joined.
Another mode of treatment was also
noticed during the survey. Sonic persons in the remote places are also able to
join the broken hone of the human body only by tying a creeper around the wound.
The creeper which is tied on the affected spot is not disclosed.
Whatever be the name of these creepers,
barks and the leaves of the tree used for joining the broken bone, it is a fact
that in the interior places till now a few persons are present who are able to
join the broken bone within the body with these folk medicines.
(45) To set right the twisted joint of
the human body caused by any accident they prescribe folk medicine. They first
rub on the twisted spot the fat of pork. There after, a sickle is burnt and a
small hole is made on the spot with the sickle. Thereafter the leaves of a tree
named 'Kerang' and a special variety of rice named 'Kaon' are boiled in a bamboo
pipe collectively. A plaster is made and it is applied properly on the twisted
spot. This pound medicine s applied and bandaged with a piece of cloth for some
days for remedy.
(46) To get relief from the neck pains
they prescribe a medicine for the patient. The leaf of arum after being smeared
by the fat of pork is heated and the medicine-man touches the neck with it
repeatedly. If this medicine is applied repeatedly the pain is cured.
(47) Sometimes they prescribe the leaf
of 'Basok' tree to get relief from the suffering of cough. The leaves of 'Basok'
are to be boiled with ginger, black pepper etc. in water and this boiled juice
is taken for remedy of cough.
(48) When the little children suffer
from cough then they rub the fat of pig preserved for long on the chest and back
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From the aforesaid facts we can draw an
outline of the mode of treatment and remedy by the Tripuris of their sufferings
and diseases and also for their general health. It is to be mentioned that the
health of the Tripuris, particularly those who are staying in the remote places
are more or less sound. Since time immemorial they have been wholly dependent
upon their own mode of treatments.
Even in this last part of the twentieth
century it is noticed that at places at the time of suffering from any disease
they first depend upon their folk medicine and magical rites. After the
performance of magical rites and application of folk medicine if anybody fails
to cure himself of the disease then he wants to take modern medical treatment.
By any means, I cannot sneer at their
belief in folk medicine as they are successful in the treatment of diseases to
some extent. Though they mainly depend upon their own way of treatment to cure
the diseases that does not of course mean that the medicine applied or
prescribed by themselves are sufficient or accurate for remedy.
It was observed at the time of
investigation that a certain percentage of the Tripuri specially the older
generation of the rural Tripuri express their apathy for modern mode of
This may he so that religion has created
a hurdle against their acceptance of modern medical facilities. Since the major
portion of the rural Tripuri are credulous people, whenever they suffer from a
disease which is tint cured by the magical rites or folk medicine they come to
the conclusion that this disease is caused by a malevolent deity or by an enemy
who performs some magical deeds.
Another reason which disheartens the
rural Tripuris on modern medical treatment is the insufficient medical aid in
the interior. It is won h mentioning here that adequate numbers of primary
health centres or dispensaries are not there in the remote places where most of
Now-a-days the dispensaries which are
maintained in the remote areas are helpful to them to some extent. But there is
a version to go to them as the communication system from their areas is yet to
be improved. Let these people be provided with modern medical facilities. The
economically and educationally advanced group can only shoulder this great
responsibility with sympathy to free them of their ignorance which is based on
superstition and religion. The folk medicine which is practiced by them is
alright. But their traditional belief on the chronic diseases to have effected
by mischievous deities or evil spirits cannot be accepted particularly in the
modern era. So it is our responsibility to make them understand the good effects
of modern medical treatment with sympathy and co-operation and providing them
with medical facilities. Along with it the communication system has to be
improved to enable the people to come for the aid of modern medical facilities
available at their nearest places.
It is a hopeful sign that with the
upliftment of literacy the rural Tripuri, particularly the younger generations,
are realizing the importance and usefulness of modern medical treatment and are
extending their hands for it.
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