Padmasree Lakshmikutty -  A soul connecting the wisdom of centuries

          The heartily smiling face of lakshmikutty filled the pages and screens of Indian media recently, for she received India's 4th highest civilian honor, The Padmashree. But how did a 75 year old tribal woman hailing from the deep forests of kallar ( Trivandrum district , Kerala state ) come to the notice of the nation ? 

For the past 50 years Lakshmikutty has been practicing traditional medicine and has been a pioneer in poison healing. Her skills were passed onto her by her mother who was a traditional medicine practitioner and midwife. Lakshmikutty Amma promises that nature stores all kind of remedies.

and even fish and animals have medicinal capacities to heal.

Lakshmikutty can identify more  than 500 varieties of plants and knows the benefits of each and how to use them effectively in healing different diseases.  She can recollect all these learning’s and  prepare medicinal treatments, ie nothing was written down . recently  the  Kerala  Forest Department has decided to compile a book based on her expertise, thus these invaluable data can be passed onto generations.

She gained further expertise in snake poison treatment after the death of their son due to a snake

bite. Lakshmi Amma elucidates that giving the medicine at the earliest is important in poison treatment. Every year, thousands of people cross the forest to reach her home, a small hut surrounded by large number of medicinal herbs. Mostly they come for treatment , but you can catch sight of a number of foreigners curiously visiting to witness her healing methods using mantras and medicinal plants. But unpaved roads and dense forest area which habitats tiger and wild elephants are a peril that people face on their journey.

She was the first female from her tribe ( kaani)  to go to school and successfully complete education till grade 8. Further she couldn't study due to financial difficulties. It's a wonder how with an 8th standard education she could write poems, Nadanpaatu  (folklore songs), dramas, teach at Kerala 

Folklore Academy and speak with such ease and soothe. Her own words are the answer " we used to drink from the wild streams and listen to the music of the flowing rivers, all our tribal rituals included music and dance in praise of God , these songs and hyms were written by our forefathers and New additions and reconstructions were done by the next generations.  Forest is Gods most complex art , you can  learn music, drama, literature , medicine and everything under the sky here", reveals lakshmi Amma, Vanamuthassi             ( grandmother of the jungle ), as she is fondly called is definitely a symbol of humanity. In our lives that becomes exceedingly confined to concrete jungles she enlightens us on the treasures  that the forest stores.  An icon of dignity, independence and confidence, she inspires the tribal people to go onward in spite of all

their unpropitious situations. In the present age where money replaces all moral values and empathy, Lakshmikutty  makes us optimistic with her selflessacts of saving people in need and passing on her wisdom to forthcoming generations. 

The present day society looks at these tribes as certain outdated people who hasn't evolved over the time. They find the rituals these people follow as primitive. But the reality is that, these  people who knows how to worship the greatness of mother nature are actually the most progressive, as the human beings other than them are only thriving technologically. If we choose to believe that people of tribal origin are outdated in terms of cultural evolvement, we must first analyze our failure in becoming a component of this eco system.                                            Shruthi Nair
















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