Last man to 'bat' for alternative medicine

Tirumalappa prepares medicine for children. DH Photo

A resident of Panasam­aka­nahalli, he believes it is his duty to preserve the tradition of offering the medicine to malnourished childr­en.  

He inherited the knowledge of treating the illness, from his father Gopalappa, who in turn learnt it from his father Obaleshappa. Babies aged one year or below are usually affected by ‘Guvvenu’ or ‘koyyaroga’, caused by malnutrition. It hampers their growth; their skin develops wrinkles and becomes dry; they suffer from diarrhoea and become physically and mentally weak.

The parents bring these children to Tirumalappa’s residence where the treatment is free of cost.

He examines the baby first and then hunts for bats in dilabidated buildings, old temples and in the forest. He makes an oven out of mud from the ant-hills and uses a particular type of plant as firewood and cooks a mixture of leaves and roots in oil, along with the bat.

The oil is applied on the ailing baby. The residents believe the treatment is very effective.  
Though Tirumalappa strongly favours continuing the practice, he is challenged not only by his children, but also by the near extinction of bats. Bats are not able to survive in the concrete buildings and eroding forest cover.

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