Nestled in the heart of Chamarajanagardistrict, Kollegal is a small town that has, more or less, become synonymous with black magic. Such is the reputation of Kollegal that people from neighbouring states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu seek out the Tantriks and Mantravadis in the town, to help solve a broad range of problems. However, visitors to this town are no longer queuing up just outside the doors of the Tantriks. Over the past few years, naati vydyaru (traditional healers) in Kollegal have become famous for the treatment they offer for stroke using pigeons, and what is more, they are making a handsome profit from the trade as well – charging a sum of Rs 10,000 to offer treatment.
Residents point to the ubiquity of posters around the town advertising the healers, and the recovery they can effect using the pigeons, called ‘Lakva parivala (stroke pigeon)’. Since pigeons are not protected by any wildlife protection legislation, these practitioners appear to have no problems in operating openly. Interestingly enough, in keeping with the many beliefs of the town, even these traditional healers offer their services only on some days of a week.
“There are several naati healers who offer treatment for stroke using pigeons. Patients from far-flung places come to Kollegal for treatment, and we give them medicines prepared using the blood and meat of pigeons,” said one of the healers.
Pointing out that his ancestors too were involved in the profession, the healer added, “Both my grandfather and father were well known for the treatment they offered with the pigeons. I am continuing the tradition. I am offering this as a service. I offer treatment free of cost to those who cannot afford to pay for it.”
There are other traditions that the healers abide by as well. “I offer treatment only on Tuesdays and Fridays, after offering puja to the family Goddess. It’s a family tradition,” he added.
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