Grandmother of the Jungle: Lakshmikutty, a tribal woman of Kerela gets Padma Shri

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Grandmother of the Jungle: Lakshmikutty, a tribal woman of Kerela gets Padma Shri

Lakshmikutty is a tribal woman from Kollar forest area at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerela. She received the country’s fourth highest honors Padma Shri Award for her breakthrough in practicing traditional medicine.

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Lakshmikutty, a 76-year old tribal woman who received Padma Shri Award in 2018 belongs to a tribal settlement, deep in the forest of Kollar in Thiruvananthapuram district.

She is a poet, a poison healer, and a teacher at Kerela Folklore Academy. Lakshmikutty offers herbal treatment for poisoning she said that she had acquired the knowledge of herbal treatment from her mother, who worked as a midwife.

”I can prepare about 500 medicinal treatment from memory. Till now I have not forgotten them. But people come here for poison treatment mainly snake or insect bites” she said.

In 1995, Lakshmikutty received the ”Naattu Vaidya Rathna” award (award for naturopathy) from the Kerela government.

”Till then people used to come here after hearing me from those I have already cured. Before 1995 people visited me from far off places but the number increased after I won the award”, she said.

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Lakshmikutty, as a kid became the only tribal girl from her area to attend school. Every day she walked 10 kilometers with two other boys to get to school. She studied till class 8 as her school did not have higher education. At the age of 16, she married her cousin Mathan Kaani, with whom she had a deep friendship.

”He was with me in all my decisions and achievements. He used to tell me that I can achieve my goals even without him because I was a strong woman. He was the perfect partner from the day I got married at the age of 16 until he died”, she said.

Lakshmikutty and her husband provided their children with a good education so they will not face the same challenges as she underwent. Hard luck struck her family where her eldest son was killed by a wild elephant.

Her younger son also died in an accident. Her other son is working in Railways. However, Lakshmikutty Amma has been awarded so many honors lives in difficult circumstances. It is difficult for the patients to come to Amma as there is no road to her home.

Amma’s dream is to convert her hut, where she lives into a hospital so that people who require long term treatment can stay there.

People fondly refer to her as ‘Vanamuthassi’ (Grandmother of the Jungle in Malayalam) and she gives lectures on natural medicines at various institutions across the southern states.

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