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Can Caste Cure Cancer?

February 29, 2012  by: Paulose  Points: 15   Category: Health    Views: 638

Cruel hold of superstitious belief in caste system makes many people in India roll on the plantain leaves, containing leftover meals eaten by people of higher caste. This ritual,called Made Snana, is believed to cure skin diseases. Intellectuals in the country ask if it can cure skin diseases, what is the need for hospitals.


It is sad that even in this twenty-first century, the cruel caste system is oppressing people in India. Caste system has deep roots in every field of life. Caste plays a vital part also in health. Some people in India believe that caste was instituted by God. They think that birth in a particular caste and certain diseases are the consequences of “Karma” in the previous birth. They also believe that serving the higher caste people, particularly people of Brahmin caste, can free the low caste people from the sufferings of diseases. Their belief has led to many superstitions and rituals which are practised in India.

“Made Snana”, which literally means “bathing on leftovers,” is one of those blind superstitions. It is a kind of bathing by rolling on the leftovers on plantain leaves, left by the Brahmins. It is believed that this rolling on leftovers can heal many skin diseases. This is said to be a tribal ritual 1,500-year old, still alive among the people in Karnataka State, in South India. Recently this ritual has become the subject of fierce debate, demanding ban or continuation.

“Bathing on leftovers” is believed to cure skin diseases

“Bathing on leftovers” is an annual ritual performed at Champa Shasti festival, held in December at the Kukke Subramanya temple in Karnataka. This temple exists on a hill at a distance of 110 kilometers away from Mangalore. The festival is conducted by people of a tribe called Malekudiyas. Champa Shasti festival is celebrated for three days. Most important ritual of the festival is serving meals to Shivalli Brahmins in the temple premises. The caste of the Brahmins is supposed to be the highest caste. They are supposed to be given preference in the society. They would be served dinner during the temple festival. The Brahmins are expected to eat and leave some food as leftover on the plantain leaves, on which they are served meals. When the Brahmins leave the dining hall, the low caste people would enter and roll on the leftovers on the plantain leaves.

Rolling on the leftover on the plantain leaves is believed to cure skin-related diseases. People believe that this ritual fulfills the “wish” of the deity who grants cure.

Why do people want to continue this ritual?

Devotees say that the ritual gives them strength. VS Acharya, the state higher education minister of Karnataka, is a strong supporter of this traditional ritual. He says that the ritual can produce antibodies and help improve health.
Indian people believe that most of the skin diseases are caused by some reptile poison which is generally called “Nagadosha.” It is interesting to note that, after the ritual, many people get relief from their skin afflictions. People who got cured include some popular stars of the country.

Voice against the ritual of “Made Snana”

Recent years have seen the call for banning this controversial practice. Intellectuals demand to ban the ritual, saying that it is inhuman. Few weeks ago, heads of some Hindu religious institutions across Karnataka state condemned this ritual. They ask if this ritual can cure diseases of skin or skin cancer.

Although the government of Karnataka State had banned this ritual, it had to revoke the ban recently due to the pressure from devotees. Caste is a cruel system in India. Public awareness has to be created among the public about the ritual. Then only selfish people will not dare to exploit the downtrodden.



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