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About 15% patients visited Ojhas first for treatment.
(%) Delay (in hours) < 2 72 (94.7) 4 (5.3) 2-5 91 (79.1) 24 (20.9) > 5 3 (17.6) 14 (82.4) Local treatment Given 143 (77.2) 42 (22.8) Not given 18 (78.2) 5 (21.8) First care seeking Ojhas (traditional healers) 18 (58.1) 13 (41.9) Health facility 148 (83.6) 29 (16.4) Immobilization Done 13 (100.0) 0 (0.0) Not done 153 (78.5) 42 (21.5) Tourniquet Applied 138 (66.3) 40 (33.7) Not applied 28 (93.3) 2 (6.7) Anti-venom serum Given 128 (78.5) 35 (21.5) Not given 38 (84.4) 7 (15.6) Variable Total [chi square], d.f.
Patients wear papers containing lines and drawing from traditional 'mantra' after collecting from local Ojhas or traditional healers.
"The Ojha told the Bodo youths that till the Brahmas were there, nothing right would happen in the village and his medicines would not work," Kandakar claimed in a conversation with this correspondent.
Daimary recounts an incident of May last year where an old couple was beaten to death in Udalguri after a local Ojha failed to cure a young woman of jaundice.
Ironically Ojha nee Kaviraj or the exorcist who is mainly seen behind branding witches in tribal villages is identical to witches when it comes to practicing his craft.
Since the Santals and the mainstream population has co-existed side by side over centuries, it was of interest to determine whether the medicinal practices, particularly the medicinal plants used by the two groups of practitioners, namely the Ojhas and the Kavirajes have influenced each other, or still remain as separate entities.
The elderly persons, particularly among the mal-vaidyas and the ojhas were more knowledgeable as to their ethnomedicinal practices, which have been practiced from time immemorial.
However, such traditional practices still exist and are being practiced by the mal-vaidyas or ojhas. Typically, the traditional medicinal practitioner uses a single or a combination of medicinal plants with other items, which is administered either orally or topically (Table 7).
Kavirajes are also found among the fifty or more different tribal populations of the country, where they are known by different names like Kavirajes, Vaidyas, or Ojhas. The distinctive feature of a Kavirajes' treatment is that they primarily use whole plant or plant parts of medicinal plants.
Detailed information was collected on twenty six medicinal plants used by the ojhas to treat various ailments.
The roots, tubers or rhizomes of six plants were also us ed by the ojhas. Flowers were leas t used; the flower of only one plant was used as remedy.
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