herbs used for both grow in abundance in Kerala's moist climate,
many of them in the hilly, forested areas of the hinterland where
they are harvested by tribal people. Every town and village in Kerala
has its ayurvedic pharmacy where the medicinal plants, fresh and
dried, are sold.Ayurvedic practice in Kerala places special emphasis
on message and is claimed to be particularly beneficial for those
suffering such chronic ailments as arthritis and rheumatism. The
type of oil used in massage differs according to the ailment being
treated, but ranges from castor and neem to mustard and camphor.
To these are added various powdered herbs, nuts and bark. The ayurvedic
practitioner may conduct the massage using the palm of the hand,
a cloth or a poultice of herbs wrapped up in a cloth-it all depends
on the type of condition being treated.
massage is also used on trainee dancers and students of Kalaripppayatt,Kerala's
traditional form of martial art. The guru massages the student's
head and shoulders with his hands, but uses his feet to stretch
and flex the student's legs and back-flexibility being essential
to classical dance and martial art.
an occasional ayurvedic massage, something offered at tourist resorts
all over Kerala,is relaxing, but to reap any long term benefits
necessitates rather more dedication-usually a 15 day or even a 41
day commitment which may involve certain dietary abstentions and
as well as regular massages from a qualified practitioner.
practitioners traditionally hailed from families where the knowledge
was passed from father to son over successive generations. These
days there are ayurvedic colleges throughout South India where students
train for several years. Properly qualified practitioners receive
accreditation fro the state government.