‘Karkadakam’, the Season to Feel the Therapeutic Touch of Ayurveda
Kochi: In the past, Malayalam month of ‘Karkadakam’ was rather seen as the season of penury which is also called Panja Masam (lean season), a month considered inauspicious to start anything new. However, traditions and practices have changed with the passage of time to keep the people in good spirits. Consuming Karkadaka Kanji (medicinal porridge) and undergoing Karkadaka Chikitsa (Ayurveda rejuvenation therapy) – to find oneself in the pink of health ahead of the Onam festival season which follows – have become a kind of a fad of late in the State. Kerala, being the hotspot of tourism, is now exploring new avenues of opportunity to leverage and monetise our rich and healthy traditions and practices and in-depth knowledge of Ayurveda. With Karkadaka Chikitsa gaining popularity over the years, Ayurveda practitioners across the State have started offering rejuvenation therapies.
As yet another ‘Karkadakam’ approaches, we meet some of the leading practitioners of Ayurveda in Kerala to find out the benefits and usefulness of the rejuvenating ‘Sukhachikitsa’ being offered during this lean season, and the popularity it has gained over the years, drawing more and more people from various cross sections of society who prefer to undergo it
According to Ayurveda practitioners in Kerala, a small intervening period of two seasons – Rithu Sandhya, as they call it, causes changes in human body leading to certain health problems. They believe that inherent health issues get aggravated during this time marked by overlapping of two types of weather, rainy and sultry. Karkadakam is the time when Kerala witnesses heavy and incessant rainfall, which worsens the health issues of the people. “That is how the concept of Karkadaka Chikitsa gained popularity here,” says Dr. Sreelal Alathur, Head, Research and Development, Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala.
Many people may not know that there is no mention of Karkadaka Chikitsa in the sacred texts of Ayurveda, he adds. However, Ayurveda physicians have observed that indigestion is common among people during the monsoon season. “That is why Ayurveda encourages intake of light food during Karkadakam month. Here we have it as Karkadaka Kanji. It has become an essential part of Kerala Ayurveda treatment,” Dr. Sreelal says.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of people seeking Karkadaka Chikitsa, especially among non-resident Keralites who come to Kerala during June and July. “The treatment practice has become a routine for many people and they even make advance booking for undergoing Chikitsa at our hospital,” he adds.
Besides visiting Malayalis, the practice is also common among aged people of the State. “Many of them have their own health issues and they find it relaxing to undergo such a treatment during the month,” testifies Dr. Sreelal. Psoriasis, a health condition marked by patches and eruptions on the skin, is found among many people during rainy season in Kerala. Similarly, Rheumatoid Arthritis is also commonly reported during this cold weather, he adds.
Vaidyaratnam does not offer any specialised treatment packages for visitors during Karkadakam. “Under the ashtavaidya legacy of Vaidyaratnam we do not offer any particular treatment packages simply to increase the turnover of the hospital.” However, the doctors at the hospital, Dr. Sreelal says, “will analyse the health issues of visiting patients during Karkadakam and treat them accordingly.
The medicinal porridge, Karkadaka Kanji, is served to inpatients of the Vaidyaratnam Nursing Home in Thrissur during the month. While the monsoon season is considered a dull season causing health problems, it is also an ideal time to go through Ayurveda therapies and treatment, according to experts in the field. Dr. Pratibha Madhusudanan, MD, Sree Chitra Ayurveda, opines that the month is ideal for undergoing Panchakarma and related Ayurveda therapies.
“The Monsoon season in Kerala is characterised by relatively pollution-free atmosphere, low ambient temperature which reduces the fatigue resulting from Panchakarma therapies and high relative humidity and moisture which helps opening of the pores and softening of the skin, thereby resulting in easy absorption of various medicines administered through Keraleeya Ayurveda Chikitsa Karmas,” explains Dr. Pratibha.
According to Ayurvedic system of medical treatment, she adds, “Stiffness and pain in joints, biliousness and chest congestion occur due to the difference in equilibrium of Thridoshas (three dynamic natural forces) – Vatham, Pitham and Kapham, which together go on to define the very nature of human body. These three symptoms manifest profoundly even in people considered physically fit during this time of the year. That’s another reason why Karkadaka month is the ideal time to remove impurities from body through Panchakarma treatment,” she says.
Ayurveda physicians claim that cleansing of body as part of Karkadaka Chikitsa can help regain vitality. Dr. Pratibha says that it is mostly middle-aged working class who prefer to undergo Karkadaka Chikitsa. “I see a lot of people working in IT field coming to take Panchakarma and Ayurveda treatment these days,” she says.
With a renewed focus on increasing demand for Ayurveda therapies, hospitals across the State, both in the private and public sectors, are offering standardised and authentic ayurveda treatment and therapies to the takers.