Rehana Begum

Rehana Begum

“Snake Doctor”, Turuvekere, Tumkur

TUMKUR: “Where have you been hiding all these years,” chief minister N Dharam Singh reportedly asked Rehana Begum (48), who cures snakebite victims, while presenting her this year’s Rajyotsava award in Bangalore.

For this ‘snake doctor’, a resident of Turuvekere, treating snake bites is a family tradition. She doesn’t resort to slicing, squeezing or freezing to remove the venom. Her magic cure: ‘Kappu’ or kajal!

This ‘wonder treatment’, she says, is a family secret which has been handed down from generation to generation. She is the fifth generation ‘snake charmer’ who has now passed on this secret to her family her husband, three daughters, son and her brother.

But how does ‘kappu’ work as an antidote? That is my secret, she said. She prepares the ‘kappu’ herself and applies it to the eyes of the victim. In two hours, the victim is cured, she claimed.

She has a word of caution: The victim should be brought to her house within three hours of being bitten by the snake. He or she should not drink water.

More importantly, she said, the victim will have to be treated with ‘kappu’ at a location to the right of her house. “I have saved as many as 16,328 lives till date and kept a data of all,” she claimed.

Only three persons, who were brought after three hours of snake bite, have died, she said. Her ‘patients’ agree that she has a magic cure.

One Shivananja (23), an agriculturist of Mugulur, near Turuvekere, who was being treated, said over the phone that a snake bit him at 5 pm on Tuesday while working in the field and was brought to Rehana’s house by 7 pm. He said he was feeling better after the treatment.

Umashankar, who is a teacher, said he was bitten by a venomous snake seven months ago and got treated by Rehana Begum.

“I was taken to Begum who applied kappu. She thus saved my life, he said. With fame comes problems too.

She said people tried to lure her with money and gold to know her secret formula. The family tradition is not for sale, obviously.