- The main piece: Turmeric as a Medicine
“Okay, so. Whenever we had a sore throat or were sick, so my mom would boil milk with turmeric, sugar, and pepper. And we had to drink it.
“For all festivals, the women put turmeric on the feet, and then you put turmeric at doorways and thresholds to ward off infections. Before the wedding, we put turmeric…uh…all over the body and take shower. As a means of purifying, before the auspicious wedding ceremony. What is it in English? Whatever.”
- Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Etc.
“It happened a lot when I was growing up. It’s the most effective way to treat illnesses and common cold that we know of. And we follow it even today. Recent medical research…actually it’s funny, now the same turmeric comes in tablets in the aisles of medical stores. Looks like there must be some truth in the folklore. There’s ginger tablets, and there’s turmer
- The context of the performance
“Turmeric has antibiotic properties and anti-inflammatory properties. Who told me this? I don’t know…hmm… my grandmother, maybe? My mother, my grandmother. Oh, I said antibiotic but actually I meant antiseptic. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Ancient Indians probably didn’t know about antibiotics.”
- Finally, your thoughts about the piece
The use of turmeric in Indian society is extremely widespread. Indian food is known for its yellow-orange coloration from turmeric, turmeric is used to paint statues of Gods at Hindu temples, and it is used in this folklore piece medicinally and for purification purposes. Turmeric root is a common root in India, and its establishment in many folk practices incorporates a fruit of the land into the hearts of the people. The folk belief in turmeric’s medicinal and cleansing properties has long been established in India, and scientists are now starting to study its healing and protective properties and confirm that the folk belief has scientific truth to it. Scientific journal articles such as Kuttan, et. al.’s 1985 “Potential anticancer activity of turmeric” published in Cancer Letters, and Egan, et. al.’s 2004 “Curcumin, a major constituent of turmeric, corrects cystic fibrosis defects” published in Science, support the folk medicine belief.
- Informant Details
The informant is a middle-aged Indian-American female. She was born in India and grew up with her two sisters in a small town near a holy river in Andhra Pradesh, the Godavari River. After moving to the United States and raising her children there, she enjoyed reminiscing on her childhood in India and sharing stories of it with her children, so that they could see the differences in their upbringings and learn about their Indian heritage.