Monday, 16 June 2008

Warli Tribal Woman and Cow Dung

Warli woman uses cow dung wash on new bamboo container and baskets
for their maintenance. There are no special classes or schools
to learn several uses of cow dung. The child here is learning by experience
and example, not by scholarly treatises and expert discourses.
The western (and the westernized) societies can only think of production
and use of, even local material such as cow dung on a mass scale; obviously
to keep control on the mass society and profit through centralized power.
Cow dung as building material
(This excerpt is taken from my research paper, “Tribal Housing Buddha and the Art and Science of Karvi Hut”. See LINK for full Text and Images)

Some time ago the Indian Petro-Chemicals Limited (IPCL), Baroda came out with a chemical for waterproofing treatment of mud walls. The offer came through 'Council for Advancement of Rural Technology' (CAPART), Delhi to use it on experimental basis, at 90% subsidy on its cost, on the first 50 houses built for the tribal, under RLEGP. Being sceptical about such industrial products about its cost, economy, and the after-effects etc. we declined. Instead, we suggested using traditional cow dung wash on the walls. The chemical was highly toxic. Thankfully, IPCL had a good sense of withdrawing entire stock from the market, perhaps in good time.

Traditionally the tribal and villagers use cow dung for finishing the mud floors and mud walls. They also use it for the grain silos made of mud mixed with cow dung, or apply it on bamboo silos. People must have observed that pest does not affect the grain stored in such a condition. From the Vedic times, ‘Agnihotra’ – a ritual with fire – uses cow dung, which is believed to purify environment. Are these superstitions? Perhaps the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and IPCL could divert some of their resources to understand cow dung. We should not be surprised, though, with use of chemical fertilizes and pesticides even the cow dung may also found to be ‘fouled’!

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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

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