chapter  7
16 Pages

The leprosy patient and society

Colonial Orissa, 1870s–1940s
WithBiswamoy Pati, Chandi P. Nanda

Contemporary scholarship on leprosy in colonial India has seen social historians of medicine focusing on several aspects of the disease. Leprosy patients from different parts of the state and beyond thronged the gate of the palace in the hope of receiving the Bhramaramari medicine. Changes in leprosy patients’ place in society are apparent in the 1920s. Not only had leprosy become a curable disease, but Gandhi’s ideas and writings on working with leprosy sufferers undoubtedly played a part. The colonial perception of leprosy and leprosy patients underwent some changes by the 1920s when leprosy became curable. The palm-leaf manuscripts and the popular oral tradition suggest that of the kings who ruled before the seventeenth century had learnt in a dream about the usefulness of the Bhramaramari plant as a cure for leprosy, and was ‘advised’ to popularize the plant for the welfare of the people.