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It was my yearly visit to my native place this year in September with my two year toddler. She is at an age when the curiosity to understand the world and experience new things is at the peak. We have a small and lovely colony house with a big terrace, a porch and a beautiful garden with a variety of flowers and fruits to boast of. So, my daughter was as good as in a natural heaven. Staying in the city has reduced her interaction with nature to a bare minimal and the space she gets there to play is also measured. So for her the “Nani ka ghar” is a big paradise where she can run around in the courtyard, smell the flowers, climb the stairs to the terrace, pluck the fresh guava, talk to the wandering cows and buffaloes, feel the natural breeze unadulterated. I could just keep watching her engrossed in her own world – so happy, so charged.
In one such excited attempt to jump from this stair to that, she couldn’t control her balance and had a big fall on the ground. The ground was a part of parking with a cement flooring. In her failed attempt at adventure, she got her knee scratched and the wound started bleeding. Obviously, she started wailing and everyone in the home gathered around her. Before I could even have a good look at the wound, everyone started giving their advises and options about how to treat it. Add to that the loud screaming and crying of my daughter, it was complete chaos.
I don’t know what struck me - the place, the mood of the moment or the ingrained Indian culture in my mind, I straight away took my daughter next to a patch of garden. My father had just watered the patch where he had grown roses and the dark black soil was still wet. I picked up spoonful of that clay, made a small round cake of it and pressed it against my daughters wound. The moment I did it, there were sharp gasps of surprise. As if I had started a debate show, everyone started asking me to remove that mud from my daughter’s skin immediately. What if it causes infection, it might poison the wound, it can be harmful – and what not.
But two people who were actually enjoying and smiling were - my daughter and my grandmother. As if she had been touched by a magical lotion, my daughter was feeling completely cool and liked the sensation of that wet soft clay on her skin. Her bleeding stopped after a while and she started the game again within minutes. I kept the clay attached to her knee but her scratch was also almost gone. Ignoring the taunting remarks of my “nosy” aunt, my grandmother said in a voice audible to all – “Mere aangan ki mitti me bahut taakat hai”.
Indian black regur soil or black clay as we call it is full of lots of medicinal properties. One of the best options from our traditional Dadi ke nuskhe, it has been used since generations to treat and cure many types of wounds and skin issues. Clay has that extraordinary ability to attract the toxins and impurities from human skin and body as the clay is electro negative and toxins are electro positive. Some may call it as superstition, but I choose to believe in my dadi and the generations of her wisdom about my aangan ki mitti. Some of the features of our soil I found out were:
Curing properties: - Because of its mineral contents which comes from decades of deposits of fertile river water and natural composition, it acts as antibacterial and antiseptic. Applying carefully externally, it can be used for healing of wounds. Its anti-inflammatory and is good refrigerant used to reduce the body heat. It also improves texture of the skin as it can be used as cosmetic as well.
Internal use: - Much of the research is still on about the internal use of clay. Taken internally clay is a powerful detoxifier, especially the Bentonite Clay, which can absorb heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and tin. Clay also provides minerals and trace minerals which prove very beneficial to our digestive system. Clay has colloidal properties that eliminate toxins and harmful substances from your body.
Many of its variants are available in Indian markets as well – like the all time favorite for girls – multani matti which is a great bleaching and cooling agent.
After that incident, I remembered even in my own childhood we used to apply the clay on our small wounds and scratches and the effect used to be cool and instant. So, applying the same clay on my daughters wound, I felt a sense of déjà vu. Really – Mere aangan ki mitti is great.
Note: My views about the black soil are based on my experience with the typical quality of soil I know. This cannot be a permanent solution to bigger problems. But we can surely try and use it like alternate therapies we use. A doctors opinion is always requested. For more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicinal_clay