Ranchi: Sporting skin tattoos may be a fad for English footballer David Beckham or film star Saif Ali Khan, but children in Jharkhand wear them around their navels to be protected from stomach ailments - though unwittingly.
A tribal child in Jharkhand on the 21st day of his life undergoes a painful puncturing of skin around the navel with a hot sickle; the belief is that it will protect the child from various diseases.
Now, doctors have given medical approval to the tribals' belief, saying it indeed builds up an 'immuno-modulation' that protects against some, not all, stomach ailments.
"I have seen tattoos around the navels of many of my tribal patients. Though the tribals practice it as a tradition, the method is medically proved and it protects the spleen during childhood," contends eminent paediatrician Dr Ajit Sahay.
Sahay says that this was established over a decade ago, when doctors including neuro physician K K Sinha discussed the issue.
The Jharkhand Welfare Department has even brought out a book detailing tribal home cures that use 169 plants and trees to help with heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure, common cold, stomach ailments and snake-bite.