The Vaseline Healing Project


The Irula: India's Snakecatchers

An ancient tribe and a traditional way of life

The Irula people are India's snakecatchers. The Irula have rid villages of cobras, kraits and vipers for thousands of years. Armed only with a long stick and a cloth bag, husband and wife teams worked together to hunt venomous snakes. When your prey is so dangerous, it is never a good idea to work alone. The Irula are very comfortable working with snakes.

A snake rests its head on a villagers foot.

"To be a snakecatcher your heart must be trusting and your body must be calm."

Kanniapan, Irula snakecatcher

Embracing a new tradition

The older generations of the Irula rarely interact with modern-day India. When someone is born, they make offerings to a village tree. And when villagers fall ill, everyone prays to the tree for their recovery. The Irula have a deep respect for the ancient ways of their people.

The entire village gathered for a photograph.

"Today we are starting a new tradition... looking after your skin."

Poongkodi, Irula people, Kanniapan's wife

But in this most traditional of communities, families are embracing change - especially for the younger generation. Seeking medical care represents a new way: a more reliable way of staying healthy and a better way of protecting livelihoods.

The Vaseline® Healing Project provided travelling clinics to diagnose and treat skin conditions of the Irula, setting a new tradition for generations to come.

A preview of a 360 degree photograph of an Indian village.

Take a look around the Irula village in this 360° photo

Back to the Healing Project in India

Through the Vaseline® Healing Project we have helped heal the skin of

4,309,137 people

Our target is to help 5,000,000 people affected by poverty or emergencies by 2020.

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