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.
"To be a snakecatcher your heart must be trusting and your body must be calm."Kanniapan, Irula snakecatcher
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.
"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.
Take a look around the Irula village in this 360° photo