Madikeri: Today, the Kodagu district celebrates Kakkada Padinettu, the 18th day of the Kakkada month of the Kodagu calendar, which usually falls on August 3.
Maddu Puttu, a traditional sweet dish made from rice cooked in the juice of Maddu thoppu (Justicia wynaadensis), a medicinal plant found in the Western Ghats from Dakshina Kannada to Wynaad, East Nilgiris, and South Malabar Hills, is enjoyed on this day.
Eating Maddu Puttu on Kakkada Padinettu is an ancient Kodagu tradition that is still followed throughout the district. On this day, it is said that 18 different kinds of medicines are obtained from the succulent stems of a plant. A team of chemistry researchers on the medicinal values of Maddu Thoppu have identified the presence of polyphenols and flavonoids in the plant extract.
In fact, there was a research paper presented on the medicinal value of this plant titled ‘Phytochemical and antioxidant screening of J. Wynaadensis.’ It was submitted by Sudha Medapa, Geetha R.J. Singh and R. Vaishnavi. The paper was published in the African Journal of Plant Science in September 2011.
The only other publication, according to Sudha Medapa, is a patent on the cholesterol-lowering capabilities of the Maddu Thoppu by a US-based scientist named Subbiah (2002), who claims that the plant extract lowers cellular cholesterol and cholesteryl ester concentration.
While the Maddu Puttu is prepared using Maddu Thoppu (medicinal leaf Justicia wynaadensis), it is enjoyed for its medicinal value and taste. It is also a source of entertainment for children since Maddu Puttu causes one’s urine to become red when consumed. Since this brightest red urine comes from eating a lot, kids usually eat a lot to acquire the brightest red possible. At the very least, youngsters will consume something nutritious while simultaneously being entertained.
In fact, many Kodavas play a prank on their non-Kodava friends who are unaware of this phenomenon. They give these naïve non-Kodava friends Maddu Puttu without warning them about the red pee and the next day, these friends say they want to go to see a doctor as they might be peeing blood. The truth is revealed after a hearty laughter.