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The Toothache Tree

In places that traditionally have had to go without dentistry or dental treatment, you can see all sorts of superstitions pop up. Whether it is the use of a plant or prayer, or a concoction or a patron saint, every culture has some kind of way to try and alleviate the incredible pain that is associated with toothaches. In the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, there is a rather strange tree that is used in a last ditch effort to try and get through the pain of untreated tooth decay.

Toothache
Toothache

Vaisha Dev

The many, many different kinds of Hindu gods that are responsible for minor things (like the flow of a particular river, the fleece of sheep, or even toothaches) are called Devi. These Devi control minor aspects of life, and have interactions with humans, and can thus be prayed to and in other ways summoned and begged for help. Vaisha Dev is the spirit or God responsible for toothaches. The incarnation of this god is a tree stump. This stump is said to have been cut form a legendary tree known as Bangemudha. This sacred tree is said to have all sorts of magical and healing properties, and is not that different from the relics of the True Cross that spread throughout Medieval Europe. According to local superstition, nailing a coin to the tree stump will be received as an offering by Vaisha Dev, who will then relieve the faithful of their toothache. The stump is covered in coins many times over, and does not look like a stump at all, being entirely subsumed by tin coins.

Clever dentists
Clever dentists

Clever dentists

A dental hub has been built right around Vaisha Dev, with any dentist worth their salt in Kathmandu opening their offices in the intersection that the tree is located in. Not only dentists, but orthodontists also have set up shop in the area, just in case the prayers do not work, and you are willing to spend money on getting rid of that sore tooth.  

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Dental hygiene annual ticket on a discounted price
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