The magical herbal garden of a 65-year-old Odisha farmer – The New Indian Express
Express press service
BHAWANIPATNA: In the small village of Nandol in Kalahandi, the house of Patayat Sahu is distinguished by its green glass roof. The garden developed by the 65-year-old villager boasts of a wide array of 3,000 medicinal plants and Sahu has grown them all on just 1.5 acres of land behind his house.
Juggling the roles of farmer and traditional healer, Sahu took particular care in growing these plants. “All I use is organic fertilizer to feed them. No chemical fertilizers have ever been used in my garden,” he says.
Sahu started learning traditional medicine as a hobby at a young age. He developed the medicinal garden behind his house 40 years ago and has continued to add new species of plants to it over the years. “My grandfather was a Vaidya (traditional healer). After finishing my studies, I learned traditional healing practices from him.
Moreover, I had access to many manuscripts on traditional healing practices and medicinal plants,” says Sahu, who is a farmer by day and Vaidya by night. But he doesn’t charge a fee to heal people and accepts whatever they offer. Medicines are mainly prepared from the plants and herbs in his garden.
Of the 3,000 species in his garden, he collected 500 species from different parts of India during his exhibition tours facilitated by the Odisha Medicinal Plant Board.
The rest was collected from different forests in Kalahandi. Its garden is home to rare species of plants like Ashoka, Lodhra, Bidanga, Sambarsingha, Rasnajadi, Tihudi, Bhin Kakharu, Maeda, Sarpagandha and Shatavari. Also, it has five varieties of Bhringraj, Pengu, Panikusuma, Rajapatha, Nagavel, Debanasan, Jaladimbiri and Jyotismati.
Sahu also cultivated all Dasamoola species which are used in many Ayurvedic medicines.
“Dasamoola herbs are also used to treat the Trinity during the Anasara period,” says Sahu, who is a Prakruti Bandhu laureate. He also distributed saplings from his garden to villagers in Nandol and surrounding areas.
He says documentation of many species of medicinal plants and herbs is the need of the hour.
“The denudation of forests and the unscientific harvesting of medicinal plants by traders and their agents threaten many plant species. There should be a protocol for sustainable harvesting and conservation of the species by the forest department with the help of villagers who know the plants,” he says.
Sahu himself documented several medicinal plants and wrote two volumes of illustrated books about them. However, he does not have the funds to publish them.