THE RAAN BHAJI (FOREST HABITAT VEGETABLE) FESTIVAL AT THE COMMUNITY HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTRE, BHOPOLI

 Chandrasekhar Goda MD (Hom)*

The Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Trust works in Community Health & Development in the Tribal  and rural regions of the Vikramgad & Palghar talukas of the Palghar district on Community Health & Development. Its work is carried on through initiatives in Health, Organic Farming, Education, Self Help Groups and promoting Warli Art. Since the last 5 years  the MLD Trust has organized the Raan Bhaji festival each year during monsoons at the Community Health and Development Centre, Bhopoli, on behalf of the Health and Organic farming initiative.

Director, Rural Community Services, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Trust (MLDT)

*Address of correspondence: Dr Chandrasekhar Goda  Email: sujchan18@gmail.com

How to cite this article:

Goda CR. The raan bhaji (forest habitat vegetable) festival at the community health and development centre, Bhopoli. Journal of Integrated Standardized Homoeopathy (JISH) 2018; 01(01):30-33.
 

Received on: September 10, 2018

Accepted for Publication: September 19, 2018[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

 

Background:

Raan bhaji or forest vegetables constitute a vital part of the tribal diet. These vegetables are naturally obtained, nutritionally and medicinally rich, and have been used by the tribal folks for centuries. Their nutritional and therapeutic values are optimum since they grow in their natural habitat, meaning they grow on their own without being sown or cultivated. The seeds are the fittest as they have survived different weather conditions. Hence the vegetables are extremely robust and healthy. These are habitat & location specific. They have a symbiotic relationship with their habitat for e.g. some grow on marshy (soft & wet) land, some on stony, some on a slope, in bushes, grasses, or by water bodies, etc. etc. This aspect is available in the study of Homoeopathic pharmacopeia as well. It will be an interesting study to draw parallels and study the correlations.

Another aspect is that they can be found at about exactly the same spots in the jungle, with the same qualities, unless the habitat has been modified by man. The tribal people consider nature, jungle, & their habitat as their gods. The forest god they worship is called Hirwa Dev (‘the Green God’).

Nowadays, people are trying to grow or cultivate these forest vegetables. It is worth studying if the cultivated variants will have the same properties as the ones that grow naturally.

Unfortunately, in recent years the cultivation of these vegetables is on a decline and  there is a danger of the latter being forgotten and  becoming extinct.  As a parallel example, we can consider rice as a crop –  it is said that there used to be 2,00,000 varieties of rice being grown (each variety having a distinct health-promoting or disease-preventing quality). Now, it has come down to only about 1500. This enormous decline in variety is alarming. Credit for identifying and sharing this knowledge goes to the Late Dr. R. S. Richharia, Rice scientist, National Rice Research Institute Cuttack, Odisha.

Objectives:

  • To promote these vegetables, which grow naturally in the local forests
  • To identify and disseminate in the society the health-promoting and disease-preventing properties of these vegetables.
  • To bring awareness of this rich food tradition to the younger generation as well as non-tribal & rural population
  • To encourage the tribal population to go back to the healthy traditional practices and rejuvenate the use of the locally available natural food chain
  • To promote efforts to identify these vegetables, procure them in the most viable form, and utilize them in day-to-day living, either as food or as medicine.
  • To help the local leaders and decision-makers to incorporate this rich & healthy tradition into their thinking and planning so that they can bring about a gradual change in society

Formulation and Preparation for the Festival

To demonstrate the process of collection of the vegetable or a part of it, to methods of cooking it, we had prepared an audio-visual clip that showcased the jungle area and the kitchens of the tribal folk. This allowed an in-depth understanding the entire process.   Interestingly, most of the participants were women from the Self-Help Groups formed by the Trust.

The Festival

The program was organized in the training hall of the Community Development Centre on the 21st of August 2018. It was attended by about 200 people -Tribal SHG women, local farmers, guests from Mumbai & MLDT staff. A community lunch was organized so that the vegetable preparations were actually relished along with bhakri or chappatis made of rice and nachani (ragi).

Usually we invite experts from a different place to evaluate the vegetables and  recipes for their nutritive and medicinal value. For the first time,  we had invited a local tribal expert (  trained in using about 125 varieties of vegetables, and organizing such festivals), Shri Jagannath Hilim, from Karhe Talawali village, to assess the preparation. He innovatively connected many of the traditional practices of the use of the vegetables for promoting health and preventing diseases like renal calculi, high blood pressure, baldness, malnutrition, anaemia, and joint pains. Many of these examples were immediately relevant to the local population. For example, the vegetables useful in promoting haemoglobin and preventing Anaemia, can be used for under-nourished children, adolescent girls, & pregnant women. Table 1 at the end of the article gives some examples of the plant and its mode of use in the specified disease conditions.

Amongst the visitors, the Vikramgad Panchayat Samiti Krishi Vikas Adhikari was represented by his deputy officer named Shri Abu Kurhada. We also had Mr. Kiran Lele & his wife Mrs.Megha who are locals, and conduct such festivals regularly. They found the programme to be useful as it included the process of actually collecting the vegetables from the source and demonstrated the process of preparing them. A couple from Mumbai, Mr. Shishir & Mrs. Aashika Chachad, involved in marketing the organic vegetables produced here, found the experience very innovate & enriching. They realized the health-promoting value of these vegetables. Media coverage was done by Sanjay Khandare, Vaishali Polke, Umesh Solanki, Devendra Sawant of an online channel on Youtube called “Being Marathi”. (http://youtu.be/paWCiWq2QEU ).

The tribal women and men who participated in the festival realized for the first time the significance of the vegetables although they had been using the vegetables. They also developed an insight about the scientific aspect of their traditional practices. The women sang a few folk songs related to the importance of the jungle, the mountain & the natural products. One of the songs is the background of the video that is being shared with this article. The video link is https://youtu.be/FOdf_RVHPIM

Overall, the entire initiative was a  holistic experience connecting all the initiatives of Community Development being taken up by the organization. It took in the “Totality” of the region into consideration.

Take home lesson:

The understanding of the ‘Habitat’ aspect of the vegetables is quite similar to that of our Homoeopathic medicines. Most of the medicinal values of our plant remedies are maximised if they grow in the right habitat. Some principles of the action of the vegetables are similar to the Law of Similars.

Table 1: Use of some of the vegetables

Sr.No. Name of the Plant or Vegetable Which part to be used Which illnesses
1. Kardu Leaves

Seeds

Diuretic

Renal Stone

2. Bamboo: Shind Baby shoots or Kawali Bhaji Haemorroids
3. Kharsanicha Pala Leaves The system ejects swallowed hair after breaking it into pieces.
4. Kharshingh Stems & Leaves Scabies, Dermatitis & Asthma
5. Naal Bhaji Naal gudd? Umbilical Hernia, Abdominal Colic
6. RaanSuran Stem Snakebite wound & swelling
7. Kartola Vegetable Anti-Helminthic, Reduces Fat, Good for diabetes.
8. Pendre Leaves & stem Diarrhoea & Mucoid stools
9. Loth Roots ointment If applied to snake bite, the poison does not spread
10. Baafli Juice from Roots Pain Abdomen, Dysentery; Juice of roots administered for snake bite.
11. Safed Musali Queen of vegetables. ½ a spoon of the powder daily Malnutrition.

To enhance lactation.