Anna R Lee


How To

LEARN SUSTAINABLE LIVING WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE DANGI TRIBESMEN
By Dr Deepak Acharya (Our Resident Botanist)


How to consider the fluctuations of the moon cycle as "food for thought" for your next sustainable initiative.

Full Moon has a deep spiritual importance and high religious significance among the tribesmen in India. In the Dang District of Gujarat, thousands of tribals gather to celebrate the day of the full moon. According to the community head, known as Bhagat, “the fifteen days when the moon in on the increasing phase is considered as very auspicious, the moon passes through many stages till it reaches Full-Moon Day. If one starts a business or any other important work during this phase, success will touch the feet as the moon is also getting bigger by each passing day.” The next fifteen days after the full-moon are not considered lucky because the moon is then in a decreasing phase, known as Andher (literally, the dark phase). The two-day Full Moon celebration is a joyous festive time for all the tribesmen and women. Rudaali, one of the most popular folk operatic performance traditions, is organized for the night before. This tradition is an entertaining way to spread social and environmental awareness. Its storylines range from mythological and folk tales to issues related to local flora and fauna. Performers sing songs about nature and pray to mother earth, asking the goddess Tulaja Bhawani for blessings, peace, health, and prosperity.

On Full Moon Day, a ritual known as Yagya, to please the gods and to attain wishes, is organized in the premises of the temple. Purna Ahooti, an offering to the gods, is made at the end of Yagya (also known as Yagya or Yajna) – an age-old Vedic ritual in which an elaborate fire pit is created, where priests make offerings of grain, fruits, milk, and other items while chanting holy scriptures or mantras. It is said that attending the ceremony alone is as life-affirming as attending the entire celebration. This event is open to all faiths, customs, religions, and communities. After the Purna Ahuti, the sacred lunch Prasad is offered to the goddess.

Full Moon night is meant for Tantras and Mantras. The ritual is performed by Bhagat, who acts as a link in between God and the devotees. Here Bhagat asks God for good health and good crops throughout the year. He then urges his fellow tribesmen to safeguard the biodiversity of the region, preaching sustainable ways of living in tune with nature.

Bhagats know secret herbal cures, passed from generation to generation. The knowledge does not take the form of a written text, or Ayurveda, because it relies on the Bhagat’s unique expertise. There are few no dos and don’ts in herbal prescriptions.

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Deepak Acharya, MSc, PhD, is a microbiologist turned ethnobotanist, a herbal hunter, and director for research and development at Abhumka Herbal Pvt., Ltd., in Ahmedabad, India. He has been involved in scouting, documentation and validation for the herbal knowledge of tribesmen in remote pockets of India.
This piece by our resident botanist Dr. Deepak Acharya is to be considered as an introduction to his work. In our next editions, we will offer more insights in the use and healing properties of medicinal plants.

More information on Dr. Deepak Acharya: www.patalkot.com



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