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Magazine Editorial

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Title The Rustic Wisdom of Jamnaben
Abstract (The issue of course is: How to conserve her knowledge and the diversity on which this knowledge is based. What kind of incentives will work in which situation, is part of the research, SRISTI has been pursuing. We welcome comments from readers to solve these issues : Ed).
Details When it comes to treating animals in and around Timla village, dist Panchmahal there is none as famous as Jamnaben Somabhai Damor. She has learnt the secrets of all the healing herbs by watching her mother and grandmother at work. She has not merely tried the proven traditional remedies but also experimented with some modifications. She is one lady to reckon with when it comes to curing animals the herbal way! The power of inquisitiveness She was born in a peasant family in the Panchmahals. The area around her village has a picturesque view surrounded by forests, lakes and hills. She had lived a rough life and now at an age around 64 she is a treasure-trove of knowledge. She grew up tending goats and cows and when they fell ill, she gave them one or two curative herbs and thus started her foray into the world of medicinal plants. She would always be watching her mother or her grandmother while they were collecting the plants which were to be used for formulations. Later on she made a note of the different plants used for curing various diseases. She was always curious to know more about the medicinal plants. The formative years Jamnaben was married at the tender age of fifteen into a household which had a large livestock holding. She was given the responsibility of looking after 15 heads of cattle. After finishing with her chores for the day she would take the cattle out to graze in the forests. It was here that she developed the knowledge of medicinal plants and learnt the practical application of each of them. Whenever any of the cattle had any problems during the night she and her husband attended to them They would go pick the plants from the forest and try out new formulations. She was whole heartedly supported by her in-laws in her venture. She recalls an incident about a buffalo she had. The buffalo had eaten green jowar and was foaming at the mouth. Jamnaben tried all the usual remedies like making the buffalo drink a solution of pounded meethivel, or kalovel but all these proved ineffective and then an idea struck her .She thought why not give cocum, jaggery and a few flowers of mahuda as an antidote to the food poisoning.The buffalo on taking the concoction started getting better. She was absolutely thrilled when her mother-in-law gave her a pat on the back and said, 'my daughter-in law sure has a lot of working knowledge'. It was a moment of triumph for Jamnaben when she felt that all her experiments resulted in a better knowledge of treating animals. With time, she had three sons and all of them are literate enough to read and write. Her first born is the headman of the village. Her grand daughter is studying for Bachelor of rural studies. She provides her a lot of input about the modern veterinary practices. This gives Jamnanben more ideas in innovating the traditional practices that she has been following. The lady veterinary practitioner Jamnaben’s house was the most sought after by people who had sick animals which needed to be attended on. She was considered a specialist when it came to curing a animal. Many a time people would take Jamnaben for scouting of medicinal plants. The respect and the happiness she gets out of helping people is the one of the best things she loves about her profession. Now a days there are outbreaks of newer diseases and sometimes recognizing the symptoms itself becomes very difficult. Sometimes she feels the wild varieties of the medicinal plants have become less effective. Only recently a cow had to be treated for diarrhoea. She tried many combinations but of no avail. The cow could not be cured and it finally died. All the cases of Jamnaben have not been sure success stories but then it is all a part of the profession. Despite this, she feels that the varieties of medicinal plants need to be conserved so that people can make use of the treasure that nature has gifted us. Jamnaben is really happy that SRISTI is one such organisation which is definitely trying to put together and conserve the vast amount of traditional knowledge prevalent in the times.
Volume No. Honey Bee, 10(3): 16, 1999