DHAKUWAKHONA (LAKHIMPUR), Sept 19 - A dying tradition and a call to preserve a very common plant, now fast moving towards extinction, was the highlight of a village public meet in Dhakuwakhona sub-division of Lakhimpur district on last Sunday.
Organised by Wild Silk North East, an organisation promoting traditional agro-economic practices for sustainable development and for climate resilient communities, it was the Nangal Dhowa (washing the plough) ceremony which marks the ending of ploughing, sowing and planting of paddy cultivation of Assam observed on the last day of Assamese month of Bhada.
On this occasion, villagers in traditional Assamese way make pithas (rice cakes) wrapped in tora (Alpinia) leaves and serve it with duck meat or milk or lentils among family members and neighbours. Similar Nangal Dhowa function was organised by the villagers of Mohemari village on the banks of river Korha in Dhakuwakhona where a symposium was organised by Wild Silk Northeast for the preservation, conservation and commercialisation of Alpinia plants which has an inseparable bond with paddy cultivation in Assam besides having tremendous medicinal values.
Attended by Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) of Dhakuwakhona, Arindam Baruah, and chaired by Dr HN Dutta, retired Joint Director of Agriculture, the key-note address of the symposium was delivered by Jitul Saikia, Director of Wild Silk North East. In his address, Saikia explained the hidden treasure found with Alpinia plants, the tora paat. Citing numerous researches and findings across the globe, he informed the gathering that the Alpinia Conchigera variants of the plant have been used to cure Tuberculosis and Rheumatic pains.
The roots, stems, leaves, flower and seeds of its other variants like Alpinia Calcerata have been used as medicines for cardiac diseases, ling infection, high blood pressure and diabetes. The secret behind the longevity of people living in Okinawa region of Japan has been attributed to their regular use of the leaves of Alpinia zerumbet variant of the tora paat, Saikia told the gathering.
These plants also have Flavonoids, Terpenoids, Kavalactones, Protocatechuic acid and lots of antioxidants used for anti-cancer, neuropathy, Parkinson�s and other critical diseases, Jitul Saikia said. Besides, these plants have de-worming, antibacterial and antifungal elements necessary for both humans and other beneficiary insects like silk worms. Traditionally in Muga Silk rearing, host plants like Som (Machilus bombycina), Suwalu (Litsaea polyntha), ropes made from tora leaves are tied to prevent the worms climbing down, recalled Saikia in his address at the symposium.