Ganesh Festivities Take a Toll on Rare Plants

Kerala Identifies Climate Change Hotspots
  • The eco friendly Ganesh is gaining popularity and at the same time botanists and forest authorities are alarmed over the use of rare and endangered plant species in the Western Ghats as part of the ‘Ganapati Patri Puja’ because 21 verities of leaves are used to worship the deity during the puja
  • These leaves mostly are illegally harvested in the Ghats and while no pooja manual mentions ‘parti pooja’ as per a city-based botanist Dr. Sachin Punekar founder of the NGO ‘Biospheres’ and a senior research scientist at the Naoroji Godrej Centre for Plant Research. Excessive use of the endangered plants was throwing conservation efforts astray
  • The plants which include of these 21 verities are wild turmeric, mahalungi [said to be a diabetes cure] and screw pine, especially its variants — pandanus odoratissimus and pandanus tectorius
  • The damage has not been quantified yet but it is extremely worrying because if seasonal plants are harvested excessively, then pollination and multiplication are affected while these grasses and plants are very important for soil conservation
  • As per chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Pune Division the need of the hour is creating awareness, a single kewra flower ( pandanus tectorius ) sells for as much as Rs. 150 which is a question that arose
  • A seller of this flower makes around 4000-5000 within a few days before the Ganesha festival but “People ought to restrict themselves only to easily and extensively available patris , such as the traditional tulsi, bel or durva leaves,” said botanist Dr. Shrikant Ingalhalikar
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