Medicinal Herbs

At several corners and alleyways of Mapusa market are women selling, bunches of tied-up, dried and fresh foliage, dehydrated  matter, pods, bark, kernels, bone, fungus, wood, minerals, gels, roots, beads, seeds, weed, powders, all conjuring images of mystical shaman gardens, secret rituals and lesser known practices. On further excavation one finds prepared packets of curious assorted jungle bits and flora, some familiar spices and condiments, the entirety representing to me a microcosm of an organic and textural earthy matter.

These people are bearers of a very ancient healing practice in Goa and include cures for nearly every known diseases from knee pain and diabetes to leprosy, psoriasis, kidney stones, heart and liver diseases, stomach ailments, skin infections, bone and spinal injury to name a few. These are medicinal herbs and plants, and other precious natural substances found in the lush forests of Goa and commonly grow in every backyard of the goan village house. The tradition of passing on the knowledge of local healing practices within the family is fast fading as the younger generation aspires towards modernity and a changing social order. It was interesting to observe that the patrons of the local panacea range from all ages, and socio-cultural and economic backgrounds. I met this one Goan man (38yrs) now living in Australia and working in a bank, buying his regular supply to take with him. He said he had been brought up on these cures. These vendors also operate as healers and prescribe curatives on patient analysis, I met a few customers that looked pretty rundown, feverish, they would each be asked some questions and administered an appropriate packet or seed or bundle of dried plants, with instructions of either brewing, smoking, inhaling, chewing or drinking.

The assignment undertaken is to initiate a documentation of these  specimens via drawings as they are seen and recognized in Mapusa market and further research their botanical names and cures. The aim is to eventually print booklets, posters, printed packets containing these drawings and descriptions that the vendors can display and distribute to their patrons.

Created by
Tabasheer Zutshi
on Tuesday, September 17, 2013