Pataet Sahu: Preserving Traditional Healing through Medicinal Plants

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In the picturesque village of Nandol in Odisha, resides a humble 65-year-old man whose garden has become a beacon of hope and healing for many. Pataet Sahu, a traditional healer and a true enthusiast of medicinal plants, has been awarded the prestigious Padma Shri for his remarkable contribution to conserving traditional healing practices and preserving a diverse array of medicinal plants. Team Interview Times took the initiative to visit his humble abode and hear from the horse mouth himself about his wondrous kingdom of plants.

 

A traditional herbalist (Vaidya) from Odisha, Sahu helped in popularising & planting herbal medicines. He was part of team that discovered 350 herbal plants of rare varieties in Ghana Forest.

 

As the team arrived at Sahu’s lush green farm, the sight of over 1.5 acres of land adorned with more than 3000 varieties of medicinal plants was awe-inspiring. The air was filled with the soothing aroma of the herbs, and the atmosphere exuded a sense of serenity that immediately put me at ease.

 

Dressed in a lungi with a local gamucha draped across his shoulder, Sahu welcomed me with a warm smile. We settled down under the shade of a large Bhringraj tree, and he began to recount his journey into the world of medicinal plants.

 

“My grandfather was a traditional healer, and it was he who instilled in me the love for these plants,” Sahu shared. “As a child, spending time with him after school, I learned about their usage and properties. Eventually, I knew that medicinal plants were my calling.”

 

Sahu’s quest to create his medicinal garden took him to the dense jungles of Kalahandi and beyond, as he explored various regions in search of different plant species. With dedication and hard work, he nurtured a diverse collection that includes Kakharu, Maeda, Sarpagandha, Sambarsingha, Rasnajadi, and many others.

 

“Every district in Odisha has traditional healers, and we would undertake journeys to various places in search of medicinal plants,” Sahu explained. “It was a collaborative effort to preserve the knowledge and richness of our traditional healing heritage.”

 

As word spread about Sahu’s healing abilities, people from all walks of life started coming to him for treatment. His natural remedies, prepared without any chemicals, became increasingly sought after for their effectiveness and organic nature. “People come to me seeking cures for colds, fevers, headaches, and skin ailments,” Sahu said with a glimmer of pride in his eyes. “I don’t charge fees for treatment. The blessings and gratitude from those I help are more than enough.” His family has been a pillar of support throughout his journey. His younger son, Sushant, beamed with pride as he shared, “We consider the blessings of people as our true earnings.”

 

Apart from treating people, Sahu also focused on spreading the knowledge of medicinal plants within his community. He distributed plants to his friends and fellow villagers, urging them to embrace the healing power of nature. To preserve and propagate his vast knowledge, Sahu has written two books, awaiting publication, that contain detailed information about the plants, their descriptions, properties, and usage.

 

“In the past, these medicinal plants were readily available, but with changing times, the forests and various species are disappearing,” Sahu lamented. “It is crucial to document and disseminate this knowledge to ensure its survival.”

 

President Droupadi Murmu presents Padma Shri to Pataet Kumar Sahu for Agriculture.

 

The recent Padma Shri award has brought national recognition to Sahu’s efforts, and he hopes it will inspire more people to embrace the healing potential of traditional medicine.

 

As we bid farewell to Pataet Sahu and his bountiful garden, we couldn’t help but be inspired by his dedication to preserving the age-old wisdom of medicinal plants. In a world often driven by modern medicine, Sahu stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us all that nature’s remedies can be both powerful and nurturing, and that the knowledge of our ancestors should never be forgotten.

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