Visit: Foundation for the Revitalization of Local Health Traditions

Last monday (15th December, 2008) children with the upper elementary group and the erdkinder visited  FRLHT– its medicinal farm and office, off Yelahanka, Bangalore. This is a short report on the visit. (in all, some 20 children and 4 adults took part) 

Prior to the visit, the children with the upper elementary have been working on the various ways of taxonomizing and identifying the plants (based on various parts of their ‘bodies’ – I mean, plants’) and have been feverishly labouring on leaf, flower samples, reports and stuff. The erdkinder, on their part, had been getting trained for the past several weeks at a nearby horticultural farm of APD (Association of People with Disabilities) on various aspects of horticulture – in a hands-on kind of way. 

We left at circa 10 AM. Namma Shaale is about 15 kms from FRLHT farm and, we travelled by the school bus and happily avoided all the traffic snarls of the city (as we decided to take a ‘short-cut’ thru the picturesque route of kannur-kogilu-yelahanka). 

On reaching FRLHT, we were courteously shown around the farm. The consultants from FRLHT – Sri Sriram and Smt Pushpa, enthusiastically took us around their nursery, patiently explaining to us the various features of herbs, their curative properties and much else.

We also visited their Zodiac Garden (a circular garden, comprising the mappings of zodiacal signs to trees/plants), Gauri-vrath Garden (they had an arrangement of some 24 herbs around a waterbody, apparently, all used during this vrath), Endangered species (‘red list’) garden and a water garden.

Apparently, there are experiments going on in the hospital (FRLHT has an hospital and a research centre) about the curative possibilities of the association of human beings and plants – falling under the same zodiacal signs. We should get more details later…

The consultants allowed the children to taste and smell various herbs and, obvioulsy, the children too took it like a herd of goats would take to a lush garden. Seriously. They were hell bent on tasting every leaf and flower, literally unherd of in the entire history of Namma Shaale! 

They took an apparent liking to arisi tippili / pippali (Piper longum) and madhunaashini (Gymnema sylvestre) – the former for its cough-syrup-like-aftertaste and the latter for the magical vanishing of the ability to taste sweetness/sugar for some half-an-hour after one munched on it. 

Of course, we saw to it that what they ate were not dangerous at all, so fellow parents, don’t you worry.

Post a hasty lunch, we went to FRLHT’s annexe and saw the herbs preserved in green house under humidifiers. And of course, all of us loved to get nicely drenched in the cool drizzle of the humidifiers, what with the sweltering heat outside… The children of course wanted to spend some more time, some more time AND some more time…

But, by then, it was time for us to get back. 😦

We have decided to go back to the FRLHT nursery to get plants and saplings for the school herbal garden, as soon as we could.  As a followup activity, the children plan to write reports and discuss herbs & health traditions. May be we could have a herbarium too, what do you think?

Finally — Kudos to FRLHT folks for their attempts to preserve a facet of our rich heritage – and thanks a lot to them too, for all the time and energy spent with us!

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