Documentation of ritual plants used in various faiths among the Deserts of Sindh-Pakistan   

By Amir Hussain, Muhammad Ismail Bhatti,Saida Munir  Ghulam Abbas, Abdul Nasir  

One of the most crucial resources for comprehending local populations and providing assistance in environment conservation is the ritual beliefs of indigenous peoples. Numerous cultures preserve their folkloric traditions and ritualistic practices, which can offer important knowledge and connections to biodiversity protection. Since humans and their environment have a close and long-standing relationship, conserving biodiversity on the basis of culture and religion is more dependable and effective than regulation. Nature has been severely impacted by land-use changes brought on by the human population increase. Important plant species have suffered due to habitat alteration and associated biological changes. Plants play a very important role in a larger number of human populations, particularly in rural communities. In rural area; plants are an important source of food, medicine, condiment, and construction material to build. In addition, several plants are part of various ritual purposes as well as a source of livelihood for the local people. Plants have many cultural aspects, e.g. language, history, art, religion, politics, and social structure This area has a rich diversified culture, traditions, customs, folklore, dances, and music due to its different populations of religions, sects, and castes. The country is divided into two religious groups, with Muslims representing the majority and Hindus in minority. Sindhi, Dhatki, and Gujrati are the most common languages spoken in the deserts of Southern Sindh, whereas Urdu is an uncommon spoken language. Southern Sindh’s desert is one of the world’s most densely inhabited deserts, with agriculture and animal husbandry being the primary professions of its residents. Agriculture is unreliable in this region since at least one-third of crops fail following the wet season. Due to the tough farming circumstances, animal husbandry has become popular. Both maternal and infant mortality rates are high due to a lack of sufficient healthcare facilities. Almost all ethnic groups utilize herbal remedies to treat a variety of ailments, and these communities have a wealth of traditional knowledge about how to use medicinal plants. Plants of local Indonesian ethnicity have an important meaning, especially those used in different religious ceremonies .including in the Desert region. The number of plants used in ceremonials is different and varied and often has symbols that may vary from one species to another. The role of one species cannot be replaced by other species in ritual ceremonies. Besides the primary purpose related to symbols, this feature is as a path of guidance, peace of mind, and comfort in ritual life, so the use of these plant species believed can trigger disasters for local people. Numerous plants have been used in traditional ceremonies, such as Oryza sativa L. Salvadora alii Rajput & Syeda., Prosopis cineraria (L.), Cocos nucifera L. These species have a main function related to symbolism. Technology and information developments are reported to have led to a decline in traditional knowledge of local communities in different regions.. The condition may also have an impact on the Acehnese tradition in particular the use of various plants in ritual ceremonies, given that modernization has influenced the lifestyle of the young generation. In addition, documentation on the use of plants used in traditional ceremonies is limited, and knowledge transfer from generation to generation is mostly conducted orally.

  1. Wedding ceremony

         (Local name Khandi)

    When a man is making a romantic proposal to a lady in Peureulak, prosopis cineraria is a custom that has been passed down through the centuries. Meulakee is required to be with the mediator (individuals who speak on behalf of the family of the potential groom), as it is forbidden for the parents of the men and women to interact directly. The respondent claims that the Seulangke in Meulake sells numerous types of fruit as souvenirs, including M. indica, M. domestica, R. communis, and V. vinifera. 

  1. B) Pregnancy ceremony

   (Local name Khabar)

          Salvadora persica Linn is a tradition of Mak Tuan (mother-in-law) visiting Dara Baro (daughter-in-law) who is 3 months pregnant. The in-laws were accompanied by several women who were close relatives. During the visit, they brought various fruits as souvenirs such as propis cineraria, Corchorus depressus (L.), Saccharum officinarum, and Cocos nucifera .At the age of 3 months of pregnancy, women usually like fruit that tastes sour. According to the respondent, when this desire is not fulfilled, they believe that the child that is born would become greedy or often drool.The Peucicap ritual is a procession to introduce the taste of food to the baby. Respondents state that the materials used in this ceremony were honey bees, Acacia senegal (L.), Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav, Azadirachta indica A. Juss., and Calotropis procera (Aiton). These fruits are squeezed to drink water, and then rubbed with honey on the baby’s lips. In addition, Amaranthus hybridus is often added to the water. All these materials were prepared by the woman who gave birth .The peucicap is carried out by Tengku (people with a high level of religious knowledge), admired and of good character, hoping that the child will become pious and have good morals in the future.Calligonum polygonoides L. is a traditional ritual of cutting a newborn’s placenta traditionally, the placenta is cut using a C.polygonoides knife the water consisting of a mixture of chewed Cuscuta reflexa Roxb, charcoal, and Cocculus hirsutus (L.) is then placed on the baby’s navel. This method is intended to make the remaining placenta dry quickly and separated from the baby’s navel. During the discussion, the respondent states that Cocculus hirsutus (L.), which is yellow, is a symbol of glory. Then the baby is bathed in warm water, and then sprayed with Cocculus hirsutus (L.). This procession is believed to provide strength and avoid interference from the devil, and to be a substitute for the powder to prevent colds. Culture and traditions must continue to be developed and preserved. Cultural development is essentially aimed at improving the quality of human life, materials, ethics, and aesthetics. Cultural development is part of the effort to confront globalization and anticipate the future with all its problems and challenges. The culture and traditions of the past are already important and meaningful, but new values must be added creatively and adapted to the relevance of the times.