Ethnobotany of the Dobur Uie


Ethnobotany of religious and supernatural beliefs of the Mising tribes of Assam with special reference to the ‘Dobur Uie’

Uma Kanta Sharma & Shyamanta Pegu
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2011 Jun 2;7:16
PubMed Central: PMC3135499
The state of Assam, India
The state of Assam, India
(Source: CC-by-sa PlaneMad/Wikimedia)

Researchers from Dhemaji College worked with local participants to collect ethnobotanical data on plants used for medicine by the Mising people of Assam, a richly biodiverse and ethnically diverse region of northeastern India with “a great traditional knowledge base in plant resources”, as noted by the authors:

“There is no specific work done so far on the plants used by the tribal people of Assam in different religious and cultural practices. It is in this background that the present study has been undertaken, which is aimed at the documentation of the plants related with religious and cultural practices in the Dobur Uie ritual of Mising people of Assam and their conservational practices.”

In the Dobur Uie ritual, the Mising people eat medicinal plants along with their daily meal. A number of these plants (n=30) are catalogued in the article, including vernacular names, description, parts used, religious virtue, medicinal use and local status (e.g., “available”, “rare”, “very rare”). The plants are used in the treatment of common ailments like diarrhea, dysentery, indigestion, flatulence, stomach problems and liver problems.

Deforestation and over-exploitation are serious concerns, resulting in rapid depletion of many of these plants from the forest ecosystem.

From the authors’ conclusion:

“…the reducing trend of [religious and wild vegetable] plants in the forest is now becoming a serious concern for the Mising community as their cultural identity is intertwined with these plants. Domestication of religious and wild vegetable plants is a good sign for conservation point of view. Every Mising family grows some wild vegetable plants like Gomphostemma parviflora [Gomphostemma parviflorum?], Clerodendrum colebrookianum, Ficus racemosa, Sarcochlamys pulcherrima etc. in their gardens for consumption and sale. These plants can help overcome the deficiency of nutritional constituents, especially in rural areas. It is important to promote consciousness about the food habits and accept wild food plants like the cultivated ones. Thus they become conscious about conserving their surrounding plant resources…. We suggest that the traditional knowledge of the Mising people could provide useful information in finding new drugs that contribute to human welfare. So the most urgent need is to rescue and record the traditional knowledge on plants in the form of digitized database before its extinction.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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