As devotees were bringing home the Ganesh idols on Ganesh Chaturthi last week, two city-based environment lovers, Santosh Yadav and Amit Panariya, were busy scouring the city for leaves.
The duo collected 19 of the 21 holy leaves, popularly known as Ganesh Patris that are offered to the elephant God, in a single day from various spots across the city. “The remaining two trees are found only along the Himalayan range,” said Yadav, 26, a Dahisar resident who is pursuing his PhD on the Flora of Nashik.
“The leaves have a significant role to play in the Eka Vimshathi Patra Puja, which is conducted immediately after the idol is brought home,” said Yadav. “ However, over the last few years, devotees have been finding it difficult to look for all the leaves. Most make do with Dhruva grass and Bilva leaves that are freely available in the market,” he added.
The 21 plant leaves including Badari, Choota, Sindhuvara and Arjuna, have important medicinal properties to cure common health problems such as fever, cough, cold, stomach upsets and skin ailments.
“We took approximately two hours to trace the leaves, travelling from Mira Road to Magathane in Borivli along the Western railway line. While a few specimens were found in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, most others needed extra effort,” said Panariya, 29, chief coordinator of conservation initiatives, Sanctuary magazine.