Semal (Red Silk Cotton) Tree Conservation: A Neohumanist approach – by Dr. Vartika Jain

Semal (Red Silk Cotton) Tree Conservation is the Need of the Hour

Talk by Dr. Vartika Jain
Udaipur, India, 26th February, 2018

An awareness talk on conservation of the Folk Medicinal tree, – Semal, was given by Dr. Vartika Jain to Volunteers of a special National Social Service (NSS) Camp going on in Rajasthan College of Agriculture, Udaipur, India. Dr. Vartika is Secretary of the Society for Microvita Research and Integrated Medicine (SMRIM) and works as Assistant Professor in Govt. Meera Girls’ College, Udaipur. She is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences in India.

Dr. Vartika emphasized the multi-potentiality of Semal tree (Red Silk Cotton Tree) and its importance in spiritual, ecological, socio-cultural, medicinal and commercial fields and showed in her presentation how the existence of even a single species is important for balancing the entire ecosystem. She said that due to its fire-resistant property, the Semal (Red Silk Cotton Tree) tree is associated with mythological character ‘Prahlad’ and is being cut in huge quantities every year for burning in the Holi festival in the Mewar region without any sincere re-plantation efforts and hence its conservation is an urgent need of the time. Students were motivated for its mass planting and for use of eco-friendly neohumanist approaches such as Iron-pole for burning Holi, thereby helping in the Semal conservation mission which has been run by SMRIM for the past eleven years. She said to follow the rule of Think Globally but Act Locally and work for problems prevalent in the surroundings.

In the end, NSS program in-charge Dr. S.C. Meena gave thanks to Dr Vartika for her motivational talk on conservation of a single plant species and thereby finding solutions to local problems.

Iron Holi – A Neohumanist approach to save the Red Silk Cotton Tree Project developed by Dr. Vartika Jain

The Red Silk Cotton Tree / Semal (Bombax ceiba L.), an important medicinal tree also having spiritual, commercial, ecological and socio-cultural significance, is burnt traditionally in huge quantities every year in Udaipur, India on the occasion of Holi festival. Rural people cut the trees from nearby forest area and sell them at a meager cost of $10-15 in the city. The Society for Microvita Research and Integrated Medicine (SMRIM), Udaipur, has been working for conservation of this tree for the past eleven years through various approaches. SMRIM secretary Dr. Vartika Jain said that SMRIM has introduced the novel concept of burning an iron-pole as a Holi pole instead of any tree and implementing this alternative at various places in the city since 2011. These iron poles are an eco-friendly, cost-effective and a durable option for Holika-dahan. Besides, SMRIM has done massive plantation of Semal saplings in and around Udaipur city.

This year also, a collective eco-friendly Iron pole Holika dahan was celebrated on 1st March, 2018. The society president, Dr. S. K. Verma told us that this neohumanist approach to save Silk Cotton tree was implemented at Chitrakoot Nagar, Panchwati, Ram Singh ji ki Baari, Udaipur along with few places at Bhinder and Kanore. The iron pole was wrapped with dry grass and hay material and burned without using any firecrackers. In this way, a pollution-free Holika-dahan was observed so that Red Silk Cotton trees could be saved. He emphasized the importance of the re-plantation of Semal trees so that the plant could be saved for future generations. Inder Singh Rathore, Anju, Taponistha, Rahul, Girdhari lal Soni, Om Vyas, Dinesh Sharma, Kailash Choudhary, Gopal Soni and many others have worked hard for successful celebration of this neohumanist event.

“Sá vidyá yá vimuktaye - Education is that which liberates”