AGRA: There’s a dollop of ayurvedic wisdom to help Taj Mahal retain its original allure. Even as the monument of love, yellowing with age, awaits its promised beauty pack, forest department has come up with another quickfix project: Plant-a-Tulsi drive in Agra. The recommended complexion care regimen, officers claim, has full backing of ancient texts which hold Tulsi as the panacea for all problems from cosmic to cosmetic.
The department will launch the Tulsi plantation drive from January 2009. The public-private joint venture is expected to provide an eco-protection cover to sensitive Taj trapezium zone surrounding the 17th century monument as well as the other two world heritage monuments like the Agra Fort and Aitma-ud-Daula tomb. Tulsi was (Occinum sanctum) chosen for its anti-pollutant anti-oxidation and air-purifying properties, making it an ideal ornamental shrub in the vicinity of the Taj.
Talking to TOI on Thursday, DFO, Agra division, N K Janu, said that the target in the first phase was to plant one lakh plants. Nearly 80,000 of the lot, he said, would be planted ensuring community involvement. The department is short-listing the NGOs to be invited to join the effort. The idea is to concentrate on colonies adjacent to Taj Mahal, mainly Taj Nagri, Shastri Puram, Kamala Nagar, to name a few.
The job is to sensitise the masses about pollution, and ensure maximum participation and follow up, he said. Meanwhile, forest department will undertake greening the Taj Forest Block Area (TFBA). Initially, the task involves plating 10,000 saplings alongside the 650 broad leaved environment friendly saplings (peepal, neem, pakar, goolar, kadamb and bargad) planted this year, he said.
The launch, he said, would be marked by distribution of Tulsi saplings in every school of Agra on Republic Day. Over 10,000 plants would be given out to children accompanied by a letter of appeal to the parents, says RP Bharti, the chief conservator of forest, Agra zone. The letter will request their corporation to save the environment and Taj, he said.
The drive, said the DFO, needs much caution and care as Tulsi is a very sensitive plant and liable to wilt under winter frost. The department will launch the drive by January-end to ensure that survival of Tulsi is satisfactory.
Source: TOI, 12 Dec 2008
Notes from the Editor’s desk.
Although vaishnavas donot utilize Tulasi for any other purpose other than to offer to Lord Krishna, people in general use it for its medicinal value. Growing a Tulasi plant is a common custom in traditional Hindu households, perhaps its not without a reason. Tulasi not only bestows pure devotional service to her worshippers but as we see here protects her worshippers from pollution as well. For whatever reason since they plan to plant Tulasi and water it daily is going to give some spiritual benefit to otherwise sinful people. Especially as the Padma Purana extolls the glories of worshipping Tulasi.