Doona and Patal- The vanishing culture of Dogras and solution to plastic pollution:- Rajni Devi
“Doona” is a bowl and “Patal” is a plate made up of tree leaves. Doona and Patal is an integral part of Dogra culture, it was used to serve Dogra cuisine at feasts of any kind. These are made up of leaves from trees like Palash (Butea monosperma), Kartad (Bauhinia sps), Lassoda (Cordia dichotoma), Bargad (Ficus benghalensis) by arranging the leaves in different patterns by stitching them with dry grass. During olden days it was practiced that whenever there is any feast or marriage all the women of the community come together to prepare Doona and Patal and this process starts many days before the event.
Today preparation of Dooan –Patal has become a source of livelihood for many poor families residing especially in hilly tracts, although it has been replaced by plastic in many parts, the use of plastic cup and plates has also been noticed in far flung areas. It was an age old practice that women folk prepare Doona-Patal and sell it out to the local market. These were used to serve community meals in almost all type of functions. Even today these plates are used in Langars (community meal) organized by Temples or other holy places. Doona-Patal are boi-degradable, but in most of the cases these plates are dumped at some place and are often eaten by the cattle. They are 100% biodegradable and if thrown in environmental they degraded in few days adding fertility to soil. Now-a-day disposable plastic/ thermocol/ styrofoam cups plates and glasses are available in the market are extensively used. The use of plastic has replaced eco-friendly leaf cups and plates. Most people don’t know that food served in disposable items can be contaminated and results in health hazards. Bisphenol A is a chemical which is released from the plastic when it comes in contact with hot food. This is a cancer causing toxin, effects our reproductive health and nerves system. People dump these disposable items in streams and drains which results in pollution and choking. Such products are not decomposed even after hundreds of years. If we burn these cup –plates they emit chemicals which deteriotes the quality of environmental. In present scenario when plastic is talk of town Doona and Patal is solution to the problem. We should revive our culture and go back to nature. I even recommend to get this local product standardized if needed innovations should also be used so that is can become a source of livelihood for poor families.
Rajni Devi M.sc, M.phil in environmental science From Jammu university Lecturer in environmental science. Presently posted at GHSS Bharakh Reasi