Sacred Doob Grass An Environmental Gift

Dr J L Gupta
The vegetation including trees, plants, bushes, shrubs, grasses, herbs, creepers etc are all an inseparable part of our eco-system. These are essential for the very survival of human and animal life on this globe. Not a single entity of these can be neglected or dropped from the accruing benefits. The grasses occurring in nature or the cultivated ones on the Plant Kingdom are however the ones that not only provide feed for the animals but also provide un-imaginable support to environment sustainability.
Evergreen Species
Little cared or appreciated by the present-day man is a grass called Doob. Also known as Khabbal or Drub and Bermuda grass (the Cynodon dactylon- botanical name) is the most versatile natural vegetation on the mother Earth. Doob is perennial and all-season vegetation, pervading fortunately all the zones of this country. Naturally exists and grows in grazing grounds, wastelands, many low forest lands, all field bunds and road side strips. The deep green turf in the lawns attached to city dwellings is invariably a Cynodon variety. It is a prostrate creeping grass with nodes where roots emerge. Leaves are linear lanceolate Where support exists the thin shoots rise to 30 to 40 cm. Flowers of Doob grass appear in digitate spikes. Nodes are the independent rooting and proliferation source therefore offer undying advantage.
Nutritional Status
Doob grass is an excellent fodder too. It is relished much by all types of livestock and even equine family. Out of an assorted lot, it is the first pick of grazing or stall fed animals. Palatability too is unsurpassed. The composition is as;
Crude Protein 5%
Crude fibre 5%
Nitrogen Free Extract 51.6%
Ether extract 1.3 %
Total Ash 9.36 %
Calcium 0.52 %
Phosporus 0.37 %
The nutrient evaluation reveals it to have DCP 5.17 % ( 2.65 dry mater basis) and TDN 45.82 %
This natural boon for the Herbivores Animal Kingdom appears squandered by the present-day pseudo environmentalists. Much damage to pasture and forest cover of Cynodon has been done through indiscriminate pasture, land reclamation and ill planned plantation drives. Pastures have eclipsed and so is the valuable sacred grass cover of India’s grazing grounds of rural area.
Cultural Importance
The heritage seems to have been kept aside in pursuit of present day objectives/objections. Never ever any civilization appears to have investigated and laid such importance to this vegetation more than the Indian society had. May be they had much more insight than what is known to us today. To that behalf and perpetuate the need to preserve many of the invaluable and essential vegetation the great Sages and Rishes developed knowledge over centuries nay millenniums and made the use (in fact the preservation indirectly) mandatory and part of culture and tradition. Right from birth to various celebrations there after in all religious functions and rituals the requirements of a few Doob plucking’s is a must. Whether it is pooja occasion or a marriage ceremony, this item has its own place. Placing a small bunch of leafy doob shoots over the bridal turban at wedding is considered auspicious and honoring the incumbent. At engagement ceremonies, the riches have however replaced doob by golden filling called the Darubh . In the yajnas and hawans or daily worship, one could not accomplish without this grass leaves. This is infact a legitimate token to indirectly emphasize on coming generation, the need to preserve environmental “Sangeevini”
In good times the several students, while returning from Schools to the hamlets used to chew few shoots of droob to provide mild sweetness and reduce thirst besides re-energizing themselves. Many still believe that cow that graze on the pasture with predominant Doob mixture passed dung of germicidal and best quality field manuring capabilities and the cow urine with cures of ailments in human beings. Morning walkers on the grassy covered dewy pathways enjoy soothing effect to psyche and body, more so to sight when bare foot.
The ailing stray dogs after remaining off feed for days or harbouring acidity are seen to bite at the Droob vegetation and then enforce vomiting, thereby allaying the problem of indigestion or illness. A natural recovery witnessed quite often. These benefits though are being propounded by many naturopaths and Ayurveda experts, but their extent of usefulness in context to the natural Droob and other grasses vis-a vis other feeding invites further investigation and authentication. Droob must get its due place in the ecosystem restoration, the status that it enjoys in Indian society from times immemorial.
(The writer is former Director Sheep Husbandry Department)