Champaran flower drive to honour Bapu

A posse of social workers and nature lovers have taken up the responsibility to restore the glory of champa flowers as part of the ongoing centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi's visit to Champaran.

By Sandeep Bhaskar in Bettiah
  • Published 6.03.18
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Mahatma Gandhi

Bettiah: A posse of social workers and nature lovers have taken up the responsibility to restore the glory of champa flowers as part of the ongoing centenary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi's visit to Champaran.

The flower owes its name to Champaran (forest of champa) and its trees have dwindled in Champaran over the years.

In their first bid to do so, nature lovers Manoj Kumar (48), Abhijeet Pandey (32) and Mohan Shrivastava (in his 60s) have already planted about 200 saplings of champa recently, while more social workers have joined the trio to renovate the Freedom Fighter Armed Forces Memorial Park near Kalighat on the banks of the Gandak at Valmikinagar into Champa Van (forest).

"The centenary celebration of Gandhi's visit to Champaran is certainly a glory for us. But what can be more ironical than the fact that majority of us haven't seen champa flowers," said social worker Afaque Haider, who is also the director of National Public High School, Bettiah. "I, therefore, call upon everyone to plant champa tree saplings," he added.

Another social worker, Dindayal Yadav, echoed Afaque. "Efforts are afoot to convert Freedom Fighter Armed Forces Memorial Park into Champa Van," said Manoj, who is credited to have planted thousands of saplings in his life.

He added: "Some of the champa trees planted in the past have begun flowering as well."

According to a legend, the name Champaran derives from Champa-aranya, which means forest of champa (magnolia forest), which were once found. It is believed that the forest was named while solitary ascetics stayed in its western portion. Thus, the district came to be known as Champaran. However, old-timers failed to recall if they had ever seen champa flowers.

A botany professor attached with MJK College, Bettiah, said champa had both medical and aromatic values. "Their variants are swarn champa, swet champa and maheshwari champa which attain maturity in five years," he said.