Chennai: Sathishkumar Pichandi, a software professional at Ambattur here, works for the cause of saving palm trees. Now famously known as ‘Panai’ Sathish, he went on a 550-odd km cycle trip recently for the sake of palm, which is the State tree of Tamilnadu.
Speaking to News Today, he said, “I wanted to head to Vanagam, the place where Iyarkai Thaatha G Nammalvar carried out his ecological agriculture in Karur. However, I wanted it to be for a cause, for Nammalvar is known for organic farming. So, I wanted the journey to be about palm trees.”
But, rather than just head straight to the place, Sathish gathered a small group of friends and they decided that the journey will be done on bicycles. “We also decided not to take the direct route and instead head out to villages at every possible occassion. We covered nearly 40 villages on our journey,” said the youngster.
The motive was simple for the team: create awareness about palm trees and bring people back to our traditional ways. But the four-member team did not expect the kind of things the journey had in store for them.
“We had in our mind to tell people about palm trees and about grama sabha. We met school and college students on our way and told them about the importance of saving palm trees. But when we went to Narasinganur village near Villupuram, we realised that it was we who needed to learn,” he said.
With more than 300 families depending on palmyra trees for their livelihood, the villagers seemed to know things that even an avid activist couldn’t comprehend to think, we were told.
“The information they gave is much more valuable and the perspective that they gave was completely different to what we knew including medicinal properties of palmyra. There are about 10,000 palm trees in that village alone. We had every thing recorded on video so that we can show it to others and help people understand the importance of having palm trees in our surroundings,” said Sathish.
With new experience greeting them at every village, the brigade had gotten bigger and bigger as the miles piled on. “We met a lot of activists who were fighting for various rights in their locality. One special individual has been struggling to make the government understand that Tamilnadu has stone trees which are more than two lakh years old and that they must be preserved. It was amazing to see people taking up issues in their own hands,” said Sathish.
His team had also given out pamphlets to people along the way stressing the importance of palm trees, he said.
With over 550 km under his belt in under 10 days, Sathish was asked if his journey gave him what he had wanted and he replied, “We are doing something for the society, for our motherland. This journey is a start. I congregated a lot of contacts on the way and we will be in touch and we will do our bit for the society.”