Profile: Fifty-nine-year-old Partiman Aley of Tsirang has kept his ancestral herbal medicinal practice alive.

He clearly remembers the day he began learning the secrets of herbal medicine in 1967 from his grandfather. He was 10 years old.

He accompanied his grandfather into the high Himalayas in search of herbal plants. They had to spend many nights in the forests and mountains.

In Tsirang, Partiman is the famous medicine man who treats insect bites, snakebites, fractures, broken bones, gout, ulcer, tonsillitis, gastritis and diabetics, among others. His treatment doesn’t involve therapy. He has only medicines and advice to give.

Partiman gets patients from all over the country. “I make only two liquefied medicines and they can cure most of the illnesses, pretty much,” said Partiman.  The two medicines can be oral or ointment.

Stored in pet bottles, one is whitish and the other is dark green. Partiman’s medicine shelf in his living room is empty right now. It’s been months since he last went to collect herbal plants in the highlands.

He said that nowadays it is difficult to find medicinal plants even in the highlands. Because he does not prepare medicine for commercial purposes, he does not collect plants in huge quantity. “I don’t want to waste the precious plants. I get just about enough for specific purpose. I do that about five times a year.”

In 1992 a Royal Kasho allowed Bhim Bdr Aley, Partiman’s father to collect at least five tonnes of medicinal plants a year.

“I’ve not heard of or noticed any side effects or complaints from people so far,” said Partiman.

As a young boy, Partiman continued to learn from his father after his grandfather passed away. Later, he left his home to study telecommunications in Kolkata. In his 22 years of service, he did not stop practicing herbal medicine.

Partiman’s father died in 2009. But Partiman has been keeping the family tradition alive.

“I’m a farmer,” Partiman said. “But I want to continue helping people who are in need of traditional medicines.” He gets about 300 patients a year.

To make sure that the tradition doesn’t die with him, Partiman teaches his eldest daughter how to prepare medicines from herbal plants.

Partiman also shared his experience at the 14th International Congress for Ethno-Biology at Ugyen Wangchuck Stadium in Bumthang in 2014.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang