The King Of Herbs (药王)

Before a herbalist starts giving herbal prescription, he must first think of a main herb to be used as so-called the 'king of herbs' (药王). After that this herbalist must perform a ritual and then 'invites' (collects) this herb back home.

Specifically speaking, the herbalist must first choose a herb and then he must prepare some sacrificial offerings such as: betel nuts and leaves as well as tobaccos. Generally speaking types of offerings varies from places to places. There is no hard and fast rules.

Say that it is decided to use ginger and pepper as the kings. I as a herbalist must bring along a plate with those offering substances to where the two herbs are. Then, before collecting the herbs, below 'khata' is first recited before the herbs are collected:


After reciting the above mantra, the herbs are dug out one after another.

Upon returning home, the herbs are cleaned and dried under the sun. Then these dried herbs are kept in the herbalist's medicine pouch permanently as his 'king of herbs'. 

It is believed that with these king of herbs by the herbalist's side, he will be able to prescribe whatever types of super effective medicines.

One important point to remember is that whatever tools to be used to dig out the herbs, be it hoe, shovel or machete. These tools should be picked up without meeting the eye sights. That is to say that the herbalist must take the tools in his back.

While on the road, the handle of the tool must face front and the tool body faces back. It is forbidden to carry the tools on the shoulders.

The herbalist must also be careful during herbs collection and that he should dig at the point where the herb is located. If he makes the mess out of the place, then the 'spirit' of the herb shall be scared away and the healing effect of the herbs will be lesser.

On second thought, the above ritual sounds pretty similiar to the Vietnamese 'ngai' plant. Maybe there are interconnections?