Sunday, July 14, 2019

Green news: Indic women reforesters

Swarajya Magazine reports.

In Uttarakhand:

The Mahila Mangal Dal groups consisting of women volunteers also take up reforestation drives and do the valuable work towards linking trees and the planting of trees with the region's intangible heritage, festivals, rituals, weddings, and cultural events in the region.

A global movement today, Maiti - was born in Gwaldaham village in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district.
Started by Kalyan Singh Rawat, who currently lives in Dehradun, the Maiti movement links the "pranay bandhan" of village daughters with tree plantation. The emotional gesture of making a newly-wed daughter and her husband plant a sapling is the soul of this movement.

The Maiti Andolan is an environment revolution pitched on emotion for the "beti" - her prosperity, her paternal village's well being, and her constant connect with her parental village.

Rawat did something simple to implement it well. He planted an emotion - that of the 'beti' - into reforestation, just to ensure that people turn up to see and nurture the sapling, return to it, regularly, and protect it. He wanted to ensure that family members, especially mothers of women who plant these saplings, make sure that it remains and grows into a tree.
The mother-daughter bond takes the Maiti Andolan from soul to soil. Rawat explains why and how it worked particularly in Uttarakhand. He says, "The mother - daughter bond is special in every culture, even more, in Uttarakhand, where the two move together, uphill and downhill, in forests, to run the kitchen, home and cattle. When the daughter is leaving home, the mother cries the most. When such a strong bond is celebrated by planting a tree, it is a given that the mother will do everything to nurture it."
According to him, five lakh weddings have been marked by Maiti Andolan so far. He adds, "The success rate of saplings has been hundred per cent."
At the plantation ceremony, two souls meet as they pat the soil around the sapling. Then, the unmarried women, and girls from the village surround the new couple in the related festivities. The groom has to loosen his purse at the end, extending token amount to the village girls. According to Rawat, this money goes for their welfare.

Women in Bishnoi community uphold the unfaltering ecological movement which was started by Amrita Devi Bishnoi. She laid down her life for protecting Khejri trees in Khejarli village in the region. The Bishnoi resistance in 1730 gave India and the world an environmental movement. Rajasthan meets Uttarakhand in the Chipko Andolan, which is said to be inspired by the Bishnoi resistance to save trees. Women are the core of these two movements.

The story of Saalumarada Thimmakka - popularly known as 'Vrisha Mata' tells us that it is all about the mothering instincts. Instinct so grand - that Thimmakka, who turned to planting Banyan saplings in an expression of motherhood, contributed around 380 (on the stretch between Hulikal and Kudur in Karnataka) of them. She had started planting these saplings with her husband (who was a herder when they got married).

Thimmakka continued to plant the trees even after his death in 1991. It is common knowledge that the couple turned to tree plantation after learning that they could not conceive. In the process they shunned the taunts they would receive. Does Thimakka's love for planting trees not stem from the viewing of dharti as garbh, and beyond?