Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Trees and Religion

The concept of planting and preserving trees as a form of worship is a very noble and effective way of conserving the environment. This form of preserving forests is followed since time immemorial.
Coorg district boasts of the largest number of "Devara Kadu" or sacred groves. A small section of a forest is marked as "Devara kadu" and usually each one of these has a place of worship inside it too. Research has shown that some of these sacred groves feature better biodiversity in terms of plant and animal species than most evergreen forests, the reason being commitment from the people due to religious beliefs. According to research by world agroforestry center, the average willingness to pay for the preservation of these sacred groves is Rs.702 for groves in their own village. A well planned approach to establish such sacred groves should be seen as a sustainable way of afforestation.
This custom of planting trees for religious reasons is fast diminishing. The reasons may be many but I would not like to discuss them here. A better discussion would be on how to bring this custom back to life. I am currently involved in starting a company with plans to implement the "vriksha
archane" method suggested by GVK. According to this plan, we would make it easy for the devotees to plant a tree as a form of worship.
  • We would provide the saplings at the temple and the devotees could get a "vriksha archane" receipt at the counter.
  • The devotee could then get the pooja done.
  • After this, the devotee would have two options. He can either carry the sapling with him if he knows of a place where he can plant it. Otherwise, he can leave it there so that we will collect it back and plant it at a pre-designated place.
  • Once we have planted, we will give the temple a list of the places where it was planted.
  • The devotee on his next visit can refer to the list and visit the tree if he wants.
The maintenance of the plant will be taken care by us. These are just draft plans and suggestions are welcome. We have many more plans for sustainable afforestation. You can get a brief idea of these plans from the following brochure we have prepared. (Right click and save link as..)
We are still in planning phase and are yet to start operations. Suggestions will be most welcome. Also, if you know of any temple authority who would be open to this idea, please let us know.

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