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Sunday, February 7, 2010

How do Indian Traditions and Culture protect our environment?

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Indian traditions and cultures have been protecting our trees, ponds and other water bodies, wild animals etc. In modern times some of these cultures have been encroached by the greed of development while others are doing farely well in conserving resources. The need of the time is to protect all of our traditions and culture that in any way protect our environment.Here are examples of some important Indian traditions, customs and cultures that were and still are in practice in different parts in India.

The concept of keeping forest reserves was first developed by Kautilya, an Indian scholar in the past.
Trees of different species are protected and preserved as sacred groves in most parts of the country. 

Sacred Groves are small patches of native vegetation, traditionally protected by local communities. The local communities in different Indian states are protecting and worshipping sacred groves since the emergence of civilization. Many sacred grove- areas are designated as sacred places of Gods and goddesses where people go for worship. The concept of Panchvati (a group of five Banyan trees; vati is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘vat’ meaning vat-vriksha or banyan tree) has been elaborated in many of Indian Epics. A state wise list of Indian sacred groves protected and worshiped by local communities is being given below.

Bisnois of Rajasthan have a tradition of protecting wildlife including Black Buck and Khejri trees since 1451 or so.

Van –Panchayats have been organised in Uttar Pradesh for the management and conservation of forests. These are village level institutions members of which are elected at local level. These Van Panchayats are linked to the forest department for technical know-how and for planning strategies. 

The Nature Worship is the age- long tradition in many religions in India.
Different water conservation strategies and traditions have been in practice in many parts of India. Some of those indigenous strategies are- Tanka and Kund  in Rajasthan and Mizoram ; Bamboo drip system in Cherapunji,, Eris in Tamil Nadu; Haveli in Madhya Pradesh; Apatani in Arunachal Pradesh; Ahar Pyne system of water conservation in Bihar and adjacent West Bengal; Zabo system in Nagaland etc.The kund at Trayambkeshwar is considered to be the origin of the sacred Godawari river.

The Kund at Trayambkeshwar(source: Wikipedia)

Protection of wildlife and natural resources has been enshrined in Hindu religion and culture and it has also been stressed in the Constitution of India. Governments of different Indian states are promoting regeneration of forests and their protection with the help of action and rational participation of the local people.

Key Words : tradition and culture, nature worship, sacred grove, kund, tanka, zabo, ahar pyne

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