Holy forest || Sacred Grove

by - December 10, 2020

                Deforestation is going on all over the world. However, mankind knew the ancient knowledge of protecting the environment. Like 'Biosphere Reserves, Sanctuaries, or National Parks', the term ‘sacred grove’ is not yet as well-known in our society. However, the most ancient method of conserving biodiversity is the idea of ​​the Sacred Grove.

                In order to keep oneself alive, one has to save the environment as well. This idea was thought of by the people of ancient times when science did not become so helpful in daily life. At first, they thought that only by protecting the environment from human interference could plant be protected. Ordinary people or villagers wanted to preserve the environment by combining folklore, myths, etc. with a number of places with different types of vegetation, forests to show the exact way to protect the place, today's ecology has given the term 'Sacred Groves'. ‘Sacred’ means sacred or pure, ‘Grove’ means a small garden or small forest with trees.

First Detection of Sacred Groves

       The first general director of the Forest Department in subjugated India was the German Botanist Dietrich Brandis, who noticed in the case of India's forest resources some of these places, which have been naturally preserved by the villagers, relying on folklore, myths, various beliefs for centuries. Brandis's efforts led to the enactment of the Indian Forest Act. Brandis' famous book "Indian Trees" published in 1906, is still popular today. He identified such Groves located in Kerala, Karnataka, Khasi Hills, and Rajasthan. Later such forested places were identified in different villages of India. Sacred Grove is a small piece of land with trees preserved from ancient times, sometimes there may be a temple, sometimes there is a pond, or the place is also identified as the property of the Gods. The main purpose was to prevent people from destroying the place by cutting down trees for their own needs.

             There is no difference of religion in coming and going in the groves. Large Sacred Grooves usually have an entry-restricted section, and a section is open to human use, where there is a temple for worship, local fairs, or village meetings. Socially Grooves play a huge role. In Bengal, India in this sacred forest, mainly herbaceous shrubs like Bot, Ashwattha, Mango, Blackberry, Bamboo, etc.

            Sacred Groves is not just an idea of ​​Bengal or India. There are countless places in the world that are now scientifically recognized. In all these places, tearing off leaves and cutting of wood is strictly prohibited. Environmentalists have noticed that these places are one of the lungs to protect the environment.

Benefits of Sacred Groves

         In addition to providing adequate oxygen, Sacred Groves prevents soil erosion, regulates the water cycle regionally, acts as a safe haven for various animals, and protects biodiversity. According to researchers, these fields are also a rare source of medicinal plants. Currently, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Organization, states that the role of Sacred Groves is crucial in absorbing carbon from the air. This sacred forest regulates the local temperature as it absorbs greenhouse gases.

        Attempts are now being made to preserve and document traditional knowledge around the world in a scientific way. Sacred Groves is one such pillar of traditional knowledge. In the context of traditional knowledge of Gods and Goddesses understood the benefits of Tulsi, Bot, Ashwattha, Arjuna, Dhutra, Neem, Bell, etc., and their cutting was stopped indiscriminately. Another aspect of traditional knowledge is the abolition of the killing of those animals and the conservation of biodiversity by building relationships between God and the various animals & birds.

Sacred Groves and The World

            According to the Forest Department, about 22% of India is forested. Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have the highest amount of forests. According to the data, about one thousand square kilometers of land in India is occupied by Sacred Groves as a whole. Kavu in Kerala, Zahera in Orissa, Kaikadu in Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand are all forested areas. Himachal Pradesh has the highest number of registered Groves in India.

              The most significant international conference on biodiversity in 1992 was known as the CBD or Convention on Biological Diversity. From there, the idea of ​​Sacred Groves became important all over the world. In 2002, the concept of Sacred Groves in India was incorporated into the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 so that they would not become extinct.

            The Dodona region of Greece is one of the most notable Groves in the world. It is basically an oak forest. Here are the legends of Greece across the groves to save the green. Italy also has multiple Sacred Groves. The Shinto community of Japan has faithfully defended the forested lands, and today's generation, with due devotion, considers them natural resources.

            Two years ago, the popular Nature Magazine published an important article on the scientific basis and necessity of Scientific American Sacred Groves. After this, the modern western science community noticed this ancient method of forest protection. One by one the Sacred Grove is the lungs there, the supplier of oxygen. Therefore, efforts are needed to bring Sacred Groves under proper legal protection and appropriate scientific research.

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