Whats is a “देवराई”?
Its the flora and fauna preserved by the people of the land for centuries in the name of god. We have almost 6 such groves in the perimeter of 10 kms of our camping sites. Many campers ask me what is this “देवराई” . Here is some light on what it really is and how such practices make us unique globally. When the world realized, the threat of global warming, deforestation, our ancestors already have been learning and teaching generations to preserve,protect the ecosystem for thousands of years. Lets understand what’s this..
To make the environment sustainable, a number of measures are necessary to be taken up by the people and government across the globe. Some of these measures are- use of efficient and eco-friendly technologies, sustainable use of resources and adoption of indigenous practices like keeping of sacred groves. Here in the current article we are going to discuss about sacred groves, their meaning, importance and practices.
The word sacred means: considered to be holy or ‘connected with a god’ and the word ‘Grove’ means: a small area of land with trees of particular types grown on it. Thus by combining these two words the final dictionary meaning of the couple of words Sacred Groves is: “A small area of land with particular types of trees grown on it and that are considered to be holy by the local human community.
In other words Sacred Groves can be defined as below-
An area with particular types of trees dedicated to local deities or ancestral spirits that are protected by local communities through social traditions and taboos incorporating spiritual and ecological values are called as sacred groves.
Indian Practice of keeping Sacred Groves
The presence of sacred groves of India has been documented since the early 1800s. Sacred Groves of India comprise trees like Deodara (Cedrus deodara), considered to be the “abode of Gods” Sal (Shorea robusta), Rudraksha (Elacocarpus species), Bael (Aegle marmelos), and Ashok (Saraca asoca), and kadam (Anthocephalus kadamba), Pipal (Ficus religiosa), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis): native to India, Mango tree (Mangifera indica) and bushes like, Basil (Ocimum basilicum & Ocimum minimum) (native to India and Iran) and grass like Doob or Durva (cynodon dactylon) etc.