The Practice of Sacred Groves in North East India

A paper by R. S Tripathi on the Sacred Groves of the North East states that declaring a patch of forest near the villages as sacred and protecting it on the grounds of religious and cultural beliefs is an age old practice with the tribal communities in the north-eastern hill region of India. There are a large number of sacred groves in the states of Meghalaya, Manipur and Karbi-Anglong area of Assam. These are among the few least disturbed forest patches in the region serving as the original treasure house of biodiversity. Over the past one decade or so, a considerable amount of interest has been generated in the studies of sacred groves among ecologists, taxonomists, foresters, environmentalists and anthropologists. The National Botanical Research Institute (Ecoeducation Division) in Lucknow and the North Eastern Hill University has documented as many as 79 sacred groves in Meghalaya alone. These sacred groves are owned by individuals, clans or communities, and are under direct control of the clan councils or local village Dorbars/Syiemships/Dolloiships/ Nokmaships. They show a wide variation in their size and forest canopy cover. The religious beliefs associated with the sacred groves, and traditional wisdom contributing to forest protection is a useful model for biodiversity conservation in the region. The religious beliefs and rituals central to the sacred grove preservation are being eroded fast, and therefore, these biodiversity-rich forests cannot be protected only through religious beliefs. External intervention has become essential for their protection. Suitable packages of conservational and eco-restoration strategies need to be evolved for the protection of sacred groves with the full involvement and participation of the local communities. It may be mentioned that the protection of the sacred groves in Meghalaya could be attributed not only to the religious beliefs and taboos, but also to the wisdom of the people residing in the adjoining areas. For instance, the villagers are fully aware of the importance of sacred groves as a perennial source of clean water to them. They also know that sacred groves help in reducing loss of fertile top soil due to erosion caused by heavy rain, and that they can gate some of the medicinal plants only from the sacred groves.

Source: Paper by R.S Tripathi, Formerly, Professor of Botany, North-Eastern Hill University; INSA Senior Scientist, National Botanical Research Institute (Eco-education Division); Rana Pratap Marg, Lucknow-226001

Contributed by: Pradeep Boro, CEE North East

blog comments powered by Disqus
Muslin Fabric

This gossamer light muslin fabric has found mention in the writings of many visitors to India, even as far back as the 3rd century B.C. A great deal of muslin was produced in and exported from Bengal. Dacca was the main region where cotton was cultivated due to the high humidity of the region, which prevented the delicate thread from breaking on contact with the air. The cotton spun was very white since the Brahmaputra and the Ganges Rivers have bleaching properties. The chikan workers in Bengal used this fine muslin for embroidery.

Stitches in Chikankari

Double-Star Earring, Peacock Feather's Eye, Sidhual, Makra, Mandarzi, Bulbulchashm, Tajmahal, Phooljali, Phanda, Dhoom, Gol, murri, Janjeera, Keel, Kangan, Bakhia, Dhania Patti, lambi Murri, Kapkapi, Karan Phool, Bijli, Ghaspatti, Rozan, Meharki, Kaj, Chameli, Chane ki Patti, Balda, Jora, Pachni, Tapchim Kauri, Hathkati and Daraj of various types.