Sacred Groves in India

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cred A traditional means of biodiversity conservation, these groves can be considered the ancient equivalent of natural sanctuaries where No one is permitted to cut any tree or plant, or harm any form of life in this area. Ancient Indian texts have many references to sacred groves, for example, Kalidaasa’s Vikramorvawsiyam. Today, there are only about 1000 square kilometres of undisturbed sacred groves, scattered in patches all over the country.. These groves are important today as they are banks of genetic and plant diversity that have to be preserved and sustained. These areas often contain species that have disappeared from the regions outside the grove. The extant groves are proof that the forests exist not only because there are regulations but also because there are traditions. * Shipin, about 12 km from Shimla, is believed to be the biggest deodar grove in this district and is home to trees that are hundreds of years old. Villagers who pass through the grove dust their clothes to make sure they do not carry anything belonging to the grove. Trees in the area cannot be cut or felled, and all deadwood found in the forest is used in the temple located in the grove. There are hundreds of such groves in Himachal Pradesh. * Sacred groves in the hills of Garhwal and Kumaon are mentioned in old Hindu scriptures like the Puranas. The largest known sacred grove is in Hariyali, near Ganchar in Chamoli District. Others include Askot, Binsar, and Gananath. In all these areas, fairs are held regularly and rituals performed. But the trees seem to have lost their religious importance in the minds of the people. * Some of the richest groves are found in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, where almost every village is said to have had a grove, known locally as the lawkyntangs. The largest of them are in Mawphlang and Mausmai. These groves are a storehouse of a large number of rare plant species. The local people believe that the forest spirit will kill anyone who

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