Raipur: The word ‘Tribal’ conjures up images of a backward and ignorant people, living in deep forests, light years away from knowledge and civilisation. They don’t know about ozone layer and about carbon footprint, so also about biodegradability and CFCs. However, as far as conservation of environment is concerned, they are far ahead of the city-bred people, who talk a lot but do little.
The tribals have developed a lifestyle which allows them to live off the nature, but without hurting her.
This World Environment Day, we bring to you some instances of tribal traditions from the tribal-dominated state of Chhattisgarh that have helped preserve and protect environment over the centuries.
Ban on felling of trees
The Tribals have a tradition called ‘Raud’. An area in the forest around the villages is declared ‘Raud’. Images of deities are installed there. And this means a complete ban on felling of trees and setting grass or trees on fire. Anyone is expected to enter the zone only when he wants to communicate with the gods.
No to mangoes
A festival called Chaitrai is celebrated in March-end. For a month around the festival, eating mangoes is a taboo. Kanhaiya Usendi, a local, says that raw mangoes do not have seeds and hence if they are consumed, new trees won’t grow. Hence, they start eating mangoes only after the Chairai festival so that the leftovers they throw away can grow into trees.
Baigas building their own seed bank
At Kandavani Panchayat, about 50 km from Pandaria block headquarters of the district, the tribals here are building their own seed bank. Presently, it has seeds of more than 200 medicinal plants, many of which are rare or are nearing extinction. The tribals fear that these plants, which are unique gifts of nature, may be lost to their coming generations. Hence they are preserving the seeds.
No idols, they worship trees
In north Chhattisgarh, the tribal communities do not worship idols or pictures of their deities. They have a tradition of sacred groves, whereby a grove of trees near the village is declared sacred and the people worship it. These trees are, of course, not to be touched. The sacred groves are called Sarnas and at time of festivals, the locals gather there to worship and celebrate.