23 September 2011

Sacred Groves (Devrai)

My first visit to a Devrai (as sacredgroves are called in Maharashtra) was both scary and exhilarating. Scary because I was walking over a thick carpet of dead leaves not knowing what lay or lived underneath with the sunlight barely filtering to the ground throughthe dense tree canopy. Exhilarating because I had the opportunity to see decades old trees that had survived Man’s relentless tree cutting due to unshaken faith in the residing deity in that forest. Some trees looked so huge that the cement statue was possibly installed later... So what came first, the idol or the trees?? 

The sequence is immaterial, the preservation of species is what matters.This has happened because according to folklore one is not supposed to take away anything from a devrai, no flowers, leaves, twigs, seeds.. nothing. That may have helped protect these trees from being destroyed in the insidiously growing cement jungle and kept it out of the clutches of the money-minded "land lobby".

Loth, a tree seen in a devrai near Pune


The only sounds to be heard were our feet crunching on the leaves, birds chirping as they possibly discussed our presence in the devrai with their brethren(friend or foe?) and insects that set up the ocassional crescendo ending in an abrupt silence. The silence compelled us to stop meaningless discussions and focus on the beauty that lay before us.
Next time you are driving on a high way, do take time to walk through one and let the pervading peace seep into your very soul.
Visit these links to learn more about sacred groves in India and their locations:


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