The Baigas and the sacred trees

Bamboo Forest, Arunachal

An April 12, 2012 Times of India article by Lemuel Lall, TNN, describes how the Baigas are protecting their forests.  The tribal people stand with their bows drawn and arrows ready to fly, confronting Forest Department workers who are intent on cutting the trees.


The Baigas are a people in the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh, living in the Ranjara jungles, where they have lived for countless generations, worshipping the trees as gods.


The village panchayat (leader) had been holding frequent meetings and lodging protests with the Forest Department against the felling of the trees. Finally, he had had enough, and he asked every man, woman, and child to stand armed with bow and arrow to defend the trees, not allowing a single one to be cut.


The Dindori Conservator of Forest, L.P. Tiwari explained that they were only cutting dead wood, and that it was necessary to do this to follow a government arrangement to provide some wood to other local people to be used as firewood.  He said that not allowing any wood to be cut could lead to massive resistance and the start of illegal logging, as has happened in Uttarakhand, so they must stick to the agreement. He hopes an understanding can be reached with the Baigas.


The Baigas maintain that the trees are their gods and that cutting any of them is entirely unacceptable.


Though it’s easy to appreciate the logic of the Forest Department, who are probably doing their best in a difficult situation to prevent further destruction of the forests.  Still one’s heart goes out to the Baigas.  After all, a tree is a god, isn’t it?  And if we all bravely defended the trees and never allowed a single one to be cut, wouldn’t the world be a different planet – where life and the sacred beings of nature are loved and respected — and where the animals’ homes are protected and preserved?


Photo: / / Source: National and state government agencies of India / Bamboo forest, Arunachal Pradesh


To view the original times of India article, click here.

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