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Updated: January 4, 2010 18:50 IST

Let's hug a tree for life

ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN
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Don't you enjoy being under tree or just looking at trees? There is something beautiful, in the graceful swaying, the gentle rusting of the leaves and the blissful shade that trees give isn't it?

Here is a beautiful story that shows the bond between trees and a little girl. In a tiny village called Uliana, nestled in the shadow of the Himalayas, lived Meera. She didnt go to school but learnt all her lessons from nature. And her best friends were, the trees. She saw each one of them as a different being. "There was Naani tree who was the old gnarled one with the giant curved lap into which meera fitted perfectly. There was Bhaloo tree who was big and black and who, if you rounded a corner without concentrating, could be mistaken for being a grizzly bear. There was chottu tree.."

Life was perfect, till one day she heard her parents speaking of a group of men who were coming from the city to cut down her beloved trees. The situation seemed hopeless as her father said "We little people have no powers to stop them."

But when the dreaded day arrived, this little girl dared to take action that lead the whole village to save their trees. This story of courage was in fact inspired by the chipko movement.

Have you heard of it?

The 'Chipko movement' or 'Chipko Andolan' is a socio-ecological movement that practised the Gandhian methods of satyagraha and non-violent resistance, through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled. The modern Chipko movement started in the early 1970s in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand with growing awareness towards rapid deforestation. The landmark event in this struggle took place on March 26, 1974, when a group of female peasants in Reni village, Hemwalghati, in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, India, acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights

The first recorded event of Chipko took place in village Khejarli, Jodhpur district, in 1730 AD, when 363 Bishnois, led by Amrita Devi sacrificed their lives while protecting green Khejri trees, considered sacred by the community, by hugging them, and braved the axes of loggers sent by the local ruler.

A must mention are the beautiful illustrations done by R.K. Raji, which heightens a story that is simply and sensitively told. "Meera's friend's, The Trees' is a book that has to be read and looked upon as an inspiration as trees even today are in the danger of being cut indiscriminately.

"Meera's Friends, The Trees," Geethika Jain and Jaishree Misra, DC Books

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