Monday, October 5, 2015

Special Cover on Mission Devrai (Sacred Groves) – 3rd October 2015

Sacred Groves (Devrai in Marathi) are virgin forests near the village, maintained and taken care of by locals of that village, dedicated to a local deity. There is no human intervention making these perfect ecological hotspots. No one is permitted to cut any tree or plant, kill animals or birds or harm any form of life in this area. It is well known that villagers around forest depend on the forest for their livelihood. When a certain area is identified as scared grove by villagers, they ensure that the area is not disturbed by them. Sacred Groves turns the area into a dense forest with rich bio-diversity, which remains untouched. Sacred groves are not only an Indian phenomenon.
Nature worship is an integral part of human society and the Sacred Groves, one form of nature worship, are considered as “Sacred Natural Sites” and have been preserved over generations in India. The concept of sacred groves in India has its roots in antiquity, even before the Vedic age. Historical references to sacred groves can be obtained from ancient classics as far back as Kalidasa's Vikramuurvashiiya. One can find them in Africa, or even native Indian communities in North American countries. Sacred groves did not enjoy protection by Government in India but the introduction of the protected area category community reserves under the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2002 has introduced legislation for providing government protection to community held lands, which could include sacred groves. In the state of Maharashtra more than 3,500 Devrais, or the Sacred Groves are known. There are around 230 such sacred groves noted in Pune district. As faith and beliefs change these protected groves have started showing signs of deteriorations. The rapid urbanization is posing great threats to these community reserves.
To protect these sacred groves in Maharashtra, Maharashtra Vruksha Samvardhini has started a project called ‘Mission Devrai’ for documentation and conservation of these Devrais which are an important part of our heritage, cultural as well as ecological. To spread awareness about sacred groves a unique festival called ‘Devrai Jagruti Festival’ was organized by Maharashtra Vruksha Samvardhini and Nature Walk Charitable Trust from 1st to 4th October 2015 and as a part of festival an exhibition of Sacred Groves was organized at Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune and an awareness program at S. M. Joshi Auditorium, Navi Peth, Pune on 3rd and 4th October 2015.
On the occasion a Special Cover was released on ‘Mission Devrai’ by Shri Ganesh Sawaleshwarkar, Postmaster General, Pune Region (Special Cover approval no. MH/28/2015) at the function held at S. M. Joshi Auditorium, Navi Peth, Pune on 3rd October 2015.
Special Cover on Mission Devrai (Sacred Groves)
Special Cover on Mission Devrai (Sacred Groves)

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