Unseen Passage: Tree Worshiping

The tree is worshipped as earth’s mother in tribal India. It provides food, air, occupation, materials for housing, fodder for animals and fuel. Without the trees there is neither soil nor water. There is nothing to prevent the soil from being washed away; there is nothing to prevent the water from evaporating. In the great tribal regions of India, which are home to the Bhils, the Santhals, the Nagas, the Bishnois, whenever a child is born, a tree is planted in the child’s name. It forges a relationship between the child and the tree which is closer than the one between child and family. Naturally so, because that tree is specially the child’s own. The trees are all slow growing. By the time the child reaches adolescence, his tree has just come to fruit. It starts its life as a provider to the tribal child and the tribal is the guardian of the tree for life.

Nearly three hundred years ago in 1730, men and women of the Bishnoi tribe died in an attempt to stop the felling of trees.

In September 1730, a royal party led by Giridhar Bhandari, a minister of the Maharaja of Marwar, arrived at the village with an intention of felling some Khejri trees, that were sacred to the villagers. The trees were to be burnt to produce lime for the construction of a new palace. A local woman, Amrita Devi protested against the tree felling because such acts were prohibited by the Bishnoi religion. She and her three daughters sacrificed their lives in an attempt to save the trees. Following the example, many other villagers hugged the trees that were to be cut and got killed. This event became to be the forebearer of the ‘Chipko Movement’ initiated in the 20th century.

Bishnoi faith prohibits the cutting of green trees. It demands absolute protection of the Khejri, the shade and fodder tree of the area. As a result, their lands are fertile, while all around them the fields have been claimed by the Thar Desert of Rajasthan.

Answer the following questions:

  1. Name any two things provided by trees?
  2. Without the trees there is neither __________ nor __________ .
  3. In 1730, men and women of the __________ tribe died in an attempt to stop the felling of trees.
  4. Name two tribes of India.
  5. Bhils, Nagas and Santhals are which regions of India?
    1. Civilized
    2. Urban
    3. Tribal
    4. Rural
  6. When was ‘Chipko Movement’ initiated in?
    1. 18th Century
    2. 20th Century
    3. 21st Century
    4. 19th Century
  7. Girdhar Bhandari was a minister of the Maharaja of:
    1. Marwar
    2. Jaipur
    3. Jodhpur
    4. Udaipur
  8. A local woman _________ protested against the tree felling:
    1. Anita Devi
    2. Anjali Devi
    3. Amrita Devi
    4. Anjana Devi

Answers

  1. Food, air, fuel, fodder for animals. (Any two)
  2. Soil, water
  3. Bishnoi
  4. Bhils, Nagas, Bishnois, Santhas. (Any two)
  5. Tribal
  6. 20th Century
  7. Marwar
  8. Amrita Devi

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